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!

Continue reading

Review: Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! #1

run

Final Crisis was an epic series – say what you want about the quality, but the scope was undeniably enormous.  When it was announced that there would be a series of titles spinning out of it, I was reluctantly excited.  Though Escape made no sense and had a minor-league creative team at best, the other three had, I felt, some promise.  

Run!, the first of the four minis, does not live up to any of that promise.  Sturges has done some excellent work, most recently over in Blue Beetle, and his Vertigo titles have generally been fairly high quality, but Run! feels bland through and through, with none of the boundless creativity of Final Crisis, the wit demonstrated in Blue Beetle, or the darkly comic horror seen in House of Mystery… and the book desperately needs to be grounded in one of those.

Instead, it, much like last year’s Salvation Run, is a generic book about a villain in over his head.  It is by no means a bad book – the art by Freddie Williams II is great throughout, aptly illustrating just how much of a slob the Human Flame really is – but there just isn’t anything to get excited about.  It’s too slow for a balls-to-the-wall action book, but with no compelling drama to back it up and a purposely witless narrator telling us the story, the human element doesn’t work either.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! is a book that could’ve gone anywhere, and, faced with so many choices, couldn’t make up its mind.   Sturges is clearly a competent writer, but he just doesn’t seem to have a handle on villains just yet, and while there are a number of genuinely fun moments in the comic backed up by some solid art, there’s little that begs for five more issues.

Grade: C

Read/RANT

Review: Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4

Final Crisis Legion Of Three Worlds #4 (of 5)

Final Crisis Legion Of Three Worlds #4 (of 5) (Cover B)

(***)

Nice cover trick, putting Bart on the cover is a nice touch. This series feels like Geoff Johns’ version of Sin City. No, it’s not full of hookers, but like Sin City, this comic is incredibly indulgent. Just about everything and everyone Johns loves is in this book. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Hal Jordan showed up in the last chapter. I won’t even bother to mention that Final Crisis, which finished late, ended three months ago.

I’m actually going to keep this review spoiler-free. I’m pleased with the return in this issue. If you want to know who came back, check this out. Even though there are too many characters returning from the grave, especially in DC, I was happy with this. It had a great “Hell Yeah!” feel to it, and it was explained well. I am, however, not that fond of Bart’s return. The Legion bottled his youth? WTF!? It’s a bit nonsensical.

George Perez provides the art, and it looks very pretty. “Some of his best work,” I would say. However, with the way Johns is writing this comic, and with Perez on the interiors, this really does feel like a 70’s comic, and that’s a bad thing. Now, I’ve talked about how Hulk feels like a modern Stan Lee comic, but it’s still modern. Legion of 3 Worlds seems to be leading the charge of an old man telling kids to get off their lousy skateboards. Attempting to regress the medium is horrible.

However, even with all of this book’s flaws, I’m still enjoying it. This issue is filled with exposition and action. Also, if you’re a fan of Johns’ recent Legion work, there are a couple of nice character moments. Once again, this comic provides a last-page reveal. I have a feeling that a lot of fans are going to be pissed about it.

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #3

Final Crisis Legion Of Three Worlds #3 (of 5) (Cover B)

(***1/2)

The third issue is here! Only two issues of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds left. Final Crisis…already concluded? Yeah, that’s pretty ridiculous. I find it amusing that Final Crisis finished one month after it was supposed to and everybody bitched about the delays. I haven’t heard any complaints about this book’s punctuality. I think it’s nice that Morrison included LO3W into Final Crisis continuity. So, in FC #3, Superman goes into Superman Beyond to save Lois. He returns immediately. Then he goes to LO3W. The Legion have always returned him to the right moment in the past, but this time he comes back in FC #6 to find Batman dead and Earth in the firm grasp of Darkseid. Oops! I hope Johns actually mentions this in the fifth issue. If not, why wasn’t this called, “Buy Adventure Comics!”

