Friday, December 31, 2010

What If? #200

Review: This issue was jam-packed with What If? goodness, containing FIVE separate features. The first What If? story dealt with What If Norman Osborn had won the Siege of Asgard? Basically the point of divergence was the Sentry killing Ares before the Siege took place at the command of Osborn. With Sentry going into the Siege battle fresh, he managed to tear though the Asgardians and the Avengers. The Fantastic Four and some X-Men join the battle on the side of the Avengers, but Sentry and Osborn's forces are too much, and they also get murdered. Dr. Doom arrives on the scene and spirits Emma Frost away from the battle and with Namor and Loki, plot against Osborn. Doom puts his plan into motion by sneaking into Asgard with his allies and capturing Bullseye. Sentry comes to the rescue and Emma reveals that Bullseye had killed the Sentry's wife. Instead of killing Bullseye though, Sentry kills Emma. Bullseye gloats, and then gets killed as well. With that, the Sentry gives way to the Void, and the Void makes quick work of Loki, Namor and Doom. The Void then heads to Osborn and tells him that it was done teaming with him, killing Osborn too. From there, the Void runs roughshod over the Earth, killing everything and destroying the entire planet. Well that was cheerful, no? Our next story is What If the Watcher had killed Galactus, written by The Man himself, Stan Lee(!!!). The story takes place at the time of Galactus' first meeting with the Fantastic Four(the CLASSIC FF #48-50). Instead of Reed scaring off Galactus with the Ultimate Nullifier, the Watcher(Uatu)takes care of Galactus himself, much to the rage of the Silver Surfer. The council of Watchers show up on the scene and teleport Uatu, the Surfer and the FF to their domain. The Surfer basically serves as the prosecutor, telling the other Watchers of Uatu's crime, while Mr. Fantastic heads up the defense, telling the Watchers that had Uatu not acted, Galactus would have killed billions on Earth. The Watchers don't really want to hear it, and even Uatu himself seems resigned to his fate, as the head Watcher sentences Uatu to die the following day. The FF decide to free Uatu, but are halted by the Surfer, who was determined to see Uatu face justice. With the heroes all battling in front of his cell, Uatu tells them to cease battling, since he didn't want to be freed, and was ready to face his punishment. After watching that scene play out, the head Watcher changes his mind, and this issue ends with the Watchers tasking Uatu to take the place of Galactus as the new devourer of worlds. We also had an interview with Roy Thomas, who created the What If? idea all those years ago, a few pages of several Marvel creators listing their favorite What If? issue, and we end things with a reprint of What If? #35, What If Electra had Lived.

Thoughts: This was the BEST $5 comic I have EVER purchased! Hell, I'd have happily paid $3 just for the Stan Lee story(which was AWESOME!), which means all of the other stuff was only $2. A GREAT bargain! The first story(the Siege one)was written by Marc Guggenheim and was exceptional. I'd have easily given it a 9. The Stan Lee story was STUPENDOUS! Nobody can voice the Thing like The Man can, and besides Stan Lee's fantastic dialogue(as always)the story was WAAAAY better than I would have expected it to be. Score-wise, it definitely deserved a 10. Somebody get that Stan Lee guy a regular series! The interview with Roy Thomas was quite informative, and gave some insight into the early days of What If? as well as the differences between Marvel's What If's and DC's Elseworlds stories, which until Thomas pointed them out, I hadn't even realized. The reprinted comic was the favorite What If? comic of both Ed Brubaker and Brian Michael Bendis, and was written AND penciled by Frank Miller, who wrote the original death of Elektra story, making this What If? that much more intriguing. I never had the privilege of reading that comic, and if asked to give it a score, I'd easily give it a 9 1/2 or a 10. Yes, the cover price might scare some people away from this one, but trust me, it is WELL worth the price!

Score: 10 out of 10. What better way to end 2010 then with a perfect score?Stan Lee + Fantastic Four = Perfect. Nuff said.

Titans #30

Review: This issue kicks off in earnest with Deathstroke telling the girl he was tasked with rescuing from Arkham WHY he was rescuing her. Bottom line, her father was a c-list villain named Wavelength, had to give her up, and wants her back. While Deathstroke and the girl are running around the Asylum, Batman(in this instance, Dick Grayson)separates Killer Croc and Osiris, which leads to Osiris leaving the Asylum and apparently the Titans. The Atom talks to a few members of the JLA about the disappearance of Ryan Choi, but really, who cares? Certainly not anybody at DC... Meanwhile, the Titans and the inmates at the Asylum battle for a while, which gives an excuse for us to get Arsenal and Dick together. Dick still believes in Arsenal, but Arsenal is nothing but a worthless junkie(and this is coming from a HUGE fan of his), and basically tells Dick as much. By this point, the Arkham guards arrive on the scene, as does Deathstroke. Deathstroke tells the inmates that him and his team were leaving, and that the inmates could do whatever they wanted to Bats and the guards once he was gone. Dick makes one last attempt to appeal to Arsenal, but Arsenal leaves with Deathstroke and the Titans. From there, Deathstroke takes the girl to Wavelength, and the girl kills him. She then asks to be on the Titans, but Deathstroke slaps a power-dampening collar on her and tells her no. This issue ends with Deathstroke presenting Ink with the man who murdered his son, Slipknot.

Thoughts: Wow, this series is really bad... I mean just when I think it's hit rock bottom, it goes a step lower. Where do I start? The girl Deathstroke rescued was as annoying a character as I've read about all year, I'm SICK of Roy Harper: Useless Junkie, the Asylum story was simply abandoned midway through(first the Titans are fighting the inmates, then they aren't, and then the Titans leave and we never find out what happened...), and Congorilla made an appearance... Seriously, this series is bad... Really bad. I keep holding out hope that it's going to turn around(I mean it has Arsenal, Deathstroke AND Cheshire in it!!!), but with each passing issue, I doubt it more and more.

Score: 3 1/2 out of 10.My GOD is Congorilla ugly!

Birds of Prey #7

Review: This issue begins with Savant meeting with Calculator and informing him as to Oracle's exact location. From there, Oracle beats up some junkies outside her headquarters and is met by Batman(in this case, Bruce Wayne). Oracle takes Bats into her headquarters and shows him around. Upon arriving inside, Oracle meets up with Savant, who tells her their plan for Calculator went as expected. Savant then leaves and Bats tells Oracle that he needs her assistance with the whole Batman Incorporated thing. Oracle says she's willing to help, but that it would have to be as Barbara Gordon, because Oracle had lost the sanctuary of the shadows and as such had to die. Moving on, Black Canary, Huntress, Dove and Lady Blackhawk are hanging out at a strip club to celebrate Dove's birthday. This issue ends with Mammoth, Bolt, a few HIVE goons and some woman named Mortis attacking the Birds since they were under the impression(from Savant)that one of them was Oracle.

Thoughts: Ugh... This was probably the worst Birds of Prey comic I've read in... well, maybe ever. I usually love Gail Simone's work in this series, but yikes, this one was a mess. The story was blah, the dialogue was pretty bad, and overall the whole thing was pretty boring. I mean it felt like I was reading this comic for a few hours, not a few minutes. Oh well, even the best of writers doesn't hit it out of the park every time. Hopefully this series returns to its usual awesomeness next issue.

Score: 4 1/2 out of 10.It's going to take some time getting used to the new, touchy-feely Bruce Wayne...

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Review: We begin things here John Stewart and the two rookie Green Lanterns from the last few issues heading to Rann to meet with LEGION leader, Vril Dox. Dox has been bad mouthing the Green Lantern Corps, and has been gaining support for his LEGION peace-keeping forces, while the people of the Vega System have been unreceptive to having Green Lanterns patrolling their spaceways. After the obligatory photo op, Stewart and Dox head inside to have their meeting under the watchful eye of Adam Strange. The meeting produces nothing, as Dox refuses to change his tune, stating that the GL's bring nothing but trouble to the systems they “protect”, while Stewart threatens Dox telling him that if he kept standing in the way of the GLC, he'd find himself sitting in a jail cell on Oa. While bickering, they get word that a terrorist group was planning on destroying the main sun in the Vega System, which Dox insinuates that he knew about. Stewart sends the rookie Lanterns to deal with it, while Dox needles him, telling him that when the rookies fail, LEGION would swoop in and take care of the threat. After some thought, the rookies actually DO manage to halt the terrorist's weapon and save the sun, just as Stewart knew they could. Upon leaving the terrorist ship, the rookies are met by Kyle Rayner, Soranik Natu and Ganthet, who upgrades the rookies to full-fledged Lanterns. With the Green Lanterns saving the galaxy, Dox loses much of his leverage, and along with Stewart and Strange, he heads outside to put an end to his feud with the GLC. Later on, Dox meets up with his son, Lyrl, and complains about the fact that the Lanterns were able to halt the weapon that Lyrl had created(!). Lyrl explains that if he had made the weapon any more complex, Dox's LEGION forces wouldn't have been able to stop it, so although a bit disappointed, Dox knows that he'll have many more opportunities to discredit the GLC. Also during this issue, Starro the Conquerer and his two lieutenants head to the planet Psion, and force one of the scientists there to help Starro regain his former power so that he could take revenge against Dox.

