Top Ten Best Comics of 2009

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Better late than never, eh? This is my list for the top ten stories of 2009! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.

1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).

2. These are stories that ended in 2009. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2009, they’re eligible.

3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Kirkman books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even indies on this list.

Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!

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Top 5 Best Comics of February 2010

With March half over, I think now’s a good time for this list, yes? I read 17 comics in February, and these were the best.

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Top 5 Best Comics of January 2010

I read 17 comics in January, and these were the best.

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Top 10 Artists Of The 00’s!

In such a great decade for comics, you always hear an awful lot of praise for the writers.  When you hear people talk about Watchmen, a great deal of attention is paid to Alan Moore; when you hear people talk about Wanted, lovers and haters all talk about Mark Millar.  But a comic book is primarily a visual medium, and a talented artist can make a so-so book better, a good book great… or a great book only average.  Witness the art problems that plagued, for example, Grant Morrison’s ground-breaking run on New X-Men.

But this decade had its fair number of stars, art-wise, artists whose style and intensity nearly defined the titles they worked on.  These are our picks for the Top 10 interior artists of the 2000’s.

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Top 5 Best Comics of September 2009

Boring introduction! I read 21 comics in September, and these were the best.

 

5. Green Lantern #46

Hey, Green Lantern is great again! We know Mahnke’s art is going to blow our minds, but Johns pulled his weight too, delivering the gore he’s so fond of. There was a lot of progression here, featuring a fight that’s been brewing for a long time. Sinestro and Mongul’s conclusion is not only drawn well, Johns gives each baddie a fun monologue, dripping with a bit of truth. Indeed, for a brief time, Johns made me believe that Mongul could actually win. Loud, bloody, and just the kind of cosmic fun that Johns wants you to have.

4. Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant Size

It all ends. It was the worth the wait, but for Millar’s part of it, this issue played out exactly how you’d expect, which would’ve been a dull experience, except for the reason we’re all here: Steve McNiven. Just about every panel in here is iconic, ready to be framed on your wall. No matter what silly cliché Millar wrote, McNiven made it sing. However, the writing’s not all bad. This issue pays great tribute to Wolverine’s character as a whole, blending his Western and Eastern ways together. So, even on that corny, Lone Wolf & Cub-inspired last page, I smiled.

3. Detective Comics #857

Another conclusion, what can I say? Those are usually great issues. Alright, Rucka’s opening Batwoman arc hasn’t had as much substance as I’d like, but something we can all agree on is the talent of Williams. We haven’t seen Kate’s origin yet, but she’s already a fully-developed character, mostly due to Williams himself. That continues here, of course, as Williams gets to render some dazzling stunts, with Kate jumping from plane to plane, kicking her way to Alice. Speaking of Alice, this issue delivers a twist with her that I didn’t see coming at all, and it was telegraphed, even on the cover. The twist works, not only to shock us, but as a brilliant window into Kate’s past.

Seventh Soldier’s Review

2. Dark Reign: The List – X-Men

I read most of these specials, and this is probably the only one that’s actually a one-shot. Fraction doesn’t conform. This isn’t about political nonsense or the status quo. Fraction gives us the simple tale of revenge, and it works very well. A great deal of that credit goes to Alan Davis. He makes this absurd, spandex-clad medium lyrical. Consider the scene at the end, with Namor, Osborn, and the Sentry. In Davis’ hands, this simple scene becomes a grand confrontation between legends. Superman and Luthor could easily replace Namor and Osborn, and Sentry’s inclusion is the icing on the cake.

1. Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus

I, like many of you, wasn’t very impressed with this crossover. Fraction’s characterizations were still superb, but the plot seemed to contain nothing but buildup. Well, that all culminated with Exodus, and what a culmination. The epic battle between teams is there, with almost every character utilized. Deals with the devil, an old New Avengers callback, and a new status quo makes this the most explosive comic of the month, and the best too.

For more comic goodness, go here.

Long Beach Comic Con 2009!

Yes, I was there at the first Long Beach con. I thought I’d share my adventures with all of you, and by adventures, I mean pretty sketches.

Amanda Conner’s Supergirl!

I’m going to get a detailed one someday, but these quickies are great too.

Darick Robertson’s Frenchie and Female!

It’s hard to tell in the photo, but this piece is huge.

David Finch’s Catwoman! 

David modeled this after Jim Lee’s art. So, to have Scott Williams ink it is perfect.

Doug Mahnke’s Frankenstein!

Doug. Mahnke. Frankenstein. ‘Nuff said!

Geoff Johns’ Hal Jordan!

I should’ve had him write in the word balloon: “I am so kewl!”

J. Scott Campbell’s Mary Jane!

Finally, after years of waiting.

Micah Gunnell’s Black Cat!

Always a pleasure to talk to this guy, and the sketch aint bad either!

Philip Tan’s Scarlet!

Man, that’s ugly. In a good way.

Simone Bianchi’s Shining Knight!

Two soldiers down, five to go.

Notable signed items?

Ennis’ second out-of-print Punisher hardcover!

Skull, courtesy of Darick Robertson. Mini-Frank, rendered by Jimmy Palmiotti. And that third signature belongs to big Frank himself, Thomas Jane.

The Pro, in oversized out-of-print hardcover style!

Signed by the entire art team: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Paul Mounts. This just demanded a Pro sketch, and Amanda was kind enough to deliver.

That’s all, folks. I had a blast, and I hope it’s even better next year.

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Final Crisis #7 – Spoilers!

Final Crisis #7 (of 7)

(*****)

Cover: I know a lot of you bought the Jones covers. For those who did, check the other covers out: one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. Notice something? They get darker as they go along. It’s a nice Apocalypse Now trick. Cool, huh?