Having said all that, I actually do enjoy this series. It’s kind of a Silver Age throwback with a modern twist. That’s a good summary of most Geoff Johns books, actually. It’s not just Perez’s art. It also shares the Silver Age spirit of packing as much story as possible into every issue. This will take you a half an hour to read. That’s pretty refreshing in these decompressed times of ours.

While I’m on this Silver Age rant, why not talk about George Perez’s art? I’ve never been much of a fan. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t reading comics during his hay-day. I do admire his work. If you want to cram an entire universe into two pages, he’s your man. But other than that, his art always looks bland and even a bit uninspired to me. However, LO3W is the best George Perez has ever looked. Maybe it’s because of a fantastic supporting team, but Perez’s work here looks genuinely epic. His renderings capture the book’s scope perfectly. And Perez makes the large quantity of story content possible. So much is crammed into every page, but thankfully, it doesn’t feel forced.

If you’re a fan of Johns or Perez, this series is a must. Both men are at the top of their game. They provide a thoroughly entertaining and dense adventure. It’s not perfect and I’m not the biggest Legion fan, but it undeniably gives you your money’s worth. Oh and as usual, this book is an essential part of the Geoff Johns mythos. This issue in particular. “Something big happens! Go buy now!”

Review: Final Crisis: Revelations #5

Final Crisis Revelations #5 (of 5)

(****)

Ah, Final Crisis: Revelations, I had such high hopes for you. Hindered by your promises and title and in the end, you really had nothing to do with Final Crisis. In fact, you suffered because of it. With a better shipping schedule, no tie-in obligations, and it all would’ve been more impressive if bigger and better things weren’t happening in Final Crisis. Seriously, could you imagine if this was just a usual in-continuity book? The zombie heroes and villains would’ve been much more impactful. Still, you were a pretty good mini, right?

I think your biggest claim to fame will be the recognition of newcomer, Phillip Tan. Fans (Including myself) were so impressed with his art that he already has a gig on the new Orange Lantern story. That’s pretty cool. Tan’s art was often the best part about Revelations. His skills were needed to capture the tone and scope of this biblical series. Though at times it looked like a 90’s Image book (Possibly because of his inker or colorist), Tan has established himself as an artist very much worthy of the big books in this medium.

As for Greg Rucka, this book was most rewarding for the fans of his earlier works. Those who’ve followed Renee and Crispus since the beginning were treated to some hard-hitting drama. Those who haven’t can still enjoy this thought-provoking epic. Though most of this series was knee-deep in oblivion, I’m happy to report that it all has a happy ending. Since Final Crisis’ conclusion is still very fresh in my mind, I have to ask Rucka to follow the story Morrison gave him, Montoya’s journey through the Multiverse. I believe it would challenge Rucka and such challenges often lead a writer to be the best he can be. After all, Crispus’ journey seems to have a nice conclusion for now. It’d be refreshing to see a new direction. At the end of the day, I think it’s safe to say that Final Crisis Revelations was not the story we expected. However, it was a fantastic tale that actually offered a positive, but not preachy, religious message.

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/RANT: Final Crisis #6

So I read Final Crisis 6. Was quite looking forward to it, considering that I enjoyed issues four and five, and the buzz for six was pretty positive on the boards I frequent. I had heard vaguely about what happens to Batman, but in general I was going into this clean. Well guess what…this was a terrible issue. This thing was incomprehensibly messy in so many ways. Morrison isn’t even bothering trying to explain himself or his characters or his plot movements anymore. Things just happen because they have to. Case in point: The book opens with Superman and Brainiac 5.1 presumably in the 31st century. So when did this happen? Superman Beyond? Legion of Three Worlds? Didn’t read ‘em, don’t care. Even still, wasn’t Superman supposed to be at Lois’ bedside using his heat vision to make sure her heart wouldn’t stop? Didn’t the crazy monitor chick from issue two tell him he’d be back from his journey nigh instantaneously? Wasn’t that the whole point of why he decided to go with her? So where the hell has he been in the past three issues? And why does Lois show up halfway through the book showing no ill effects of a building falling down on top of her? There’s no way enough time has passed for her to heal from her injuries. This is abjectly ludicrous storytelling.