Thoughts: As always, this was one of the highlights of my month. This was a very good comic, although Dox's plans not coming to fruition kept this a very good read, as opposed to a great read. I would have preferred it if Dox could have discredited the GLC some more, but I guess that wasn't a realistic wish. I loved the reveal that Dox had put his son up to creating the weapon, because that just hammers home the point that Dox doesn't play by the rules, and that he was willing to endanger an entire star system to see that the Lanterns get humbled. The ending, with the reemergence of Starro was great, and leaves me salivating for the next issue. By this point, I would EASILY call this the best title coming out of DC today.

Score: 8 1/2 out of 10.Vril + Lyrl = The Best Comic Coming Out Of DC Today!

Wolverine #4

Review: This is going to be an EASY review! Possessed Wolverine tears into the X-Men, as he continues his plan to destroy everything Wolverine cared about. Before he is able to kill anybody though, the Ghost Riders(and Mystique)drive over and snag Possessed Wolvie, taking him away from the battle. Down in Hell, Wolverine is still battling the Devil, who is trying to prove to all of the other demons that Wolvie can be broken. Unfortunately for the Devil, Wolvie continues to fight back, which ultimately leads to the lesser demons of Hell figuring they could challenge their master. While the Devil is fighting off his own demons, Wolvie manages to put his claws through the Devil's head, and with the help of the other demons, Wolvie stakes the Devil to a wall. With their master incapacitated(though still REALLY angry!), the lesser demons battle over the Devil's sword and try to proclaim themselves the new master. While that is going on, Puck and an army of damned souls, charge and attack the demons. Wolvie is about to join in to assist Puck, when he is called to by his father(!!), who wanted to have a talk with his son.

Thoughts: There was a lot of fighting going on here! Wolvie battling the Devil, and Possessed Wolvie battling against a few of the X-Men. There's really not all that much I can say here... I enjoyed reading this, the actions scenes were well put together, and the cliffhanger with Wolvie and his father makes the next issue a must read. What more could you ask for?

Score: 8 1/2 out of 10.Possessed Wolvie is STILL one of my favorite characters of 2010!

Red Robin #18

Review: This issue begins in Moscow as Red Robin meets with former Teen Titans teammate Red Star to alert him that he was going to be trying to learn more about the Unternet, which is basically the super-villain Internet. Tim has some suspicions that Russian billionaire Viktor Mikalek could possibly be involved with the proliferation of the Unternet, and as such has set up a meeting with the Russian(as Tim Drake)in order to plant a bug in his computer which would let him know if Mikalek had done anything illegal. Why alert Red Star to anything you ask? Because Tim didn't want to step on Red Star's toes since he was basically Russia's meta-human protector. Red Star seems intense, but fine with Tim's business in Russia. He does caution Tim to tread lightly when talking to Mikalek before leaving though. From there, Tim meets up with Mikalek and near the end of the meeting, the festivities are broken up by a gun-totting woman named Promise. The woman shoots several of Mikalek's men with rubber bullets, and before she can make a move towards Mikalek himself, Red Star enters the room. Figuring Promise had some information on Mikalek, Tim “accidentally” gets in the way, allowing Promise the chance to escape. The following night, Tim(as Red Robin)heads into the Russian night and tracks down Promise at a warehouse. Promise tells Tim that Mikalek had done several illegal things, but before she could elaborate, Red Star enters the warehouse looking to take Promise in. Tim gets information from his planted bug from before that Mikalek had indeed been using the Unternet, which he shares with Red Star. Red Star says that he already knew that, but since Mikalek was helping the Russian economy, he was fine with it. Realizing that Red Star was in Mikalek's pocket, Tim gives Promise a communicator, tells her to run and engages Red Star in battle. Tim leads Red Star away from Promise and eventually makes his way onto Red Star's spaceship, where he finds a whole mess of missiles. However, Tim's communicator becomes corrupted by the Unternet and knocks out everybody who was using one, including Tim, which ends this issue.

Thoughts: Um, this issue was okay, I guess... It was a bit confusing at times, but since it was the first part of a story, I can understand that. I was a bit disappointed by Red Star's apparent villain turn, but with all the crap he's been through since Infinite Crisis, I wouldn't be surprised to see him go kind of crazy. Besides that, I really don't have much to say about this storyline yet. I'm sure things will become a bit more clear come next issue.

Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.You KNOW Dick Grayson would have hopped right in that shower!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Comic Day! December 29th edition.

Howdy X-Maniacs, it's Wednesday, which means it's time for another installment of New Comic Day! And that's about the end of the excitement for this week's post... This was a VERY light week comic-wise for me, possibly one of the lightest weeks since I've been doing these posts. Before I get to the comics I picked up at the comic book store this week(or lack thereof...), let's take a quick look back at last week... During last week's NCD post, I promised 12 new reviews over the course of this past week, and I managed a respectable 13, topping my prediction, so bully for me! Last week's Pick of the Litter was Fantastic Four #586, and it didn't disappoint. As for last week's Runt of the Litter... Well I haven't read it yet, so who knows if it lived down to my expectations. I'll probably find out tonight.

There we go, that takes care of last week, let's take a peek at what I picked up this week... Avengers #8, Detective Comics #872, SHIELD #5, Teen Titans #90, Widowmaker #2, Batman: The Dark Knight #1, and What If? #200... That gives me a grand total of 7 comics... Ugh. And I can't read SHIELD yet since I'm waiting for that mini-series to conclude before giving it a read, so it's more like 6 comics, which means I can very confidently guarantee 6 new reviews over the course of this week. Granted, I do have a pretty decent amount of subscription comics coming in the mail this week, but who knows when those will get here... Oh well. This week's Pick of the Litter is going to have to be What If? #200, mainly based on the fact that there's a new Stan Lee penned story inside. There really isn't a Runt of the Litter this week... I'm expecting relatively good things from all of these books, so I'm not dreading any of them, meaning there is NO Runt! Well, instead of ending the post here, I'm going to throw in some bonus material since I haven't done a Best of the Rest post in a few weeks.

Terrible Titans Together!
Over the course of the past week I finished reading an Avengers trade paperback about Kang called “Time and Time Again”. It was... okay. I'd give it about a 6 or so overall. I also read a few random back issues, but none of them really left an impact on me. And then I started reading that Titans series from the late 90's... And boy do I wish I hadn't! It's been about as bad as I had been warned! I'm about 9 issues in, and I'm already looking forward to the end, which is still a good 40 issues away! Maybe it'll get better, right? Hopefully???

The Random Scan of the Week!Might as well finish this post right, with a Random Scan! This week we have a scene that had me laughing like a maniac because of how absurd the whole thing is... Love that Joker! Okay, that's it for now, see you guys Saturday with the third annual X Year End Awards, until then, X out!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Superman/Batman #79

Review: This issue gets started in the 853rd century(you all remember DC One Million, don't you? No? Huh...)with the villain Epoch being captured by that century's version of Batman and Superman. Epoch is taken to Pluto, the prison planet(hey wait, I thought Pluto wasn't considered a planet anymore!)where he is read his rights by Robin, the Toy Wonder(yes, the TOY Wonder). Epoch manages to incapacitate Robin and sneaks through the prison, ultimately reaching the Batcave. Once in the Batcave, Epoch dons some special body armor, and is prepared to leave, before he is met by Future Bats again. The two fight, and Epoch manages to open a boom tube and escape to the Justice League headquarters near Jupiter(which IS still a planet!). Future Bats catches up and the two battle again, with Epoch once again getting the upper hand when Brainiac's ship(one of the future JL's trophies)falls on Future Bats. With Future Bats down for the count, Epoch snags an hourglass that can freeze or rewind the effects of time, and heads to the Fortress of Solitude. Upon gaining entrance to the Fortress, Epoch prepares to steal a time-traveling Time Cube, but is approached by both Future Bats(man, he is REALLY persistent!)and Future Supes. Instead of fighting the two heroes, Epoch simply freezes them with the hourglass gets in the Time Cube and heads back in time to a period when he figures he should have no problem conquering the Earth. Epoch's Time Cube pops up in what appears to be early 1980's New York, where he proclaims himself the new ruler of the planet to the surprised populace. This issue ends with Superman, along with Batman and Robin(complete with green speedo)arriving to challenge Epoch's claims.

Thoughts: You know, I kind of liked this issue... It wasn't the best thing I've ever read, but it also didn't leave me angry, confused or any number of other negative emotions. It was what you'd call a perfectly acceptable comic book. The story was straight-forward(or as straight-forward as a story about time travel COULD be), the villain was built up to look strong, and the cliffhanger left me interested in checking out the next issue. What more can I really ask for?

Score: 7 out of 10.Nice legs Robin...

Batman Incorportated #2

Review: We get started with Batman rescuing Catwoman and Mr. Unknown's assistant's girlfriend from a giant squid. Upon being rescued the woman breaks up with Jiro(Unknown's assistant), because she wasn't fond of nearly being eaten by a giant squid... And who can really blame her?! Bats begins to investigate the area and tells Catwoman all about Lord Death Man(the villain who set up last issue's deathtrap), explaining that basically LDM couldn't be killed and that he was crazy. Jiro walks over and tries to offer Bats assistance, but Bats doesn't seem receptive. Jiro then explains that he had been playing the role of Mr. Unknown, since the original had become too old, and that he was hoping to join up with the Batman Incorporated organization. Bats bluntly says no, since Jiro used a gun to shoot LDM, and that guns were a big no-no. With that, Bats and CW leave, and Jiro promises Bats that he hasn't seen the last of him. Meanwhile, LDM returns to life while he was being autopsied and kills the doctors around him. He then struts outside, and is given clothing, weapons and a car by his men, so that he could move on to the next part of his wacky plans. Bats and CW move to intercept LDM as he heads towards a museum(to kill some c-list Japanese super-hero), while Jiro dresses up like Mr. Unknown and also moves towards the museum. Bats lands on top of LDM's car and the two crash at the museum, just as Jiro arrives to protect the c-list hero. LDM emerges from the car and shoots Jiro a few times before Bats manages to beat him to a pulp, and toss him of the top of the museum, since Bats knew LDM couldn't be killed. From there, CW drives over in an armored car and Bats and CW lock LDM in a safe and eventually shoot him into space. This issue ends with Bats revealing that Jiro had faked his death, and that he'd be joining Batman Inc. as the Japanese Batman.