Pages 1-3: Anyone else get that Obama vibe? I’m sure that was intentional, especially with that Alex Ross thing. What’s funny is that Obama actually outsold Final Crisis #6. Can Morrison see the future?

Pages 4-5: Ok, if there was anyone who didn’t read Superman Beyond, GO READ SUPERMAN BEYOND! It’s great. It also features Mahnke art (Only it looks a lot better. This issue was VERY rushed and he had an army of inkers and colorists working with him) and it’s a BIG part of Final Crisis. Seriously, you will be almost lost without the knowledge of Superman Beyond. For those who did read it, remember all those Supermen Zillo Valla mentioned in the second issue? Some (All maybe?) appear here. Oh and Mahnke drawing Frankenstein again, total fanboy moment!

Pages 6-7: So this Lois scene is in the future. What do we see? Batman’s cowl (Shouldn’t someone be battling for that?) and he’s dead. Wonder Woman’s Furie plague thingy, so I guess she’s ok. Hawkman’s helmet, oh no, will something happen to Hawkman?! Lois sends a story (What Superman Beyond and now Final Crisis has been about) somewhere in a Superman rocket. That’s pretty cool. I wonder where that will end up. It’s been a while, but is this the same robotic JLA from that Classified Morrison story? I like how Luthor has an Anti-Superman ray.

Pages 8-9:“You turned your back and I wrecked your world.” Ooo, sick burn! That’s what you get for being selfish in issue #3, Superman! Punch him Superman! Rip out his…oh that’s Turpin, damn! “How can you hurt a foe made of people?” Darkseid is an evil bastard!

Pages 10-12: The Flashes are back, Darkseid! Here comes death! So this is when the time bullet is fired. Death comes to Darkseid. It appears to be normal Turpin here. Although “In all of us” is the last thing Orion said to Turpin. Could the son be reborn in the father? Arthur Curry is back and kicking ass as well. This is Morrison basically handing new stories to writers if they want it.

Pages 13-14: Superman is building the Miracle Machine (The culmination of the technology theme) we saw last issue with the help of others including the humorously disgruntled Luthor. Page 14 is a tip of the hat to Rucka. This is a reference to FC: Resist. The Black Gambit is failing. Rucka has something to work with including the Renee Montoya Global Peace Agent we saw on page 4.

Pages 15-16: Ollie and Dinah floating in space is awesome. Lord Eye is screwing things up of course. Carter and Kendra get the operatic lovers treatment. The Super Young Team and crew Boom away thanks to Sonny Sumo!

Pages 17-18: Yay! They all made it to Earth-51 and Kamandi is there too! Super Young Team, Shilo, Sonny and Kamandi is another story waiting to be told. Poor Overman, Morrison just had to get a Superman holding his dead cousin into this story. So Darkseid’s done, but what about the furies. And what about Luthor and an army of mind-controlled villains?

Pages 19-21: Yes, Frankenstein riding a big dog decapitating enemies and subduing Wonder Woman is very cool. The Luthor/Superman team-up where Lex takes all the credit is also sweet. Putting citizens in the “fridge” in the future is very…zany? Wonder Woman finally has a nice moment in this series. Read that Morrison interview at the bottom. He has some interesting things to say about this.

Pages 22-23: Even though he has no psychical body, Darkseid (Bastard!) continues to drag Earth down towards Mandrakk. Superman beats Darkseid with his voice. Again, you’re either on board with the creativity or you’re not. The lone Superman toils away on the Miracle Machine when suddenly…

Pages 24-25: Aaahhh! It’s Mandrakk! Again, go read Superman Beyond! He looks very creepy here, but Ultraman…not so much. But that bastard does have Kara. Why must the Crisis’s always pick on Supergirl? Hey, another tip to Rucka! Mandrakk has been snacking on the Spectre and Radiant. Actually, since Mandrakk feeds on stories, does this mean FC: Revelations was meaningless? It certainly didn’t have much to do with this book. Ha Ha! Mandrakk is screwed! The Miracle Machine works! The Green Lanterns can come in.

Pages 26-27: An Army of Supermen!!! Evil is toast! Oh and they’re apparently singing! “Let the sun shine in!” 

Pages 28-29: The heroes gather to thwart evil. And what a special gathering it is. Nix Uotan in his new badass glory, the Supermen, the GLs, the “Forever People of the 5th World” (Super Young Team) and three awesome animals that Mandrakk failed to eat. Man is that Rabbit hilarious! Those vampires get spiked!

Pages 30-31: I like the cowl, pyramid, and feather panels. To symbolize those we’ve lost (Except the Martian, but I guess he’ll be a Black Lantern). “Earth Endures. It’s as if we don’t know what else to do.” Aww, that’s nice to read in these dark times. It looks like the heroes are pulling (See the chains?) Earth out of oblivion. The Flashes are back and Nix Uotan wants to sever contact with our world.

Pages: 32-33: The New Gods are back! At least the New Genesis ones (Even Highfather). It almost appears they’re going to Earth-51 along with the new Forever People and even Kamandi I believe. All the Kirby characters alive and well. Kamandi even has a new tiger tribe. It also appears that this was the Final Crisis for the Monitors. They are gone now.

Pages 34-36: The Monitors end with the young lovers. Superman wished for a happy ending with the Miracle Machine. But it looks as though Nix is back on Earth. Hopefully he and Weeja can reunite. And so our tale ends the way it began. With the first boy, Anthro, who is now an old man. He was the original superhero and storyteller and as he dies, we see something else. The rocket sent in the beginning of the issue has landed. A utility belt lies gently on Anthro.

Page 37: Ah, this page makes me all warm and fuzzy. Batman is marking a bat on the wall.

For a very good reason, read Morrison’s interview.