To further compound things, we have Batman. This would be the same Batman that got put into Granny’s crazy machine thing in issue two. Like Superman, he shows up out of nowhere in this issue. But this is even worse, considering Batman was CAPTURED, somehow escaped, somehow found Darkseid, somehow got his hands on a time traveling God bullet firing pistol, AND somehow managed to hold onto the bullet from Orion’s crime scene. Did no one search his damned belt? And what the blue hell is the “Omega Sanction”? Is it different from his Omega beams? And why the fuck should I care? Then Superman shows up and unleashes hell, and we’re treated with another example of how bad this issue is. Ever read a book and feel like you’re missing some pages? The transitions in this book are DREADFUL, and one of the best examples of that is the move from the penultimate spread to the final page. Sure, it follows that Supes goes nuts because Batman died. But from a script and sequential art perspective, moving from Superman devastating everything in sight to suddenly holding Batman’s desiccated corpse Crisis 7 style is just badly done and jarring. But this isn’t jarring in such a way that helps the tone or aids some kind of a reveal. This just sorta happens.

These types of bad transitions happen throughout the book, which basically consists of various snapshots of everything that’s going on. But each scene is too short and chaotic, and it all boils down to a manic jumble of white noise. People do things, battles take place, Checkmate has some crazy Brother Eye thingie that may have something to do with the return of Superman. Both Luthor and the Flashes seem to have no problems overriding Anti-Life. Considering that all you have to do is scramble a signal or prove true love exists (or whatever the hell Barry Allen’s been doing), this diminishes the dread nature of Anti-Life a bit. I get that it’s basically just Apokolips on Earth, but I feel like the events are no longer justifying the tone. Especially considering how easily Darkseid was taken down by a mortal man (yet another example of Batman being written too strong, but this has gone on for years, so I can’t really grouse about it now). Does this mean that some crazy new villain is going to show up for half an issue? Is this finally becoming a multiverse story? I mean, we’ve seen the Monitors and a few other things, but this series has been contained on Earth so far. It’s a dangerous situation where Morrison might try and blow this up too huge for one issue to handle. Darkseid’s death didn’t really feel like a climax. I guess we’ll find out soon enough if they keep their new schedule, and get issue seven out at the end of the month.

Really, what we have here is a situation where Morrison just doesn’t have enough pages to cohesively tell the story he wants to. He’s probably getting his point across to the DC historians and die hards who know these characters and are reading the tie-ins (and Seven Soldiers), but this just does not work on its own as a mini series. It’s been a weird read, because he completely lost me with the first three issues, got me back with four and five, and lost me all over again with issue six. It’s incredibly frustrating.

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!

Review: Final Crisis: Secret Files #1

Final Crisis Secret Files #1 (Cover B)

(***1/2)

I love Final Crisis, but this issue demonstrates my biggest problem with the whole thing. Well, it’s more of a fear. What if this isn’t Morrison’s vision? I don’t want to go too much into it so I’ll just focus on this issue. Check out the solicitation. Grant Morrison didn’t write this issue. Peter J. Tomasi didn’t write this issue. Frank Quitely, other than the cover, did not draw this issue. Instead, we get a mediocre Libra tale that’s mostly been told before. It’s from Len Wein and Tony Shasteen and it should have come out after Final Crisis #2. The big kick in the pants? SPOILER Libra is just Libra END SPOILER. So, that’s a bumber. Anyway, this is important stuff people. It gives some Libra back-story. Len Wein provides a decent story and Shasteen’s art is…frankly, pretty ugly. But the last six pages are pure gold. We get some more Crime Bible from Mr. Rucka himself. This is about all that Revelations nonsense. Then we get a page from Morrison that explains in detail about the Anti-Life Equation. If I had a dollar for everyone who asked me about the Anti-Life Equation I’d be…well, not rich, but I’d have about thirteen dollars! See what I mean about the “this should have come out a long time ago” thing? We then get four pages from Morrison and JG Jones that explain all those Nix Uotan drawings. I hope we get to see more of these creations. Morrison has invented elaborate histories like he’s J. R. R. Tolkien. Again, Superman Beyond #2, Final Crisis #6 and 7 should blow some damn minds. This, not so much, but it’s still worth your time and money.