Thoughts: Eh. I liked Lord Death Man, but I didn't really like all that much else here... Strangely enough, it kind of bothered me that Bats tossed LDM off the museum roof to incapacitate the villain... That seemed like such a non-Batman thing to do. I can remember a certain second Robin tossing criminals off of rooftops and Bats having a hissy-fit over it... Anyway, it seems that the Japanese portion of this story has ended, and Bats will now be moving to Argentina to meet up with former Batmen of All Nations member El Gaucho. Since I hated the Batmen of All Nations storyline, I am NOT looking forward to it! But who knows, maybe Grant Morrison will surprise me...

Score: 6 1/2 out of 10.How can't you like a villain who staples his own neck closed?!

X-Men #6

Review: With Xarus' vampire assault on Crazy Mutie Island(also known as Utopia)having gone up in flames, the X-Men decide to strike back at the young vampire leader, since they knew exactly where he was holed up thanks to Wolverine. Meanwhile, Dracula enters Xarus' war room and announces that he was back and that he'd be retaking leadership of the vampire nation. Xarus demands that his vampire minions attack Dracula(his father), but the other vampires aren't dumb enough to take on Dracula. Xarus on the other hand IS dumb enough, and attacks his father. Dracula basically mops the floor with Xarus and tears his head from his neck, ending his son's brief rule over the vampire nation. Vampire Jubilee goes to attack Dracula for what he had done, so Dracula swats her away with no difficulty. By this point, the X-Men and Blade have arrived at the vampire den and come across Xarus' corpse. With Xarus dead, Lord Cyclops decides that there's no reason to fight the vampires, to which Blade wholeheartedly disagrees. Blade makes a move to attack Dracula, so Lord Cyclops blasts Blade unconscious to show Dracula that he didn't want any further troubles with him nor his vampire minions. Dracula hints that he may attack Lord Cyclops and the X-Men just for the hell of it, but Cyclops warns Dracula against such a course of actions, since they had possession of Dracula's head for 17 hours before the X-Men had brought him back to life. Lord Cyclops implies that they could incapacitate Dracula with the flick of a switch, and although Dracula doesn't fully believe the words of Lord Cyclops, he decides against taking action against the X-Men for now. He also hands Vampire Jubilee over to them as a goodwill gesture, and this issue ends with Vampire Jubilee sitting prisoner in Crazy Mutie Island with the X-Men unsure of what they should do with her.

Thoughts: Meh. I really enjoyed the way this storyline began, but the ending left me kind of disappointed. Sure I knew the X-Men would win in the end(they always win...)but I was hoping they'd suffer a few more vampire casualties before things ended. In the end, all we got was Jubilee turned into a vampire and Xarus, who I found myself enjoying, decapitated. I may be in the minority, but I DO think turning Jubilee into a vampire was a good move. First off, she has strong connections to the heart of the X-Men(Wolverine), plus it's not like she was doing anything else since Decimation. Why the hell not turn her into a vampire and freshen up her character a bit? Of course what I really wanted was for Xarus, Dracula, Vampire Jubilee or pretty much ANYBODY to kill Lord Cyclops, but alas, that was not to be... Oh well, here's hoping SOMEBODY kills that arrogant bastard eventually.

Score: 6 out of 10.Bite him... Bite him!!!

X-Factor #212

Review: This issue gets underway with Thor leading X-Factor into Hela's domain(underneath Las Vegas), so that the mutants could rescue Pip the Troll. Layla Miller decides not to enter the underworld, so you KNOW that's going to come into play later on in the story. Anyway, Hela gives Pip over to Thor and company, and tells them to leave, which the gathered heroes happily decide to do. Unfortunately, the only way out is to go through the frozen world of Niflhel, where they'd face an endless horde of dead vikings. Thor and most of X-Factor head towards the dead vikings, while Madrox remains behind to taunt Hela. Being an Asgardian goddess, she doesn't take kindly to that, and tries to grab Madrox with her death grasp, but Darwin jumps in the way. Since Darwin's powers allow him to evolve past any wound, no matter how egregious, he actually evolves into an Asgardian God to counter the Hela's death touch, and trounces Hela. At this point, Layla(I told you she'd wind up doing something!)reaches a metal gauntlet into Hela's domain and begins to pull Thor and X-Factor out, one by one. This issue ends with X-Factor emerging victorious against the hordes of Hela, but Darwin seemingly changed by his experience.

Thoughts: Well, they can't all be gold... I've constantly said that X-Factor is the BEST X-book on the market today, but this issue didn't really live up to that billing. I didn't like the story(Pip the frigging Troll?!), and the outcome was just horrible(Layla just reaches in and pulls all of the X-Factor members to safety?!). The only good to have come out of this issue was Shatterstar learning that Wolfsbane had been lying about Rictor being the father of her child, since Shatterstar ran into the real father(that Asgardian Wolf King guy)in Niflhel. Other then that, this was a really lousy issue to a really good series.

Score: 5 1/2 out of 10.Good old Longshot... A ladies' man until the end.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fantastic Four #586

Review: Just like the last couple of issues, there are three separate storylines going on here, so I'll tackle them one at a time to try to keep this review as coherent as possible. First off we head to the Invisible Woman and Atlantis, where Namor had just killed the king of a rival Atlantian sect. The rival Atlantians are shocked and infuriated by Namor's actions, and as such decide they were going to kill him and his men. Namor seems nonplussed about the situation, which leads Sue to believe that Namor had an ace up his sleeve(if he wore sleeves...), and sure enough, several of Namor's warships prepare to attack the cathedral. Sue erects an enormous invisible barrier, keeping Namor's forces out, while keeping Namor and the angry Atlantians inside. After a day of keeping her shield up, Namor approaches Sue and explains that the rival Atlantians were an ancient sect of Atlantians who had always been hellbent on murdering all that stood in their path, be it fellow Atlantian or surface dweller. Needless to say, Sue is somewhat dubious, but Namor begins to translate some of the words the ancient Atlantians had been using around Sue, which leads to Sue realizing that the rival Atlantians were planning on killing Sue as some kind of sacrifice. Next up we head into space, where Mr. Fantastic was hanging out with Galactus and the Silver Surfer. The Surfer brings some guy named Ted(sorry, I have NO clue as to who he is!)and Alyssa Moy(who is apparently a robot now)on-board for the ride to Nu-World. Upon arriving in Nu-World's orbit, Galactus demands to know why the occupants of Nu-World(a future version of Earth)killed his future self. Reed explains that 500 years in the future, the sun will destabilize, and that the Earth would begin to freeze. Billions of Earthlings die, and the remaining humans decide to head back in time by using Galactus and his massive powers. The future humans succeed in escaping their doomed planet, but in doing so kill Galactus. Upon hearing this story, Galactus asks Reed if he could find a way to make sure that future doesn't come to pass, lest Galactus destroy the Earth immediately to avoid his eventual death. After some thought, Reed tells Galactus that even if he couldn't fix the sun, he would be able to provide the Earth with enough food so that they'd never become desperate enough to try to kill Galactus. Galactus is cool with that, but decides he was going to eat Nu-World, because all that talking had made him hungry... Okay, maybe that's not EXACTLY what happened, but close enough. Reed doesn't want to sit by and watch Galactus eat a few billion people, so he asks Galactus for a few minutes so he could try to teleport as may people from Nu-World as he could before the planet was devoured. Galactus cautions Reed, telling him that he wasn't going to give Reed any time to save the inhabitants of Nu-World, and that if he happens to be on Nu-World when it was eaten, Galactus would go and eat Earth too. Ever being the hero, Reed rushes planet-side to help the denizens of Nu-World. Finally, the Baxter Building comes under attack by forces of Annihilus, who were hiding on Earth. The bugs want to open the portal to the Negative Zone inside the Baxter Building in order for the main army of Annihilus to cross over and destroy the Earth. The Human Torch and Thing(who is still powerless)are tasked with fighting off the invaders as well as protecting all of the children who were going to school there. Unfortunately, this issue ends with the bugs breaching the Negative Zone portal, allowing hundreds of Annihilus' insect forces to come spewing out.