Well, that’s it folks. I’ve already expressed what I love about Final Crisis. Morrison mentions more in that interview. It’ll be nice to not have to write these big articles anymore, but I had fun. Hopefully you did too. Final Crisis had some flaws (Mostly editorial), but it was the most dense, unique, and enthralling event I’ve ever read. It challenged the reader. You actually had to use your imagination. The birth of new characters, the death of old. The complete and utter shattering of current writing techniques. This series would have been forty issues long if Bendis had written it. Final Crisis is not for everyone, but I think the ones it was for, had a hell of a good time reading it. I know I did.

Review: Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2

Final Crisis Superman Beyond #2 (of 2)

(*****)

Wow! This issue just blew me away. I find it interesting that so many people hate this comic because they “don’t get it”. Whereas others like me, love it. I can understand the complaints a little. Superman Beyond is a lot to take in. Heck, even the visuals (Does anyone else’s vision get weird after wearing the 3D glasses?) can be jarring. But I for one adore this book.

First off, just look at that art. It’s truly stunning. Mahnke produces the best work of his career. Morrison challenges him for sure, but he hits the right notes every step of the way. In a fantastic voyage (It even has a yellow submarine) such as this, the art is crucial. Mahnke captures both the epic (And boy are they epic) battles and the tender scenes beautifully. Even the 3D works better here. I read the 2D art with my normal vision and the 3D art with my funky (Can they seriously change the design of these things already) glasses. In the first issue, I had to constantly switch between the two, but here the first several pages were normal, then 3D, and then back to normal for the conclusion. It was more of a pleasant read and damn those 3D pages were awesome!

As for the story itself, it’s just packed with goodies. Some of the more subtle stuff (Although I don’t think it’s that subtle sorry) may be missed. But I would think that if nothing else this is a psychedelic journey about the original superhero trying to save his dying wife. This is the spiritual sequel to All Star Superman. Both portray Superman as the quintessential hero in new ways that don’t come off as cheesy.

Now, I’ll try to delve beneath the surface without spoiling anything. I love that the citizens of Limbo (Where forgotten characters go to rot. A concept that’s not only awesome, but also fits the book’s theme) fight the “yet to be”. I love that Morrison explains why these Supermen were chosen. Morrison acknowledges all the Supermen (Majestic, Icon, etc.) and even here he uses Captain Adam (Based on Captain Atom from Charlton Comics) and Captain Marvel (From Fawcett Comics). Hell, even Overman (The German word for Superman) comes from Friedrich Nietzsche’s original influence on Superman. I love the fact that Superman Beyond is a study of the story itself. It’s all about the pros and cons that stories bring to our society. I love that the villains are Vampire Gods. Vampires and Gods are two fictional (If God doesn’t exist. Just think of the Roman Gods. Please don’t hate me) creations that will outlast us all, much like Superman. And finally, I absolutely love the last page of this comic. Seriously, it’s the best last page in recent memory.

Review: Final Crisis #6 – Spoilers!

Large Cover of Final Crisis #6 of 7

(*****)

I’m exhausted. My brain is mush. Yet I must press on because I love this book so much. It’s killing me.

Page 1: Why are Superman and Brainiac 5 here? Last time we saw Supes he was trapped in Limbo and Brainiac 5 was…well, the last Legion of 3 Worlds came out months ago. Who can remember? So, I guess this takes place after those two books?

Pages 2-3: Superman is “fading”. Probably because of that “time breaks down” nonsense Brainy was talking about. You’ll find a lot of techno-babble in this issue. I like Renee Montoya’s line later, “Enough of this sensory %$%@$ overload”. Anyway, Brainiac introduces the Miracle Machine. You like awesome technology right? Hmm, you can only think positive thoughts, who can do that better than the “Big Blue Boy Scout”?

Pages 4-5: Look out! Here come the baddies! Tattooed Man is an honorary JLA member? They’re really going for the old “Anyone can join the Justice League” maxim. I wonder how long any of this will last. Oh wait, it’s Morrison. All his continuity gets washed away once he’s gone.

Pages 6-7: Catfight! The Supergirl vs. Desaad Marvel fight continues! Beautiful action and good banter, let’s move on.

Pages 8-9: Hopefully Black Adam fans can calm down now. Yes he got hit hard last issue, but his power is fading and Desaad Marvel is very powerful. Oh and Mary is Desaad, it’s official.

Pages 10-11: The Tawky Tawny vs. Tigerbak fight continues! Desaad uses innocent people to attack Supergirl. That bastard! He’s so evil!

Pages 12-13: Whoa! Tawny guts Kalibak! Freddie and Mary go back to kids thanks to magic. Darkseid can’t control everything! Mary says, “I can never say it again”. Again, how long will this last?

Pages 14-15: Tawny gets respect! It’s the moment you never knew you wanted to see! Shilo explains more about that face paint. Mr. Terrific mentions “Black Gambit”. Will those OMACs ever come? Uh, if you’re not familiar with that reference, it’s just more evidence that the tie-ins have meant nothing. Unless of course reality is just really messed up. Hey, that’s a good excuse.

Pages 16-17: Ooh! A pretty New Furies splash! But that is nothing compared to that Super Young Team dialog. “Most of our powers are cosmetic!” and “I have the greatest power of all, Mister Miracle. I am so rich I can do anything” are pure genius. But there’s also the young love! So much awesome, I would be very happy with a Morrison Super Young Team mini.

Pages 18-19: Hero against hero, the soul mate and the person that showed a villain the light. This comic has everything! I’m still curious about Tattooed Man’s new tattoo.

Page 20: The Atoms together, more great stuff. “And here, our mystics attempt to contact the Spectre in the afterworlds”, but isn’t the Spectre Vandal “Cain” Savage’s slave?And Renee Montoya is in New York or something but she’s here too and…

Page 21: This is that “sensory overload” Montoya line I was talking about. Lord Eye, this is the whole Black Gambit business? Hmm it sounds like they’re preparing another Earth in case this one dies. I hope thatdoesn’t backfire.