Bruce Castle Presents: Batman vs. Daredevil!

Large Cover of Batman #683

Batman #683 (****)

Morrison’s retelling continues. We get to see the shirtless Neal Adams Batman again. The world gets darker for Bruce. The issue ends promising the Dark Knight’s last adventure in Final Crisis #6, but as Morrison has proved over the last few years, Batman can’t die. Even in this issue, Batman continues to beat everyone. It doesn’t matter that Dark Space Gods are trying to screw with his brain, he’s Batman. He’ll always win. He can even make his enemies turn against each other. One of the many gems in this issue is an alternate reality where Bruce never dressed up like a bat. Do you remember that great episode of the 90’s cartoon? It’s kind of like that. Bruce is a bit of a pansy. He even gets conned. Oh, and something bad happens to Dick. Heck, the Joker doesn’t even exist. It’s kind of the Batman version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. This is a fitting end to at least the first chapter of Morrison’s Batman epic.

Large Cover of Daredevil #114 (Villain Variant)

Daredevil #114 (****1/2)

We’re half way there. I still don’t know how this will end. What I do know is that this is Brubaker’s best Daredevil arc. Matt continues to get dragged through the muck. There is no happiness. There is no hope. Every glimmer of happiness gets ripped away from him. He even thinks about living in a cave in this issue. Get away from the people he cares about and just be Daredevil full time. Will he lose Milla soon? Will he lose Dakota? And I haven’t even talked about his villain problems yet. Along with the main players, an additional cast of interesting characters are present. Heck, we even get a new villain. I’m still not sure how I feel about Lady Bullseye yet. All she’s had to be so far is threatening. At least she’s achieved that. So if you’ve thought about getting back into Daredevil’s whacky adventures, now is the time.

SeventhSoldier Presents: War

War, huh? What is it good for? Some pretty good comics, that’s what.

Wonder Woman #26

wonder-woman

The beginning of Simone’s Rise of the Olympian arc, Wonder Woman’s big shake-up for this year, it also serves as the introduction of her brand new villain – Genocide.  And, to get this out of the way right smack-dab in the beginning of the review, it’s a solid opening issue, if not a stellar one.

Genocide is, to my surprise, a terrible villain.  Thankfully, Simone smartly avoids the issue, because while Genocide, like most one-note characters, is not a particularly compelling personality, she is an excellent monster – and I feel that her costume and dialogue accurately reflect this.

The story is brief – I could sum up everything that happens in about two sentences.  That said, as in every issue, the characterization was spot-on, there was wit, danger, some great action, and even Tresser had a pretty awesome moment.

A good opening, it makes me hopeful for the remainder of the arc, but it doesn’t quite grab me the way I think it should.  Lopresti’s art is magnificent – woo! no cheesecake! – and while he handles everything the issue demands of him with grace and style, a fight as apparently brutal as this one needs an artist willing to get significantly dirtier than Lopresti looks able to get.  The panelling is brilliant, the coloring is great, everything is well handled… but the action of the issue just doesn’t quite feel particularly urgent.  Normally, I don’t mind that in Simone’s WW comics, as we get a series of great character moments and dramatic scenes, but this issue is a fightin’ issue, and as that, it fails to be all it can be.