Thoughts: Whew! This was the embodiment of a set-up issue, ladies and gentlemen! Jonathan Hickman is lining up all of his pieces in preparation for next issue's climatic(double-size!)issue. Sue is trapped under the sea with Namor, surrounded by crazed ancient Atlantians, Reed is about to be devoured by the big G, and Johnny and Ben are being over-run by Annihilus' forces... So yeah, this was a pretty good issue, but it WAS a set-up issue, and as such, I never really found myself THAT engrossed in the story, since I knew nothing major was going to happen. We all know something major IS going to happen next issue, so this issue was basically a formality. It had to happen, but nothing COULD really happen... So that's what I thought about this issue. Before next issue, I wanted to throw out my prediction for which member of the FF would be taking the long dirt nap... I'd say the safest member of the team looks to be Reed, since his death would cause Galactus to head back to the Earth to eat it, and that's not going to happen. I can't see Namor allowing any harm to come to Sue, plus it would be REALLY lame if she gets killed off by a bunch of no-name Atlantians! Which leaves us with Ben and Johnny... This entire story seems to be setting up Ben as the fall guy, especially since he doesn't have his powers, and as such is vulnerable for the first time in a long time, but I think that's just TOO obvious... Nope, my pick is Johnny. I can see Ben protecting the kids from Annihilus' forces, and being overrun, only for Johnny to fly in the way of what would have been a fatal blow to Ben and/or the kids. So that's my pick, Johnny sacrifices himself for either Ben or the kids, and then gets to do the whole dramatic good-bye to Ben. With Johnny dead, Ben's powers return and he clobbers Annihilus and his goons. Plus that scenario leaves Ben filled with guilt over the fact that he allowed his powers to be taken away, which in a way, caused Johnny to perish. Of course, Hickman might mix things up and move some of his pieces around the board next issue, messing up all of my predictions, but as is, I say the Matchstick gets snuffed out. But that's my idea, what about the rest of you FFers? Who do you see biting the bullet?

Score: 8 out of 10.Run Reed RUN!

Zatanna #8

Review: We get started with Zatanna visiting her psychiatrist, in order to try to overcome her fear of puppets. Yes, puppets... And who can blame her?! Those damned things are CREEPY!!! But I digress... Now where was I? Oh yes, the puppets. Zatanna explains to her shrink that she had gone to received an award for her magic act, and that on the way to the stage she spotted a display case full of puppets. They freak her out a bit, but she decides to go on-stage anyway to get her award. During her acceptance speech, she spots one of the puppets out of the corner of her eye, standing on the edge of the stage, watching her. Needless to say, Zatanna quickly wraps the speech up and rushes back outside, where she discovers that the puppet she thought she saw was still in its case. The shrink asks Zatanna if there was an instance in her past explaining her irrational fear of puppets, and all Zatanna can come up with is when her father was preforming at a Vaudeville revival show with a world-renowned puppeteer when she was a little girl. While her father wasn't around, Zatanna wandered into the path of a murderer, and blacked out. The shrink tells Zatanna that she should meditate on that scene, and Zatanna leaves, planning on doing just that. Upon heading home, Zatanna looks into the puppeteer from that old Vaudeville show, and learns that soon after that act with her father, he vanished. Since she was unable to ask him for help, Zatanna goes to sleep and hunts down Fuseli, a nightmare demon she had dealings with a few issues back. Zatanna tells Fuseli to enter her dreams so she could head back to her childhood and the time she ran into that murderer, since that seemed to be where her fear of puppets began. The demon complies, and Zatanna realizes that the murderer was the puppeteer, and that when she happened across him, he was in the process of stabbing some poor sap to death. Not wanting any witnesses, the puppeteer goes to stab little Zatanna, but her father arrives, and flies into a rage. Zatanna's father turns the puppeteer into a puppet as punishment for his actions, and since Zatanna was hysterical due to what she had witnessed(and really, who wouldn't be after seeing THAT?!)Zatanna's father mindwipes Zatanna, causing her to forget the entire scene. Now having her answers, Zatanna wakes up, and this issue ends with Zatanna tied to her bed with the creepy puppet standing over her with a knife.

Thoughts: I have to say that I enjoyed this comic. It wasn't the best issue of Zatanna that I've ever read, and it took a long time before we got to the main gist of the story, but it was still a good read. I would have preferred it if the story had moved a bit faster(basically this entire issue set up the scene on the last page), but hey, what can you do? So next issue should give us Zatanna versus a possessed puppet... That should be... something...

Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.Damned creepy puppets!!!

What If? Dark Reign #1

Review: This issue revolves around that totally out of character moment when Clint Barton(Hawkeye/Ronin)decided he was going to kill Norman Osborn. In the regular 616 Marvel Universe, Clint fails, and is captured by Stormin' Norman and his fake Avengers. In this reality though, Clint succeeds and puts an arrow between Osborn's eyes, becoming public enemy number one. With one of their own responsible for a murder, Captain America, Spider-Man and Mockingbird decide that they had to locate Clint before some trigger happy Osborn supporter did. After some sleuthing, Mockingbird locates Clint huddled in a park pretending to be a hobo, and after some thought, she decides to give him a fake ID and passport so he can leave the country, since it was obvious that nowhere in the US would be safe for Clint. Clint heads for a taxi, but is stopped by Cap, who punches Clint, but then allows him to run away... Huh? Clint makes a break for it, but is watched from a rooftop by a plainclothes Spider-Man. Clint decides to hide in a bar(?), but is soon accosted by both Cap and Spidey... So much for leaving the country I guess... While the trio argue over who was right and who was wrong, they catch a news bulletin and spot a madman threatening to blow up a hotel where the madman thought Clint had been hiding. Oh, and Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and their baby were in that hotel just to complicate matters even more. Spidey and Cap let Clint go, and he heads to the building, where he confronts the crazy man. Clint gets close enough to the nutjob to get his hands on the bomb trigger, but in doing so is shot and killed by a concealed handgun the madman had on his person, ending this issue.

Thoughts: Okay, in the interest of total disclosure, allow me to admit that a)I am, and always have been a HUGE fan of Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and b)I HATED the fact that Clint ever even considered killing Osborn, because it was SO out of character for him. So right off the bat, that's a big strike against this story from the get go. Did I like the story? No, not really. It wasn't that the story was horrible or anything, it was just that I hated that Clint could so callously kill somebody, along with a number of other little quibbles. I mean, why did Cap and Spidey allow Clint to go after the madman on the hotel rooftop alone? Why couldn't Spidey have been backing Clint up, and as such have been there to web the gun away at the last second? I mean Cap and Spidey just let Clint, who WAS a wanted criminal, run off to save the entire hotel building alone?! Bah, I could have definitely gone without reading this one...

Score: 5 1/2 out of 10.This scene seems vaguely familiar... All we're missing is Clint dressed in green and Osborn stuck to the wall!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Deadpool #30

Review: This issue begins with a bunch of vampires(or as Deadpool calls them REPEATEDLY, “Draculas”)heading to DP's hideout to hire him for a job. DP doesn't want to help the vampires, since he's a good guy now and all, but the vampires inform him that they're also good guys as well. DP is dubious, but decides to meet with the vampires the following night. The next night, DP heads to a hospital and meets up with the vampires(who live underneath). The vampires(who are members of the Mystikos Sect)explain that Dracula's son Xarus has instigated a vampire civil war, and that a rival sect of vampires(the Claw Sect)were going to kill them because they wouldn't side with Xarus. DP still doesn't get where he comes into the picture, or why he'd help vampires, so the Mystikos vampires explain that the Claw vampires have a mystical amulet that allows them to walk around during they day, thus making the Mystikos vampires sitting ducks in the daytime. The Mystikos go on to tell DP that they founded the hospital they were living under over 100 years ago, because they were trying to help people, unlike many of their brethren. After mulling it all over, DP decides to help the Mystikos vampires, and heads up to the surface where he saves a female doctor from a Claw vampire. DP falls in love with the doctor(because she was covered in blood and holding a handgun)and decides to take her into the hospital chapel, but not before informing the other Claw vampires of where he was going. DP kills another of the Claw vampires in the chapel(by shooting his amulet), and this issue ends with a whole mess of Claw vampires heading into the hospital security room in order to take advantage of the surveillance cameras located there.

Thoughts: God help me, but I LOVED this issue! Daniel Way(writer)was ON in this issue! DP's lines had me laughing out loud at times, and his refusal to call the vampires, “vampires” was hilarious. I could go on and on gushing about some of my favorite moments from this issue(“Draculas dressed like mummies?”), but instead I'm just going to end this review by saying this: If you only read one vampire infested Deadpool comic this year, make it this one! You WON'T be disappointed!

Score: 10 out of 10. Yup, I liked this issue THAT much!Damn those Draculas!!!