Pages 22-23: I love that advertisement! You know, the one for the issue I’m reading. Way to go DC! Whoa! Calculator gets lynched! The villains unite to say “Fuck you aliens!” which is totally Luthor. Libra “dies”, but even Sivana says, “And that’s a classic “We haven’t heard the last of him!” if I ever saw one”. So, Libra will be back?

Pages 24-25: Did you forget about the Flash family? Will they stop Darkseid (If he hasn’t been stopped by the end of this issue)? Will Barry outrun the Black Racer (Barry has a new mini coming up so I’d guess yes)?

Pages 26-27: Batman pops up like a daisy! Ok, let’s just consider Batman #682-683 part of this issue. That’s where he broke free and got that nifty gun. Oh, so Darkseid shot Orion. Of course! Ah, but Orion caused Darkseid’s fall. “Wounded you beyond repair”, it sounds like it, right? Batman has the time bullet with him? That’s so Batman, but he wouldn’t use a gun would he? Hey that bullet looks familiar. Remember that weird thing from the last page of Final Crisis #2? I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was the time bullet. Anyway, Batman shoots Darkseid! Yay! Batman will be ok, right? He won’t get vaporized by Omega Beams like he was in JLA: Rock of Ages will he?

Pages 28-29: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Batman!!!! They took my buddy away, damn it! At least he got a two-page death that looks great (In a book with more artists than Batman: Black & White). I’ll talk more about this “death” later.

Pages 30-31: Is that Lois in the upper-left panel? Again, what’s up with that? The Hawkman/Hawkgirl scene may seem a bit random, but it continues the rebirth theme. I’ll talk more about that later. The GLs aren’t here yet. Metron is still around. Nix Uotan’s new look “inaugurates the Fifth World”. “These new humans face a greater menace than Darkseid if they breach the Bleed Wall.” Ah crap, that’s what this whole Black Gambit stuff is doing isn’t it? I knew it would backfire! Oh well, bring on Mandrakk (The Evil Monitor from Superman Beyond)!

Pages 32-33: Superman is blowing stuff up. Because of Batman I would guess. I wonder what he wished for. A lifetime supply of Popeyes Chicken? Or maybe it was to get back from wherever he was (The future?) and perhaps Lois’ good health as well.

Page 34: Ah, this image (From Doug Mahnke I believe. His name isn’t on the cover even though two inkers are) brings the Crisis trilogy full circle. Superman likes to hold cadavers.

And now for some more words. I want to talk about Batman’s death. I’m going to avoid the whole “This isn’t Morrison’s vision” and “Fuck Dan DiDio” stuff. I’ve covered that in my other Final Crisis reviews (You can read those, issue two, three, four, and five).

Again, I’m really tired so this won’t be as long as I planned (Which is good for you). Supposedly, Morrison’s original idea for this series was for the Magnificent Seven to all die and become New Gods. Do you remember those “Heroes Die, But Legends Live Forever” posters? Well that was the idea. Get the old guard out of the way (But still in the DCU) and make way for the kids. That idea was immediately shot down with the classic “Not the big three!” answer. Anyway the point is resurrection was on Morrison’s mind. Do you remember Superman’s Martian Manhunter eulogy in Final Crisis #2 and that hilarious “And pray for a resurrection” line? Well, Morrison talked about it on Newsarama (See it here) and said “This line foreshadows a major theme which will be played out as this series progresses”. He goes on to say “Now that I think about it, the whole story revolves around Superman’s (Pray for a resurrection) line”. So this may have been Morrison’s actual plan. We all know Batman will be back. Morrison certainly knows that as well. In fact, I believe his recent Batman run was all about how cool Bruce is and that no one could ever replace him. Heck, Batman could even be back in Final Crisis #7, but I doubt it. DiDio want his money. So we’ll go through all the Battle for the Cowl nonsense and filler crap. I just hope Final Crisis isn’t too compromised and that Grant (And maybe even Frank freaking Quitely) will be back on Batman soon.

Just for the hell of it, here’s what Grant Morrison thinks about this issue. Enjoy!

Bruce Castle Presents: Crisis Tie-Ins Just Got More Final

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3-D #1 (*****)

I’ve been avoiding this review. I’ve only read it twice and that’s not nearly enough to properly comprehend everything contained in this issue. I would have liked to have written up a long in-depth analysis review, but instead I’ll just write a few kind words. Hopefully, either my words or somebody else’s will convince you to pick this up. Yes, this story is very complex and it does demand quite a bit from the reader. However, I still feel that it can be enjoyed on a primitive level and can actually be fun at times. With most Grant Morrison stories, all of the attention, good or bad, is directed towards Morrison. His artists don’t always receive the accolades that they deserve. Doug Mahnke drew this book wonderfully. His work alone is worth the price of admission. This book is truly sublime.

SPECIAL FEATURE!!!!

For those who can’t understand German, I’ll provide the translations for free! Well, what I will ask is that if you didn’t read this issue, please go pick it up! Then you can get your translations here too! Oh and when I list page numbers, I don’t count advertisements!

Page #9- “We will have to accept losses! This machine will immediately explode!”

Page #17- (This is obvious but..) “Great Krypton!”

Page #18- “All these universes in different frequencies vibrate”

Page #20- “What is it? I can not remember why I do; all the technology is for the dog.”

Oh and Overman is German for Superman.

As an added bonus, here is the Nazi Supergirl translation in Final Crisis #3:

Page #4- “I…I…I am…Supergirl…No. Is the…the sky bleeding? The (There are typos here and I think this is one of them. It says h^lle in the issue, the closest I can get is..) hall…is…is here

So there you go. I’m sure the translations aren’t perfect, but you can get the general idea. Plus, the text wasn’t perfect either. I hope that helps!