Grade: B

Unknown Soldier #1

unknown

Unknown Soldier is one of the newest Vertigo books, an action-heavy comic taking place in Uganda just a couple years back.  It’s pretty violent, and while its decent set-up, I’ve never been a fan of the device in which a character ‘just knows stuff’, and the issue relies pretty heavily on that.  A promising beginning, but nothing special, lacking both heart and urgency.

Grade: C+

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns

rage

A poorly executed thirty-page long ad for another event, clumsily shoe-horned into Final Crisis continuity.  As much as I love the concept of the War of Light, all desire to read it has been killed.  So, to that one guy who absolutely hates me for not loving Geoff Johns, congratulations – I won’t be reviewing very many of his books from here on out.

Grade: D+

Bruce Castle’s DC March Solicits

Ok, so last month Dclebeau came up with a fun idea of going over some of the solicitations we get monthly. I thought about doing a Marvel one last month, but I was too busy. I should totally just wait to do a Marvel one this time, but I can’t help it. DC is the better universe right now. I’ll only cover the books I’m reading though, so it won’t be too many. Still, sorry for stealing your thunder Lebeau.

FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF 3 WORLDS #5
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by George Pérez & Scott Koblish
Covers by George Pérez
This is it! The time-stopping finale to this FINAL CRISIS tie-in arrives as Superman, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl battle Time Trapper while Prime and the Legion of Super-Villains engage in an all-out war with the Legions! Leading into the all-new ADVENTURE COMICS #1!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers by George Pérez that will ship in approximately 50/50 ratio. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale March 25 • 5 of 5 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

This book started in August. Issue #3 isn’t even out yet. I like it, but how the hell can this be Final Crisis when that ends in January? Oh well, hopefully these issues will be good since they’re so late. That makes sense, right?

BATMAN: BATTLE FOR THE COWL #1
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel & Sandu Florea
Covers by Tony Daniel
“Batman: R.I.P.” and FINAL CRISIS saw the end of Batman. Now, months following the disappearance of her protector, Gotham City sits at a precipice and it may be too far gone for Nightwing, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and the rest of the city’s heroes to save the day. Amid the fires, rioting, looting and gang warfare, one question rings out from the souls of Gotham’s desperate citizens: Where is Batman?
With guest-stars galore, the destruction of a sacred Gotham City institution and an ending that will have everyone talking, this 3-issue miniseries event written and drawn by Tony Daniel (The Tenth) features the battle to take on the Mantle of the Bat. Who has earned the right? Who thinks they deserve it? Robin? Nightwing? Jason Todd? Two-Face? Catwoman? Batgirl? Who will ultimately win the BATTLE FOR THE COWL?
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Tony Daniel), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Tony Daniel). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale March 11 • 1 of 3 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

“The end of Batman” in Final Crisis? So, I guess Didio really did make Morrison move his RIP “reveal” to Final Crisis? Oh well, I’m sure Final Crisis #6 will still kick ass. I like that cover. Maybe Tony Daniel is a good artist. Will he be a good writer? So, look at the cover again. Let’s see, Nightwing in the middle of course, Damian, Batwoman, Huntress, Catwoman, and Wildcat?! WTF?! The solicit talks about who will battle for the cowl. Two-Face, Batgirl and Jason Todd (Robin too, but Damien could be Robin) are not on that cover. Or are they? Could Two-Face be the new Wildcat? Stay tuned!

SIMON DARK #18
Written by Steve Niles
Art and cover by Scott Hampton
Can there truly be life after death? Simon and his family of friends must cope with the gruesome aftermath of a profound loss. But the load may be too heavy for Simon’s shoulders to bear. Has his time as Gotham’s darkest protector come to a close? Must he give up his dreams of a normal life?
FINAL ISSUE • On sale March 11 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Ok, I lied. I won’t pick this up, but I will talk about it. I like Steve Niles. It’s weird because I’ve only read a few 30 Days of Night books. I’ve wanted to read more of his stuff, but I just haven’t yet. I heard this book was pretty popular. I thought about reading it, but again I didn’t and now it dies. Too bad. Someday Mr. Niles, I’ll pick up one of your books and I’ll love it as much as I loved the first 30 Days of Night series.