Teen Titans: Cold Case #1

Review: Before we start, it's kind of important to know that this is a flashback issue from back when the Teen Titans comic was still a good read! Time-wise, this is right after Infinite Crisis/One Year Later. Okay, with that out of the way, let's begin. This story opens with Tim Drake(Robin)reliving his father's death from Identity Crisis in a nightmare. Tim wakes up with a start, and discovers Ravager in his bed trying to comfort him... Man, she just can't take a hint, can she? Tim throws Ravager out of his bed, and by this time the rest of the Titans(in this case, Wonder Girl, Cyborg and Kid Devil)walk in the room to see what the commotion was all about. WG is upset that her boyfriend(at the time)was laying nearly naked in his bed with a equally unclothed Ravager on his floor and storms away before Tim has a chance to explain. Angry about the whole situation, Tim lashes out at Ravager, Kid Devil AND Cyborg before storming away. Ravager heads outside and discovers a hologram of her father, Deathstroke the Terminator. Deathstroke seems to be aware of Ravager's Tim-troubles, and tells her he has something that would give Robin some closure, as well as get Ravager back in Tim's good graces. This mystery item seems to be locked in a suitcase... Before Ravager can get any further answers, Deathstroke shuts down the hologram, and Ravager heads off to one of Deathstroke's safe-houses. Upon entering, she discovers a mirror that appears to be a portal to... somewhere, and is prepared to hop in, before Kid Devil reveals that he followed Ravager. Kid Devil tells Ravager that he was there to assist her, but warns her that the mirror portal would indicate that Deathstroke was working with Mirror Master, and perhaps the rest of the Flash's Rogues. Ravager, being Ravager, ignores all that nonsense and leaps into the mirror, followed by Kid Devil. The two Titans pop out of the mirror right in the middle of a poker game between Capt. Cold, Mirror Master and Trickster. The fight is relatively even until Ravager notices a suitcase in a display case, along with Capt. Boomerang's costume. This distraction proves costly, as the Rogues manage to defeat Kid Devil, and then capture Ravager as well. Back at Titans Tower, Tim is feeling badly about how he treated Ravager and tries to talk to her, but discovers that both her and Kid Devil were gone. After checking out the security cameras, the Titans learn that Ravager was talking to Deathstroke(actually his hologram)outside, and figure she had kidnapped Kid Devil for her evil father. Since Tim had placed a bug on Ravager, the heroes know that she was in the Flash Museum in Central City, which is naturally where they decide to go. Meanwhile, the Rogues speak to Deathstroke through one of Mirror Master's mirrors, and we find out that Capt. Cold was willing to trade Ravager to Deathstroke, provided Deathstroke told the Rogues the location of Capt. Boomerang(not that fat, old, bald, useless one, but the second one, Owen Mercer). Before the villains can complete their transaction, the Titans manage to discover their whereabouts, via a broken mirror in the Flash Museum. The heroes arrive at the Rogues base, but learn that the trio of villains had reinforced their numbers by calling in pretty much every single Flash villain out there! After an extended battle, Cyborg manages to get his hands on Mirror Master's gun, and after tinkering with it creates a portal for the Titans to escape through, since it was apparent the Titans wouldn't be able to defeat THAT many villains. The Titans escape, with Ravager managing to snag the suitcase before she made good her escape as well. Back home, Ravager gives Tim the suitcase, and he opens it and finds... a gun. Most likely the gun his father used to kill Capt. Boomerang before his own death during the Identity Crisis x-over. Tim takes the gun and contemplates his past, and future, and this issue comes to a close with Deathstroke talking to the mounted head of his old friend Wintergreen, telling him everything had worked out for the best, and that one day Ravager would take her rightful place by his side again.

Thoughts: See, THIS is the Teen Titans the way I want them to be... Tim, WG, Ravager, even Kid Devil. That's the team I enjoyed, before the bottom fell out. This comic was such a welcome read, pretty much containing everything I'd have hoped for... A Tim-heavy story, Deathstroke and Ravager, the Rogues, and a story that tied in nicely with the past, as well as the Titans Tomorrow storyline. I guess if I HAD to state a gripe, I'd say that the ending, with the Rogues stupidly losing the suitcase to Ravager, was a bit disappointing, but other than that, I really can't find anything to complain about... This was the Titans the way I like them.

Score: 9 out of 10.Sheesh, some women just can't take a hint!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Hey all, I just wanted to wish everybody out there a very Merry Christmas(or if you prefer, a generic Happy Holidays!)! Since I'll be doing the whole, “Christmas with the family” thing tomorrow, I probably won't be able to post any new material until Sunday. I should have Teen Titans: Cold Case #1 and Deadpool #30 up and posted by then(at the least). Well, that'll do it for now, here's hoping everybody has a great holiday season, X out.

Retro-Review: Spider-Man and Batman #1(1995)

Review: This issue gets started in earnest with Spider-Man heading to Ravencroft Institute to meet with his ally Dr. Kafka, who was being told by the government that she was required to allow a Dr. Briar to place a chip in Carnage's head that was supposed to halt his criminal urges. Upon finding this out, Carnage escapes his cell, but is quickly halted by a mess of armed guards and Spidey. From there, the chip is implanted in Carnage's head, and shockingly, it seems to work. With this success, Briar heads to Arkham Asylum and tells Dr. Arkham that based on her success with Carnage, the government was allowing her to use Joker as her next test subject. Once again, the procedure seems to be a complete success, and Briar decides to take the docile Carnage and Joker to Washington to show off her handiwork to Congress and the President. While riding through Gotham with the villains, Carnage reveals that he was faking and that his symbiote had managed to short out his chip a long time ago. Carnage hops out of the car with Briar and Joker and is met by Batman, who was never sold on the procedure. Batman tries to convince Carnage to let Briar go and fight him instead, but Carnage explains that he had nothing personal with Bats, and as such was happy to kill Briar first and then deal with Bats. Luckily for Briar, Spider-Man arrives on the scene and spirits Briar away from the distracted Carnage. From there, the two heroes engage Carnage, but he manages to escape with Joker after throwing a bunch of razor sharp webbing and projectiles at the police officers who were responding to the disturbance. At an abandoned warehouse, Carnage manages to dig the chip out of Joker's brain(through his nose!), bringing back the crazy Joker. Carnage then gushes that he's always admired Joker's work and would be honored to work with him, so the two villains head off to one of Joker's secret hideouts together. Meanwhile, after initially turning down Spidey's offer of assistance(Gotham is MY city, dammit!!!)Batman changes his mind(with some help from Alfred)and decides to team-up with Spidey. The villains wind up having a falling out when Carnage is disgusted that Joker wants to kill the people of Gotham with a madness plague, while Carnage wanted to just go out there and kill as many Gothamites as he could with his bare hands. After some insults, Carnage goes to attack Joker, who sneaks out of his warehouse hideout and blows it up, leaving Carnage for dead. Batman and Spidey come across the destroyed warehouse and discover the corpse of Carnage, but figure(correctly)that the corpse wasn't Carnage, but a different body that was draped with a piece of Carnage's symbiote. While the heroes look around, Carnage manages to snag Batman and decides he was going to kill Batman atop the largest building in Gotham in front of the gathered media. Spidey moves to attack Carnage, but Carnage warns Spidey that if he takes another step, he'd just kill Bats there and then. At this time, Joker arrives on the scene and tells Carnage that NOBODY was allowed to kill Bats except for him. Joker pulls out a jack-in-the-box and reveals that his deadly madness plague was inside, and that he'd release the plague, killing everybody present(including himself!)to stop Carnage from killing Batman. Carnage begins to panic, which leads to his symbiote breaking down a bit, giving Batman the opportunity to attack and beat Carnage into unconsciousness. Meanwhile, Spidey webs the jack-in-the-box away from Joker and goes after the Clown Prince of Crime, attacking him in a frenzy, wanting to kill Joker to prevent him from killing anybody else. Joker eggs Spidey on, telling him to do it, but Spidey catches himself and simply knocks out the disappointed Joker. From there, the villains are taken back to their respective prisons and Batman and Spidey shake hands and leave as allies, ending this issue.

Thoughts: I liked this comic, BUT, there just seemed to be something missing for me... The strange thing is that I can't quite put my finger on it... I think my problem with this comic was the fact that everything seemed kind of rushed. This issue was 48 pages, but I think it easily could have gone 64 with no problem. After I put it down, I really would have liked more. The entire first half of this comic tried to show the reader the similarities between Bats and Spidey, as well as Dr. Briar and her experiments. The second half gave us Spidey and Bats teaming up, Carnage and Joker teaming up and then having their falling out, Bats and Spidey fighting Carnage, Joker interfering, and then the endgame. Personally I would have liked to have seen more of Carnage and Joker and more of Spidey and Bats before the final battle came around. Still, this was a fun(if all too short)comic that I'd happily recommend.

Score: 7 out of 10.Why couldn't I get a good 20 more pages of this!

Retro-Review: Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights #1(1994)

Review: We get this comic underway with the Punisher shooting up a warehouse in Gotham City. How did we get to this point you ask? Well, it seems that Jigsaw(one of the Punisher's FEW reoccurring enemies)has stayed in Gotham since the last Punisher/Batman crossover, and Punisher has finally returned to Gotham to take care of Jigsaw, once and for all. After killing most of the goons in the warehouse, Punisher corners one and demands to know if the thug had heard anything about Jigsaw. The thug claims innocence, so Punisher decides to kill the thug, since he wasn't offering any decent information. Before he can pull the trigger, Batman hops in the way and Punisher and Bats get into a scuffle. While the two heroes are fighting, the thug gets out of Dodge. Ultimately, the warehouse collapses, which separates Bats and Punisher, allowing Punisher a way out. From there we catch up with the thug from earlier, who rushes to Jigsaw and tells him that Punisher was looking for him. Jigsaw seems fine with that, since he was working with Joker(!), and Punisher coming after him in Gotham simply saves Jigsaw the trouble of hunting Punisher down back in New York. After Joker kills the thug(because that's what he does), we find out that Joker was helping Jigsaw familiarize himself with the way the Gotham underworld worked, with the endgame resulting in Jigsaw taking over the entire Gotham City underworld. As for Joker, he's simply helping Jigsaw because it would lead to widespread gang warfare and carnage in Gotham. After some sleuthing, Batman and Punisher both discover that Joker and Jigsaw were planning on making a move on a rival mobster at a Gotham nightclub, which leads to both heroes heading towards the building. By the time they arrive, Joker has directed Jigsaw and his men to open fire on the rival mobster's crew, leading to a massive gunfight in the club. Punisher arrives first and is pleased to discover a roomful of mobsters and maniacs, meaning he could simply open fire at will. Batman arrives and has to try to halt the shooting, while preventing Punisher from killing anybody. After an extended battle, Joker tries to flee, but is followed by the Punisher, while Batman confronts Jigsaw and gets shot pointblank in the chest. Jigsaw celebrates the fact that he killed Batman, but his celebration is premature as Bats gets up and beats Jigsaw unconscious... Guess Jigsaw never heard of body armor... While Bats is taking care of business, Joker has managed to escape outside, where it appears that he'd be able to beat a hasty retreat from the Punisher. At least he was until he slips on a banana peel(?!)and falls down in an alley, losing his gun in the process. Punisher approaches Joker and prepares to execute the Clown Prince of Crime, but is stopped by the timely arrival of Batman. Batman hooks Punisher's arms and tells Joker to run away, which Joker happily does. With that, Punisher and Batman go at it again, and Batman easily tosses the injured Punisher aside. Batman gives Punisher one opportunity to leave Gotham, warning him that if he refused to, Batman would put the Punisher in Blackgate Prison or Arkham Asylum personally. With no real recourse, Punisher gets up and walks away, swearing that he'd never again step foot in Gotham City.