DC Universe Last Will And Testament #1 (Cover A)

DC Universe: Last Will and Testament (****)

Yep, this is about Geo-Force. Does anyone really care about Geo-Force? Not that I’m aware of, but it does have Deathstroke and he’s cool. This is written by Brad Meltzer. If you like his stuff, then you’ll probably like this. If you don’t like his stuff, then you can probably pass. However, before you do, there are a few things to consider. I’m not a big fan of Meltzer, but I did like most of Identity Crisis.  This was marketed as a FC tie-in (even though it doesn’t have the tag). It was supposed to be the night before the end of Final Crisis #3. It isn’t. In fact, you could read this without reading FC and still enjoy it which is cool. The only way this relates to FC is that this is a kind of sequel to Identity Crisis (and FC is kind of a sequel to Identity Crisis), and we see DC characters dreading something bad about to happen. The story is basically Geo-Force wanting revenge wrapped in lots of little character moments. I’m happy to report that the aforementioned character moments are beautifully rendered by the legendary Joe Kubert. I especially love his homage to the cover of Batman #1. The Geo-Force story is drawn by Adam Kubert. It’s nice to see a father-son duo handling the art chores. In addition to all of this, we get a big fight between Geo-Force and Deathstroke. This is really what impressed me the most because it was my kind of fight. It’s just a knock-down-drag-out fight with lots of blood. This was a very dark outing, but it ended on a surprisingly happy note. I feel this comic is good enough for even the people that dislike Meltzer to enjoy it.

Final Crisis Rogues Revenge #2 (of 3) (Cover A)

Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #2 (*****)

I liked the last issue, but things have improved tremendously since last time. Everything in here really hit the mark. Is there more Final Crisis stuff in here? Yes. Can you still enjoy this without reading Final Crisis? Yes. Do these C-List (in the wrong hands) villains seem totally badass? Yes. Are there pleasing twists and turns? Yes. Is this well-written? Yes. Does this contain pretty art? Yes. As you can tell, I was really impressed. If you’re looking for a read filled with quality action or an awesome villain book you really need to pick this up!

Spoiler Review: Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1

The art was perfection (really wish i could have scanned this baby). Okay, I’m not quite sure how else to review this book, so I’ll just make a list.

Things I know or think I know after reading Final Crisis: Superman Beyond:

• Sometime next issue, Superman dons “Cosmic Armor” and fights what I can only assume is the “Echo of Midnight”.
• Zillo Vallo, the female Monitor that recruits Superman invented the “Chrono Paralyzer” that is keeping Lois Lane alive.
• “Ultramenstruum” is the proper name for the “Bleed”.
• The Bleed is the arteries between the universes… could this be why the skies always turn red during a Crisis, because the Multiverse is bleeding?
• The Bleed “medicine” promised to Superman has the power to heal or annihilate.
• Superman’s comrades consist of alternate versions of himself: The Nazi Overman from Earth 10 (he’s looking for his cousin, the Nazi Supergirl from Final Crisis #3), Ultraman from the Anti-Matter Universe, Captain Marvel from Earth-5, and the “Quantum Superman” from Earth-4 (this is obviously a reference to Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen).
• The Carrier the Supermen are piloting through the Bleed looks like a Yellow Submarine.
• The Carrier from Authority appears prominently, with no reference made to it, in one of the “Multiverse” panels.
• Earth-51 is referred to as the “Graveyard Universe” where no life exists. Did this happen in Countdown?
• Zillo Vallo tells Overman that she needs blood to survive, and at first, he gives his blood freely. Later, when this is revealed to Superman, it appears that Zillo Vallo has drained Overman dry. She’s some kind of vampire, what does this mean? How does this tie into the Bleed?
• Apparently, if you come into contact with a version of yourself from another world, you both spontaneously explode. Where was this established in the DC Universe?
• We aren’t supposed to remember any of the characters in Limbo because that is the nature of Limbo. Interesting…
• Anyone speak German? What the hell is Overman saying on Page 20, Panel 2?
• Grant Morrison reveals to Superman the nature of his existence… which I doubt he can understand at this point… and that nature is this: Story continuity is the fatal flaw of creation. Um, wow. Shit just got weird… will Final Crisis end with Superman shaking hands with Grant Morrison? meeting Shuster and Siegel?
• …are we the “Conscious Living Void”described by The Book, or the descendants of that Void? Does that make us “The Monitors”?
• The “Superman” idea, the archetypal superhero, is a contagion that spreads throughout the Multiverse, infecting everything with the concept of “story” and “hero”.
• Upon seeing the concept of Superman, one of the Monitors says, “It can only be a weapon. A doomsday machine engineered by genius to defend us against some ultimate enemy.” What I think he’s talking about here, is the idea that stories serve as the instruction manuals for a civilization. Stories help society understand itself and its place in creation, and stories also act as a defense against oblivion.
• While trapped in Limbo, Billy Batson forgets his magic word. Perhaps it’s already too late; perhaps they’ve stayed too long.
• The Mandrakk is the Ultimate Evil, it controls the Evil in all its forms throughout the Multiverse, even Darkseid.
• At the end of the issue, Ultraman, holding the book that “contains every book possible”, declares, “Evil wins in the end!”

Whoa…

There’s so much more going on here, but my brain is too small and exhausted to handle it all tonight. I look forward to anyone else’s comments on the subject of Superman Beyond, I’m anxious to figure out this little mystery since, more than any of the other tie-ins, the outcome of this mini will surely play a pivotal role in the outcome of Final Crisis.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #36 – OMG IT’S COMIC-CON WEEK!!!