GREEN LANTERN #40
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Philip Tan & Jonathan Glapion
Variant cover by Rodolfo Migliari
“Agent Orange” part 2! The prelude to “The Blackest Night” continues as the war of light explodes across the Vega System. It’s the Green Lantern Corps vs. the bizarre Orange Lantern Corps led by the most disgusting, filthiest, vilest being in the universe. But now that Agent Orange has been disturbed, what does that mean to the rest of the universe? Plus, John Stewart battles alongside his newest ally…Fatality?
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Philip Tan & Jonathan Glapion), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Rodolfo Migliari). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale March 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Philip Tan! I’m so glad he has a home after he finishes Final Crisis: Revelations. He’s a pretty awesome newcomer and hey he’s nice too. I met him at Comic-Con this year. It was right before Revelations #1 and I got a sketch of Dr. Light from him. “I have a feeling something bad will happen to him” I said. I am so smart! Humble too! And hey, it sounds like John Stewart is in the spotlight this issue. Cool!

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #25
Written by Geoff Johns & Jerry Ordway
Art by Jerry Ordway & Bob Wiacek
Cover by Alex Ross
Variant cover by Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill
The “Black Adam and Isis” epic concludes here! With Billy Batson banished from the Rock of Eternity, the Justice Society calls upon an old friend to help in the battle against the Black Marvel family and stop Black Adam and Isis once and for all!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Alex Ross), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale March 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

So, will Mary Marvel still be evil after Final Crisis? Did you all hear about Johns leaving this book after #26? So sad. I wonder who the new creative team will be of course. I might be out soon. If I do leave, I’m glad the last story will be about Black Adam. Ever since 52, that guy has been one of my favorite villains.

SECRET SIX #7
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood
Cover by Nicola Scott
It’s the big finale of the first arc and a punishing battle royal, Gotham City style, as the bloody, ragged remains of the Secret Six fight their way through throngs of Gotham City heroes and villains. And when the dust finally settles, the man pulling the strings of this whole affair will finally be revealed! Guest stars, betrayals and bad taste galore in this powerful issue!
On sale March 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I have an unhealthy obsession with this book. I loved Villains United. I loved the Secret Six mini. This is better than both of those. I don’t know how that’s possible. Why is the first arc seven issues and not six? Shouldn’t all these arcs be six issues long? Oh well. Next solicits we’ll find out if the creative team stays the same for the new arc. I will lose my mind if it changes. Please guys, with all the DC books dying these days, check this book out. I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone disliking this yet.

BATMAN: MAD LOVE AND OTHER STORIES HC
Written by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm & Glen Murakami
Art and cover by Bruce Timm, Mike Parobeck, Matt Wagner, Dan DeCarlo, Klaus Janson and Glen Murakami
Cover by Bruce Timm
Tales by two of the creators behind the acclaimed Batman Animated TV series are collected for the first time in hardcover!
The centerpiece of this fantastic collection is the Eisner Award-winning BATMAN: MAD LOVE, the surprisingly dark origin of Harley Quinn, co-starring The Joker and Poison Ivy as well as Batman. Also included are tales by Dini, Timm and others that feature the Scarecrow, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, Batgirl and more, from BATMAN ADVENUTURES ANNUAL #1-2 and stories from the BATMAN ADVENTURES HOLIDAY SPECIAL, ADVENTURES IN THE DC UNIVERSE #3 and BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE #1!
Advance-solicited; on sale May 20 • 208 pg, FC, $19.99 US

I am such a hardcover whore. I loved the animated series so damn much! Who didn’t? So if you love hardcovers and dislike crappy trades, pick this up! One question though, why couldn’t they include that Poison Ivy mini? That was Dini and Timm and it would fit perfectly with this. Oh well, maybe someday.