Thoughts: You know, I liked this comic. It was basically a fast paced, all-action, mile a minute thrill-ride. There really wasn't much of a story besides “Jigsaw and Joker team-up, while Punisher tries to kill them and Batman tries to arrest them.” but that worked well in this comic. It was one of those comics where you could basically turn off your brain and just enjoy the ride. So Chuck Dixon took care of his end by providing us a fun story, and John Romita Jr. didn't disappoint with his take on the Joker... I don't know if I can remember JRJR ever doing the art on a comic with the Joker in it, but man did I enjoy his take on Mistah J! The first scene where Joker enters the comic might just be one of my favorite Joker drawings ever. So great art, plus a fun, mindless story gets a big thumbs up from me!

Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.Batman must really enjoy having a difficult life...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Retro-Review: Batman/Daredevil: King of New York #1(2000)

Review: This issue kicks off in Gotham City with Daredevil watching as Catwoman tries to hand over a suitcase full of Kingpin related documents to a bunch of goons standing on a rooftop. Before Catwoman can make the switch though, Batman swings over, much to the rage of DD. DD tries to stop Bats from interfering, but it is too late, as Catwoman has spotted the two heroes, and has grabbed her case and run off with it. Batman questions the goons on the roof, but they seem too afraid to tell Batman who hired them... Too afraid? Hmm... After getting nowhere with the goons, DD reveals that he had put a tracer in the suitcase and that he was going to find out who hired Catwoman to get those documents and why. Batman decides to tag along because Gotham is HIS city... Man, what an ego... Anyway, Catwoman brings the suitcase to Scarecrow, who hugs it(huh...)after giving Catwoman a key to a locker at a train station containing her payment. Meanwhile, the two heroes discover that Catwoman knew about the tracer and had put it on a cat(HA!), meaning they had no leads. Batman takes DD back to the Batcave and reveals that his glove took some tissue samples from the goons on the rooftop(eww)and after a quick analysis, he discovers that the goons had some of the Scarecrow's patented fear toxin on them. Knowing that Scarecrow had papers documenting Kingpin's illegal activities, the two heroes figure that Scarecrow's next stop would be New York City, and as such decide to go there. Scarecrow arrives in NYC first, and begins spraying his fear gas on Kingpin's men, basically making a total mess of Kingpin's illegal operations, while plunging the gangs of NY into a fear induced crime wave. Our two intrepid heroes arrive in the City and try(unsuccessfully)to locate Scarecrow before deciding to just ask Kingpin if he had any information as to why Scarecrow was targeting him and his operations. After surviving a bomb sent by one of his former goons, Kingpin is in no mood to help DD and Bats, and tells them as much. DD and Bats leave and Kingpin decides to take care of all of his problems starting with DD and Bats, who he tries to gun down in a helicopter. The heroes avoid the hail of bullets, and Kingpin heads off to the Statue of Liberty, which is where his informers had placed Scarecrow. It seems that Scarecrow wanted to start a minor gang war to draw the attention of all of NYC's heroes, while he enacted his real plan, spraying gallons of canisters of fear gas into the stormy NYC night sky, where it would be carried back to the City, raining terror down upon the hapless citizens. From his perch, Scarecrow spots Kingpin's helicopter and shoots it out of the air with a high powered rifle, nearly killing Kingpin had he not been able to fall towards the Statue, landing on it's head. By this point, Bats and DD have figured out what Scarecrow was planning and have arrived at the Statue via a boat(they were following Kingpin's helicopter). Upon stepping foot on the island, the two heroes figure Scarecrow was either in the torch or the head, so they split up to cover both spots. Bats winds up running into a VERY angry Kingpin in the stairwell who attacks the Caped Crusader since he wanted to kill Scarecrow and wasn't going to let anybody stop him. While Bats and Kingpin are occupied, DD manages to find Scarecrow perched by the Statue's torch and moves in to apprehend him. Scarecrow sprays DD in the face with some fear gas, but that has no effect because DD is the man WITHOUT fear! DD literally laughs off the effects of the fear gas, which leaves Scarecrow completely dumbfounded and wide open to a swift kick. The kick knocks Scarecrow off of the torch where he is snagged by DD's billy club. DD calls to Batman that he had taken care of Scarecrow, and upon hearing that, Kingpin decides to stop fighting, since it was obvious that he wouldn't be able to kill Scarecrow now. Batman tells Kingpin that he'll be going to jail for his role in the evening's events, but Kingpin(rightfully)tells Bats that wouldn't be happening, since they both knew Batman would never go to court to testify against Kingpin. With that, Batman and DD wrap Scarecrow up and head back to the Big Apple in their boat, being forced to take solace in the fact that while Kingpin was still a free man, he suffered some financial setbacks at Scarecrow's hands.

Thoughts: First off, a confession... I am a HUGE Scarecrow fan, and firmly believe that he could/should be Batman's number two villain behind the Joker. When written properly, Scarecrow is creepy, menacing and quite difficult to defeat. So the fact that Scarecrow was one of the two main villains in this one automatically gave it a leg up for me. With all that said, I think Alan Grant(writer)did a very good job portraying Scarecrow as totally crazy and unpredictable, as well as a menace. I also enjoyed Kingpin here, as he was basically just collateral damage in Scarecrow's bizarre plot to have his fear gas rain down from the heavens onto the streets of New York. Batman and Daredevil really didn't seem to like each other here, as they teamed up once before in what I'm going to assume was team-up that didn't really go all that well. There were a few little things that bugged me, such as Batman and Kingpin fighting to a stalemate in the stairwell of the Statue of Liberty, and Scarecrow shooting down a helicopter(?!)from the Statue. The story was also a bit out there(Scarecrow decides to throw Kingpin's organization into chaos in order to distract everybody so he could sneak into the Statue of Liberty to unleash his fear gas into a storm?), but I guess it can just be explained away as “Scarecrow is crazy, so his plan was crazy”. All in all though, I'd have NO problem recommending this comic to Marvel and DC fans alike.

Score: 8 out of 10.My, what a big gun you have, Scarecrow...

Retro-Review: Daredevil/Batman #1(1997)

Review: This issue gets started with Two-Face stealing some experimental brain drugs from Wayne Enterprises, which naturally leads to Batman investigating. Batman's investigation leads him to New York, where it seems that Two-Face has hooked up with Mr. Hyde, with the two villains stealing a bunch of technological items. Batman winds up running into Daredevil, who was investigating the New York side of the crime wave. The two heroes don't hit it off, getting into the obligatory “super-heroes meet, have a misunderstanding, fight, and then make up” thing, although DD and Bats don't bother with the “make up” part, mainly because DD is hoping that Two-Face could be saved, since they had met in college. Bats doesn't believe Harvey Dent is there anymore, only Two-Face, while DD feels the opposite to be true. The two heroes split up, but wind up back together again after coming across a body left behind by Two-Face and Hyde. After some more searching, the heroes manage to track down the villains and discover that Two-Face was in the process of betraying Hyde with the stolen brain drugs from Wayne Enterprises. DD and Bats inform Hyde of Two-Face's duplicity(ha!), which leads to Hyde going on a rampage and attacking everybody. Unfortunately, this was a part of Two-Face's plan, as an angry Hyde winds up making the drugs speed up the process of turning Hyde's brain into a living computer... Yeah, that's the big plan here... Batman goes after the rampaging Hyde, while DD talks Two-Face into giving up the control that would knock Hyde unconscious by referencing their past in Law School. With that, DD KO's Hyde and Bats collects Two-Face to take him back to Gotham. The epilogue here involves Matt Murdoch(DD's alter ego)and his law partner, Foggy Nelson, heading to Gotham to attend a Wayne Foundation charity event. Matt and Bruce Wayne(Batman's alter ego)meet up and seem to recognize each other, and this issue end with Bruce telling Matt to never think about coming back to Gotham again.

Thoughts: Hmm... So far this was the worst of the Marvel/DC x-overs I've read this week. I never really got the story(why the hell was Two-Face trying to turn Hyde's brain into a computer?!), and Batman was really playing the role of jackass here... I mean I get that he's unlikable and all, but you'd think DD pissed in his coffee or something. I found myself feeling bad for DD, and the ending just hammered home Batman's nasty attitude throughout this comic after he flat out tells DD not to come back to Gotham... Jeez Bats, chill out! Anyway, there were some good moments here, and I enjoyed the interactions between lawyers Two-Face and DD. Unfortunately, that was about the only thing I enjoyed here...