–which means, Billy is gonna be too busy enjoying the convention in San Diego to bother posting a new “Origin Stories” or “Planetary Series Review” this week, in fact, he’s almost too busy to write this Roundup! Not really, although UPS sure was cutting it close this time (stupid UPS always rescheduling my deliveries). Anyway, I got this, and then a Spoiler Review planned for tomorrow and then… I’ll see you again on Monday!

Action Comics #867 (*****)

 

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

  

THE ENTIRE ARC SHOULD BE FILLED WITH STUFF EXACTLY LIKE THIS.

Final Crisis: Requiem #1 (**)

The art is amazing, the story, not so much. First, let me explain that I’m not even looking at this as an FC tie-in, despite the cover treatment and what Dan Didio would have us believe. I think the only fair way to review this book is to judge it on its own merits since if we take into account the events of Final Crisis, this book is almost completely contradicted. Like I said, the art was phenomenal. LOVED IT. The story, on the other hand, was wordy and then boring as all hell. This book is really split into two chapters. The first chapter is corny/cheesy and borders on self-indulgent fan-fiction. The series of panels detailing the Martian Manhunter’s heroic efforts to thwart his death by manipulating the minds of the super-villains was silly and reeked of desperation on the writer’s part. “Oh man! How can I make Manhunter as cool as possible and satisfy the whiners?” Overwritten, overstated, overdone… my steak is burnt! If you can get past all that, and oh boy does the art help, you move into “Chapter 2” wherein the entire history of the Manhunter is read aloud by his closest friends. Um, is this what I paid for? An illustrated Wikipedia entry? No thanks. The only part of the book I liked came right at the end, what a surprise, when Batman places the choco on the Manhunter’s casket. It was an authentic moment in a book filled with posturing and simulated displays of grief. It made me smile. The rest of the book made me cringe.

The Walking Dead #50 (*****)

Five stars for Walking Dead? I must be losing my mind! Okay, allow me to ramble… so, this did not read like an issue 50, but I really, really liked it. Here’s why: Rick’s son Carl is finally, finally, finally a REAL boy! He’s got character! He’s interesting! All of a sudden! Out of the blue! But wait, not really. Kirkman’s been driving toward this all year. All that prison stuff, the carnage, death and destruction? It’s all been leading to this moment, the moment where Carl just loses his shit. Despite his gross lack of “character” talent, Kirkman manages to write a solid character piece. I know. You disagree. You think Kirkman’s strength has always been his character stuff. Well… you are wrong. His character writing has always been the weakest part of his writing. See Ultimate X-Men and previous issues of Walking Dead for ample examples. It’s in plot and storytelling that he truly excels. See final arc of Ultimate X-Men and previous issues of Walking Dead for ample examples. So, to me, this issue shows great promise for the rest of this series, or at least the next couple of issues. Kirkman has Carl react to the recent slaughter of his family in a very real/visceral/believable/relatable way. All the things that Carl expresses in this issue feels like what a kid in the real world would express if put in the exact same position. I love that Carl finally voices his doubts about his father. He doesn’t trust his father to protect him anymore. Hell, the guy’s missing a hand! And as Carl reflects, his father couldn’t protect his mother, his sister or the rest of the group since, you know, most of them are all dead now. I feel like Kirkman sat down with this script and really wrestled it into something powerful, something touching. I can imagine him agonizing over every line Carl utters, trying to figure out the best, least corny way to get across the feeling of total loss that the boy is experiencing. I loved it. It didn’t feel like an issue 50, but I still loved it. Bravo, Kirkman, but don’t get lazy. Don’t fall back into old habits. No more throwaway “hey-how-are-you’s” or runaway expository monologues. Write good dialogue and build good characters. Build on the fresh start you’ve carved out for yourself. Build the epic zombie story of awesome that you’ve always dreamed of. If you can do that, I can guarantee you at least one loyal reader for the next 50.

Oh, and not that I cared one way or the other, but the good men at DCBS thought enough of my massive ordering skills to toss me a copy of the Erik Larsen variant cover. Thanks, guys.

Quick Hits:
• Buffy the Vampire Slayer #16 (***): And then Joss Whedon returned and the book took a serious nose-dive in quality. Sad, sad times. I’m really excited about this “Fray” crossover, but after the awesomeness that was the Drew Goddard arc, the first part of this story left me cold. Like a dead body, or a recently turned suck-head. Yeah. Heh.
Captain America: White #0 (***): I disagree with Bruce Castle’s review of this book. I thought the story provided was adequate and the extra pages, Cap sketches and an interview with the creators, were more than satisfactory. But, I’m the biggest Cap fan I know so I may be biased.
Mighty Avengers #16 (***): This was fine, not the best SI tie-in, but fine. I have no idea what Bruce Castle was bitching about. Elektra doesn’t look old. There isn’t much dialogue, but hell, Elektra doesn’t normally say much, so, what the hell did you expect?
Ultimate Origins #2 (***): Um, it was okay? Nothing truly memorable here, but I do think it’s one of the best retelling of the Captain America origin ever written, if that counts for anything.
Young Liars #5 (*****): Um, Danny gets his dick sliced off?? NUFF SAID!!!

Bruce Castle Presents: Secret Invasion Tie-Ins vs. Final Crisis Tie-Ins!