Score: 5 out of 10.Batman: a jerk in any comic book company.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Comic Day! December 22nd edition.

Hey all, X here with an early Merry Christmas to you all. Oh, and a Happy Holidays as well. With the niceties out of the way, it's time for me to bust out my usual spiel... That's right, it's Wednesday, which means it's time for yet another New Comic Day! As always, before I get to the books I've purchased this week, let's take a look back at the week that was. I promised 10 new reviews between last week and this week and I managed 13 reviews, a tidy 3 books over my expected number, which means I get to pat myself on the back. Good job X! Last week's Pick of the Litter(Uncanny X-Force #3)got a mediocre score, but so did most of the comics I reviewed last week, so yeah. Last week's Runt of the Litter(Brightest Day #16)was about as bad as expected, so I did manage to get that one right.

So that's it, last week is over, onto this week! My comic book store had a trade sale where you could buy 2 and get the third free, so I brought 6 trades and got 2 for free! That gets a hearty “YAY!” from me. Before moving onto the comics, let me list the trades. I picked up Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, Fantastic Four: Prime Elements, Captain America: America First, Superman: Red Son, Hellboy: Masks and Monsters, and Spider-Man: The Real Clone Saga. I've been looking to get my hands on Red Son for quite some time now, and I've been searching for that Hellboy trade FOREVER! That trade collects the Hellboy, Starman, Batman two part story I've never been able to get my hands on, so I was nearly euphoric when I saw it there. I also picked up 10 random back issues, but they were just that, totally random, so I'm not even going to bother listing them here. So that's it for the trades, what new comics did I snag today??? Let's take a look. Invincible #76, Batman Annual #28, Batman Incorporated #2, Zatanna #8, X-Men #6, What If? Dark Reign #1, Teen Titans: Cold Case #1, Superman/Batman #79, Outsiders #35, Namor #5, Justice League: Generation Lost #16, Invincible Iron Man #33, Fantastic Four #586, and finally, Deadpool #30. Oh, plus I got that free Marvel calendar which was pretty cool. So that's 14 new comics, but I still can't read the Invincible or Generation Lost comics yet since I'm still trying to catch up with those series, so I'm going guarantee 12 reviews, although I suspect I'll be able to bust out more then that. But officially, I'm promising 12 new reviews. This week's Pick of the Litter? Um, I'm going to go with Fantastic Four #586, with Deadpool #30 and Zatanna #8 being a close second and third. I'm also REALLY intrigued by that Teen Titans: Cold Case #1 as well. As for this week's Runt of the Litter? That's going to go to the thus far disappointing Namor series. Outsiders #35 could also make a run at the most dreaded book of this week though.

Usually this is where I sign off, and do the whole, “X out.” thing, but I noticed that I didn't do a Best of the Rest post last week, which means I didn't post a Random Scan of the Week... We can't have that, so I'll post a Random Scan here and NOW I'll say until next time, X out!

Jeez, Jason Todd REALLY had a sucky run as Robin, didn't he...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Retro-Review: Green Lantern/Silver Surfer: Unholy Alliances #1

Review: This issue begins with the Silver Surfer coming across a destroyed planet and discovering Cyborg Superman standing in the rubble. Cyborg Supes doesn't have the slightest idea why he's in the Marvel Universe, but attacks the Surfer nonetheless. While that's going on, Kyle Rayner hears some explosions from his apartment and heads outside to check it out(as Green Lantern, naturally)and discovers Terrax tearing up a park. Kyle asks Terrax who he was and what he was up to, and Terrax explains that he was from another dimension and was told that if he defeated Kyle he'd be able to take over the DCU. Back to the Marvel U, the Surfer's battle with Cyborg Supes is interrupted by the arrival of Hal Jordan(this was back when he was Parallax), who had headed to the Marvel U to kill Cyborg Supes in retribution for the destruction of Coast City. The Surfer intervenes, since he was unsure as to what was going on, which gives Cyborg Supes the chance to escape. That naturally angers Hal, but he cools off after the Surfer tells Hal he could locate Cyborg Supes wherever he goes. The two talk, and they realize that they have a lot in common, with Hal trying to do whatever he could to bring back Coast City, while the Surfer was haunted by all of the worlds he allowed to be destroyed while he was working for Galactus. Ultimately Hal convinces the Surfer that he could return all of those dead planets to life(as well as fix Coast City)if they combined powers. After a moment of thought, the Surfer agrees to add his Power Cosmic to Hal's Parallax powers. Back in the DCU, Terrax is about to kill Kyle, when Kyle is saved by the timely arrival of Thanos(!?!). Thanos sends Terrax back to the Marvel U with his time/space traveling chair and introduces himself to Kyle, stating that Hal was up to no good and was about to fracture all of reality with his newfound powers. Kyle is dubious, since Thanos doesn't seem very trustworthy, but agrees to go with him, since Thanos says he had concocted a weapon that would counteract Hal. However, Thanos's weapon needed Kyle's GL abilities to power it. With his new powers Hal fixes the world Cyborg Supes destroyed, much to the Surfer's amazement before deciding he'd head back to the DCU to resurrect Coast City. Back in the DCU, Thanos brings Kyle to the former location of Oa(it was destroyed in a battle between Kyle and Hal)where Kyle discovers there was a rift in space that was serving as a gateway to the Marvel Universe. Upon seeing this sight, Kyle agrees to power Thanos's machine before the rift got any worse. Kyle loads his GL powers into the machine, leading to a massive power surge, one so large that Hal and the Surfer notice it from the Marvel U and head towards the source. Unfortunately for Kyle, Thanos betrays him, steals all of the power left from where Oa once stood, and announces that he was going to destroy all of reality in an effort to be reunited with the love of his life, Death. Thanos goes to kill Kyle, but by this point, Hal and the Surfer arrive. Sensing the powers of Oa inside of Thanos, Hal goes after him, leaving the Surfer to attack Kyle, who he thought was in cahoots with Thanos. Hal and Thanos talk, and learn that they were working towards very different goals, so Hal, with the powers of Parallax and the Power Cosmic, takes on Thanos, who was being fueled by Oa itself. The Surfer and Kyle also battle for a bit, until Kyle is able to convince the Surfer he was duped by Thanos, and didn't share Thanos's insane dreams. While Hal creates worlds, and Thanos destroys them, the Surfer and Kyle come up with a last ditch plan to have Kyle's GL ring absorb ALL of the powers from both Thanos and Hal, which he surprisingly is able to do. However, the power is WAAAAY too much for a normal man to hold, so the Surfer, with his cosmic infused body, offers to take in all of the power. Kyle sends it to the Surfer, who after some difficulty is able to contain and control all of the energies. The Surfer puts the powers back where they belong, which closes the rift in space, sending the Surfer and Thanos back to the Marvel side, and ending this issue.

Thoughts: Oooo... I REALLY enjoyed this one! It had three VERY important things going for it. Kyle Rayner as the lone Green Lantern, Hal Jordan as Parallax(the way it SHOULD be)and Thanos as... well, Thanos! I especially enjoyed the interaction between the Surfer and Hal, since they really DID seem to have the best interest of the universe in mind. Who can fault them for wanting to return billions back to life? As for Thanos and Kyle, I liked Thanos being the sneaky, manipulative bastard, to Kyle's still kind of novice hero. Thanos sent Terrax after Kyle with the sole intention to save Kyle and gain his confidence, which actually worked. Thanos played his role as hero perfectly, and his reveal that he was actually the villain, and that he wanted to destroy all life in the universe for his Lady Death, was executed to perfection. Usually when you have a two company crossover like this, it ends poorly, because the story is so shoddy. But Ron Marz(who had extensive writing runs on Green Lantern and Silver Surfer)put together a totally believable story that used all of the characters involved perfectly. Hal had a one track mind. The Surfer was his regular pensive, thoughtful self. Kyle doubted himself throughout and almost helped Thanos destroy the universe as a result before redeeming himself. And Thanos was his regular awesome self. This might just be the best Marvel/DC x-over comic I've read... So far.

Score: 9 1/2 out of 10.Thanos destroying Coast City while Hal looks on in horror is one of the best things I've seen in a while!