4 stars = Stop reading review and go buy now!!!!
3 and a half stars = Great issue and make room on your trade shelf someday soon
3 stars = Recommended and maybe even trade worthy
2 and a half stars = Recommended
2 stars= Not the best, not the worst, not recommended
1 and a half star = Terrible issue and vocalize your disgust at your next social event
1 star = Awful awful awful and you may want to consider dropping this title
0 stars = Next con you attend where the writer and/or artist are present you should throw this issue in their face

Mighty Avengers #16– Sigh. And so we get another SI filler issue. Again, I’m still finding these quite tedious. Oh, and something that heightens that feeling is these damn homage covers. They started doing these with the Marvel Zombie covers and then continued with SI. They were cool for the Marvel Zombie mini-series and that’s it! Once we got to the 20th printing of that hardcover and then now with the Skrulls, these covers are just plain crappy now! Oh well, I doubt this will change by the end of the event so yay I have four more months of this to look forward to! But I digress. This issue is about what happened to Elektra. Despite my earlier ranting, there was a lot to enjoy about this issue and I’m sure a lot of you will love it. This is coming from a DD fan so liking an Elektra story means something. However, this is a picture heavy book from the usually wordy Bendis. Unfortunately, when you have a story that depends so much on the art, if the art is bad the issue will probably be bad as well which is what we get here. Sadly, I found Khoi Pham’s art horrendous. His Elektra looks like an old woman! From the story alone this issue is pretty good, but because there are so many wordless pages, the shoddy art detracts from the story.

2 stars

X-Factor #33– Does anyone still remember when this was a top tier book? The characters were great, the stories were great. The art was unconventional but fit the story perfectly. Why has this book declined so much after Messiah Complex? I’m almost to the point of dropping this book, but then I remember the characters I fell in love with and I’m still interested in their story. So please Peter David, write better! This issue is a SI tie-in, but there isn’t much about Skrulls in here. We get to see a Skrull reveal which was a bit predictable but still cool, but that’s it. The rest of the book is just like a normal X-Factor book. Also, the Skrull in this issue doesn’t say much, but what it does say is very odd. For someone that writes dialogue so well, I don’t know why we get such weird lines from David. There are still some great moments in here, but that is overshadowed by the horrible art and a bit of bad writing. Oh, and this story is being continued in She-Hulk which is a book I don’t read. And sadly, I don’t care about this story enough to follow it into a new book.

1 and a half stars

Final Crisis Requiem #1 (Cover A)

Final Crisis Requiem-First off, I want to apologize for something. I recently said that I flipped through this issue and thought the art didn’t look very good. Well, after reading it, I feel that the art is pretty fantastic. However, I still feel that Mahnke got his reference pages mixed up and is drawing Impossible Man instead of Martian Manhunter, but the art was great. Sadly, that’s about the best thing I can say about this issue. I personally was appalled when I read it. It tries to ruin almost everything Grant Morrison was trying to say in Final Crisis. This is a retelling of what happened in that book and it pissed me off. This should have made me sentimental and left me remembering J’onn J’onzz fondly. Instead I left this issue blinded with rage. At first, I was going to recommend this issue if you treat it as a MM book instead of a FC book, but I don’t even think it works then. It doesn’t seem written well at all. I had an instinct to stay away from this book, but I heard so many positive things about it that I gave it a shot. I was sorely disappointed.

1 star

Final Crisis Rogues’ Revenge #1– Leave it to Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins to produce a decent tie-in. The team that told some of the best Flash stories reunite to bring us a new Rogues tale. The art is fantastic! I didn’t expect this to be so gritty but it is. The Rogues aren’t written as comic blunderers. They are written as tired old men that are still bad ass in their own way. They are villains with an unusual moral code and they are written extremely well. Unlike the aforementioned FC tie-in, this doesn’t screw with the main FC story. It is referenced and it seems a bit is spoiled. Perhaps issue 3 should have been out by now. It doesn’t seem like much of a tie-in yet, but it is still a great story on its own. There is plenty of set-up in this issue, but there is still a lot of action and cool moments with a cliffhanger that will leave you hungry for more!

3 and a half stars

P.S. For those keeping track, Final Crisis wins!

Bruce Castle Archives: Batman Under the Hood Vol 2

SPOILERS!!!

So this is the second trade from Winick and crew dealing with Jason Todd’s return. So you get an issue giving a flashback showing you who Jason Todd was. Batman understands now that it is Jason Todd he’s dealing with. He’s investigating his coffin and he determines that no one has ever been in it.

Red Hood is still haunting Black Mask. He even shoots a rocket at his office. Deathsroke says that he and his society can get rid of Red Hood for him.

So, when Red Hood next tries to screw with Black Mask’s men, Hyena, Captain Nazi, and Count Vertigo show up to kill him (Wow! The society sent their A-list!). Batman shows up and we get Red Hood and Batman teaming up to fight the bad ass villains, ok maybe not. They beat the baddies but Red Hood kills Captain Nazi getting Batman to scream “NOOO!”. I didn’t know that Batman and Captain Nazi were such good pals.

Black Mask kills his own men to get on the good side of Red Hood. What?! Oh it was just a trick. Black Mask and Red Hood get in a fight. Black Mask stabs Red Hood with his own dagger. Batman arrives just in time to see Red Hood die. Wow! They brought a character back from the dead after 17 years just to have Black Mask kill him?!

Oh good, it’s not Jason Todd under the mask. The real Jason is over at Joker’s pad. We see Jason Todd dealing with a very oddly written Joker. Batman deals with Black Mask in a very peaceful manner. Isn’t this the guy that tortured and ended up killing Stephanie Brown? I thought Batman would be a bit madder at him but oh well. The issue ends with Batman and Jason Todd watching as Chemo drops on Bludhaven. Oh no is Nightwing dead? “One son returns from the grave as another enters it”.

So they fight back to where Jason is keeping the Joker. Hey has anyone else noticed that Joker has been a whipping boy lately? He gets severely beaten in this a few times. He gets shot in the face in Grant Morrison’s run. Then he gets beaten and I think shot again later in Morrison’s run. What’s up with that? Anyway, so Jason Todd gives Batman the whole why didn’t you kill him thing. Batman of course brings up that it would be too easy. He even goes into this whole thing about how he thinks constantly about torturing Joker and slowly killing him and stuff. That is a bit too sadistic for a hero that the kids love isn’t it? The arc ends with little resolution. The place blows up with Batman, Joker, and Jason Todd in it and all we see is Batman yelling Jason. Hmm, that is kind of weak.

Also included with this issue is the annual that talks more about Jason. We get a few more flashbacks about Jason’s life. We then learn that the whole reason why Jason is back is because of Superboy-Prime. When he broke out of that place he was in it changed history. You then see Jason waking up in his coffin. Didn’t Batman say earlier that no one had been in the coffin? So Jason breaks out of the coffin that he was never in and wanders around for a while. He then gets picked up by Talia and later gets tossed in the Lazarus pit to jog his memory. So Jason figures out that Joker still hasn’t been killed and gets pissed. We then learn that it was really him in Hush but he switched with Clayface mid fight. So then the issue ends with the narrative saying make no mistake it is Jason Todd.

So first, I’m going to talk about characters returning from the dead. I’m not a big fan of it. It detracts from the story that they got killed in, there are already plenty of DC characters why do we need Jason Todd back, and also if characters keep coming back from the dead what’s the point of killing them? I personally liked A Death in the Family. I thought it was too bad fans voted Jason dead but at least we got a good story out of it and it also gave Batman something to haunt him. What was the point of bringing him back?

Now, if this story was written well, it may have answered my question. I’m not a big fan of Bucky coming back from the dead, but at least his return was written extremely well. Brubaker wrote that story so well that it started to actually make sense how he was back and why he was back. I read a quote from Judd Winick somewhere and he said that he didn’t care how the character came back, just what affect it would have on Batman. That’s fine for you Judd, but what about the rest of us? Personally I felt the reason for Jason coming back was extremely weak, who cares about the whole Superboy-Prime thing anyway?

The concept of why doesn’t Batman kill the Joker is an interesting one, but it could have been done much better and has been. Even if you forget about all the resurrection stuff, which is hard to do, I still don’t think this was a very good story. I’m not a big Judd Winick fan anyway and this again just seems like a lot of lazy writing. It seems like one day he just thought, hey I’ll bring Jason Todd back! And the next day he just through something together and handed it to DC. I wish Jason would have stayed dead and if he had to come back I wish he would have been brought back in a much better way.

1 and a half star

Foilball’s June Previews Order

100 BULLETS #94  JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #18
ACTION COMICS #868 KICK ASS #6 
AIR #1  KING SIZE SPIDER-MAN SUMMER SPECIAL
ALL STAR SUPERMAN #12 LAST DEFENDERS #6 
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #567 MARVEL 1985 #4 
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #568 MIGHTY AVENGERS #17
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #569 MOON KNIGHT #21 
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #1 MS MARVEL #30
ANNA MERCURY #5  NEW AVENGERS #44
ASTONISHING X-MEN #26 NIGHTWING #147 
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #16 NOVA #16
AVENGERS INVADERS #4  PROJECT SUPERPOWERS #7 
BATMAN #680 RIP PUNISHER #60 
BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #10 PUNISHER #61 
BIRDS OF PREY #121  PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #22
BLACK PANTHER #40 ROBIN #177
BOYS #21  RUNAWAYS 3 #1
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #17 SAVAGE DRAGON #139
CABLE #6 SECRET INVASION #5 
CAPTAIN AMERICA #41 SECRET INVASION FRONT LINE #2 
CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #4 SECRET INVASION INHUMANS #1 
CRIMINAL 2 #6  SECRET INVASION RUNAWAYS #3
CROSSED #0  SECRET INVASION SPIDER-MAN #1 
DAREDEVIL #110 SECRET INVASION THOR #1
DC UNIVERSE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT #1 SECRET INVASION X-MEN #1 
DC WILDSTORM DREAMWAR #5  SHE-HULK 2 #32
DETECTIVE COMICS #847  SKAAR SON OF HULK #3
DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #10 SKRULLS VS POWER PACK #2 
ETERNALS #3 SPAWN #184
FANTASTIC FOUR #560 SUPERMAN #679
FINAL CRISIS #1 DIRECTORS CUT  SUPERMAN BATMAN #51
FINAL CRISIS LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #1  THUNDERBOLTS #123
FINAL CRISIS REVELATIONS #1  TRINITY #10
FINAL CRISIS ROGUES REVENGE #2  TRINITY #11
FINAL CRISIS SUPERMAN BEYOND #1  TRINITY #12
FOOLKILLER SHORT TIME #2  TRINITY #13
GHOST RIDER #26 TWELVE #7 
GHOST RIDER ANNUAL #2  ULTIMATE ORIGINS #3 
GRAVEL #6 WRAP CVR  ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #125
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #11 ULTIMATE X-MEN #97
GREEN LANTERN #34 UNCANNY X-MEN #501
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #27 WALKING DEAD #54 
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #4 WAR HEROES #3 
I KILL GIANTS #2  WOLVERINE #68
INCREDIBLE HERCULES #120 WONDER WOMAN #23
INVINCIBLE #55 X-FACTOR #34 
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #4 X-FACTOR SPECIAL LAYLA MILLER
IRON FIST ORIGIN OF DANNY RAND X-FORCE #6
IRON MAN DIRECTOR OF SHIELD #32 X-MEN LEGACY #215
JACK OF FABLES #26  YOUNG LIARS #6 
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #24  

OMG!!! WTF with all the Secret Invasion minis!?!?!? I mean, sure, I don’t HAVE to buy them… bastards. UGH, stuff I’m looking forward to, besides the huge bill on my next credit card statement… Captain America (OBV!), Punisher #60 (Final Garth Ennis), the Layla Miller X-Factor Special, the final All-Star Superman, and this…