Retro-Review: Batman/Captain America #1

Review: First things first, this comic is a DC Elseworlds tale, which means this is a one-off story, and that it isn't in continuity for any of the characters. We start off in Gotham City in Jan. 1945 with Batman and Robin chasing after the Joker. The Joker manages to give the Dynamic Duo the slip, but upon searching the Joker's car, Bats finds some traces of plutonium. Meanwhile in Europe, Captain America and Bucky are called back to the States for some sort of top secret mission. As they are flying into Gotham, Cap and Bucky spot a plane being hijacked and Cap hops out of his plane to try to stop the hijacking. Things look bleak for Cap as he is nearly thrown from the plane thanks to the high winds, as well as a gunman shooting at him from aboard the plane. Luckily, Batman arrives in the Batplane and pulls Cap to safety, and the two heroes board the plane and trounce the hijackers. It seems that the hijackers took that plane on the orders of the Joker, because Robert Oppenheimer of the “Gotham Project” was on-board... If you can't see where this story is going by this point, you should turn in your comic book fan card right now! Cap and Bats say goodbye to each other and Cap heads to the Army Intelligence building where he is told by his higher ups that the Joker had been targeting items from the Gotham Project, and that they suspected Bruce Wayne was in cahoots with Joker since he had access to some sensitive information due to the fact that he was funding many Army projects. With that, Cap(in his civilian identity of Private Steve Rogers)is sent to “protect” Bruce Wayne, while secretly trying to discover whether or not Bruce was a traitor. After two uneventful days, Steve happens to catch the tale end of a conversation between Bruce and his ward Dick Grayson(Robin)in which they mention meeting the Joker, which leads to Steve believing that Bruce was indeed working with Joker. Later that night, Bruce slips out of Wayne Manor and heads to one of his office buildings, where he is confronted by Steve. The two fight and after stalemating each other, realize who the other man actually was. Now understanding why Bruce Wayne was interested in meeting the Joker, the two heroes head to the Batcave to share notes. While this is going on, the Joker hits an army convoy and steals an atomic bomb for his mystery benefactor, the Red Skull. Cap and Robin head to Commissioner Gordon to answer the Bat-signal, where they get news of the Joker's latest crime, while Batman and Bucky stay behind awaiting the Bat-computer as it figures out where the Joker was most likely hiding. After getting a hit from the computer, Bats and Bucky head to an abandoned warehouse where they are jumped and defeated by the Red Skull and his minions. The Skull puts them in a deathtrap and leaves to go meet up with the Joker in order to get the atomic bomb. Bats and Bucky manage to break free of the deathtrap, and rendezvous with Cap and Robin. The four heroes get on-board the Batplane and after Cap deduces that the Skull was probably planning on dropping the bomb on Washington DC, the heroes fly towards the nearest airfield. At the airfield, the Joker meets the Skull and hands over the bomb, but upon realizing the Skull was a Nazi, tries to renege on the deal. Huh, who knew the Joker was secretly a patriot... The Skull's men knock out the Joker, and the Skull loads the Joker and the bomb onto the plane before taking off. The Batplane manages to catch up to the Skull's aircraft and Bats and Cap get on-board while Bucky and Robin are forced to pull away. The heroes fight through a horde of Nazis, however they realize that the Skull had managed to lock himself in the bomb bay with the bomb, and has managed to jam the bomb door open. Bats and Cap try to get the plane over the Atlantic Ocean and away from the US, while the Skull decides to just drop the bomb wherever they were, figuring that even if it wasn't a direct hit on Washington, the fallout from the bomb would still wreak great havoc. Before the Skull can drop the bomb though, he is attacked by the Joker, buying the heroes enough time to get the plane's deadly payload well out into the Atlantic. The Joker and Skull fight each other and eventually fall out of the plane, along with the bomb, which detonates harmlessly in the ocean. With that, the heroes return to the mainland and wish each other well. This issue ends with an epilogue from 20 years later where Batman(now Dick Grayson)and Robin(Bruce Wayne Jr.)find the frozen body of Captain America and bring him back to life, much like what happened in the Marvel Universe.

Thoughts: All in all, I enjoyed reading this comic. There were a few things that bugged me, such as the way Cap, and especially Bucky, seemed to be kind of inferior to Bats and Robin, and the Joker's strange patriotism, but this story wasn't that bad. Once the “Gotham Project” and Oppenheimer were brought into the story, it became pretty clear what the Joker was trying to do, and who he was working for, but the story was engaging enough for me to have been able to enjoy the comic regardless. There were a bunch of nice little touches, like Cap meeting Commissioner Gordon and Batman and Bucky facing the Red Skull that made this a fun little read for a fan of both Cap(and Bucky)and Batman(and Robin)such as myself. The end kind of gave me a bit of a chuckle, with Dick Grayson serving as Batman, with Bruce Wayne's son serving as Robin... Hmm, where have I seen that before? Anyway, while not as good as the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer x-over, this was an enjoyable trip back to the Golden Age of Batman and Captain America.

Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.I'd really like to see a team-up between these two characters now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Batman: Orphans #2(of 2)

Overall: We start off with Bruce Wayne attacking that annoying reporter and her even more annoying cameraman because of the delayed action fear gas he inhaled last issue. Don't worry about the fear gas, since it leads to absolutely nothing... Anyway, trusty Alfred pulls Bruce away from the Annoying Duo, and tells him that he had inhaled fear gas, which leads to Bruce getting over it. From there, those interchangeable Orphan characters fool around, but are called away by Fake Batman, who wants them to do a mission or something. Bruce then goes to Arkham Asylum with Tim Drake where he questions a doctor who had worked with many of the missing Orphans. Oh, and this doctor, Dr. Nigaff, worked with Hugo Strange, which IS important later on in the story. While Bruce, Tim and Nigaff talk, the Annoying Duo hack into Nigaff's computer from a nearby office to see what he knew about the missing kids. Dick Grayson strolls over and sweet talks some of the information the Annoying Duo had learned before meeting up with Tim and Bruce outside to compare notes. Oh, and somewhere along the line, there's a story about a “Fed-Lex” package that has every villain in Gotham hunting for it. Merlyn manages to get a hold of the package, but is confronted by the Orphans, two detectives from the Gotham City Police Department, Firebug, Talon, some random gang members and the Riddler... Man is this making my head hurt... In the end, the Orphan kids mainly get squashed, but are saved by the timely arrival of Batman, Nightwing and Robin. One of the Orphans betrays the others(don't ask me why)and escapes with the package while Bats and company mop up the riffraff. Dr. Nigaff sneaks away to an abandoned underground lair, and is followed by the Annoying Duo, while Bats is told by a suddenly helpful Merlyn that he had placed a bug on the package. Merlyn then proceeds to GIVE Bats the tracer for the bug, because that's what Talia Al Ghul would have wanted or something... Good old Merlyn. I guess... Anyway, Fake Batman confronts the Annoying Duo and locks them up or something, while the Orphan's Traitor returns to the Orphan's base with the package, and naturally betrays Fake Batman. The Orphan's Traitor is then confronted by two of the Orphans he betrayed back at the big battle from earlier... Now how the hell did they arrive at the base THAT quickly?! The female Orphan then kills the Orphan's Traitor by kissing him and sliding a razor blade from her mouth into his... Yes, really. She then dies a dramatic death, leaving one Orphan. The lone Orphan, Francisco, goes after Fake Batman, but Fake Batman manages to sneak away. By this point, Bats, Nightwing and Robin arrive on the scene and run around the base looking for... I don't know, the package, Fake Batman, the Annoying Duo, the Orphans and a partridge in a pear tree. They all split up and Francisco attacks Bats, thinking he was the Fake Batman. Francisco beats up Bats for a bit(because Bats wouldn't fight back), before Bats decides he's had enough of that and swings away... Why didn't he do that from the start? Fake Batman tries to run away, but literally runs into Nightwing and Robin, who unmask him as... Dr. Nigaff. Yeah, there's a shocking reveal. By this point, the two GCPD detectives from earlier have rescued the Annoying Duo and are met by Nightwing, who has found the package somewhere along the line. Unfortunately, they are surrounded by pretty much EVERY Gotham City villain. D'oh! Meanwhile, Batman and Robin locate Francisco, who doesn't want to fight anymore and just wants this whole ordeal to end... Sort of like me... As for the big, climatic battle between Nightwing, the two detectives and the Annoying Duo against the entirety of the Gotham Underworld, Nightwing reaches in the package and pull out... Well, we never find out, but whatever it was must have been powerful enough to defeat/scare away ALL of the villains, because from there we skip ahead and discover that Bruce, Tim and Dick have rescued everybody, and that Francisco had gotten better. The end. Really, that was it!

After putting this comic down, I was really tempted to go the, “Stuff happened, the end.” route for this review... This comic/mini-series was THAT BAD! However I decided to do the LONG, drawn out review you just read/skimmed/skipped altogether as a warning to anybody out there who may have been tempted to give this story a read... It was bad. REALLY bad. It didn't make sense, the story was a mess, the dialogue went WAY too long at times(there were some pages that were literally FILLED with words, to the point where you couldn't make out the scene going on), and the Orphan characters, who were the stars here(I guess...)didn't leave me with any impression. Francisco was supposed to be the main Orphan, but until the end, I couldn't tell him apart from any of the other Orphans. And then there was the end... What the bloody hell did it mean?! The annoying reporter wrote a newspaper article at the end stating that(apparently)the package that EVERYBODY was after didn't contain anything, and that the villains all thought it had the Holy Grail in it. That's all well and good, except it doesn't explain why the villains didn't kill Nightwing, the Annoying Duo and the detectives... Nightwing opens the box, reveals it was empty and the villains... walk away I guess? Get beaten to death? Start dancing? Who knows! Plus the dialogue/scene on the last page made zero sense... Bruce is talking to Dick about how things ended and refers to Tim as “Tom”, which was the role Tim was playing at Arkham Asylum when they first met Dr. Nigaff, which led me to believe that maybe there really WAS a Tom character that I missed, because why else would Bruce call Tim “Tom” to Dick? Bruce then seems to imply that Tim WAS Tom all the time, which is what I figured. So Dick and Bruce are talking while Tim/Tom plays basketball with Francisco when all of a sudden, LITERALLY in the middle of Dick and Bruce's conversation, the scene shifts to the Annoying Duo, with Batman swinging past them overhead... This was definitely one of the worst things I've read all year. Hands down. Wow, this was a really negative post... Well, let's end it on a positive note! I liked the art...

Score: 1 out of 10.The best thing about this issue? Well there was a Young Justice poster in this scene...