Ok I’m done. That wasn’t too much, was it lebeau? What did you guys think of these solicits? Pretty boring, right? I guess the big events won’t kick off until about May. There was something that did excite me. Something that pretty much inspired this post.

Check out this week’s Lying in the Gutters.

“Grant Morrison is indeed writing a monthly Batman book after “Final Crisis”/”Whatever Happened To…”/ “Battle For The Cowl” and the like have wrapped.

And the penciller?

Get ready.

DC people tell me it’s one Frank Quitely.”

Yahoo! Hooray! Wave your hands in the air! And so on. So Grant Morrison is back on Batman. That’s fantastic. Is Tony Daniel back? Nope, it’s Frank Quitely. Forget Batman and Robin! Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are the real Dynamic Duo. One of the best teams in comics baby! I do have one concern. How long will Frank be on the book? I love the guy, but he is sssssllllloooowwww. If you thought the Batman RIP issues were late, you probably won’t be happy unless Quitely gets his ass in gear. Anyway, that’s your DC March Solicits!

Bruce Castle Presents: Final Crisis For The T-Bolts And The X-Men!

Thunderbolts #126

Thunderbolts #126 (****)

Wow! Cool cover, right? I don’t know who Francesco Mattina is, but I’m sure we’ll see plenty more from him in the future. Ok, so I loved Ellis’ Thunderbolts run. It’s only two damn trades! Pick them up if you haven’t already. I’m happy to see that the new writer, Andy Diggle, doesn’t try to screw with what Ellis did. He writes the characters the same, but he does have to shake things up. This is Diggle’s first issue, so it won’t be his best. The book is a little humorous, but not as much as it was. There’s also a scene between Radioactive Man and Songbird that seems off. Other than those minor faults, Diggle writes a pretty damn good book. Torre tries to keep the artistic style of Ellis’ run as well. His work is similar to Deodato’s without copying him. It looks pretty cool. Congratulations guys! I’m eager to find out what happens next!

Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes #2 (of 2)

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #2 (***1/2)

Damn you Bianchi and your blank covers! Don’t draw this. Spend your time on the main title please. Clayton Crain or Kaare Andrews or even someone else could have done the cover. Anyway, it’s official, this was filler. I doubt these two issues really meant anything. But there’s a big difference between regular filler and Ellis filler. This issue was so sad! Last issue was about the different Subject X’s. This issue is about the different results the Ghost Boxes could have had and they are dark. Really really really dark, I need a hug. This issue also includes Ellis’ script. You definitely have to read the script. I read the script and then looked at what the artist drew and let me tell you, Ellis tells a much better story. The artist either ignores things or in Crain’s case, you can’t notice the details that Ellis wrote. But the art is still pretty. I like Clayton Crain and Kaare Andrews and I don’t see their art often. If you can get past the 4 dollar price tag and the fact that this is just a What If, give this a try.

Final Crisis Revelations #4 (of 5) (Cover B)

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 (****)

How can this book feel so epic and so self-contained at the same time? Brilliant writing that’s how. And I still love Tan’s art. Sure it looks a little 90’s at times, but he captures all the emotion and the biblical tone perfectly. I think this is pretty much what I’ve said on the other three reviews of this series. It’s more interesting to write negative reviews, isn’t it? The only thing that bugged me was the ending. This can’t affect Final Crisis, right? Oh well, I’m eager to see how this ends. What will happen to Crispus Allen? I know Montoya will be presented with something big and I wonder what it is. What will happen to Vandal Savage? And of course, will God finally show up?

Final Crisis #5

I just want to apologize real quick for my lack of appearance in the last couple weeks.  I have a backlog of reviews that will be coming up in the next couple weeks, but I had to concentrate on finishing up my first semester of grad work.  Still, Internet access fixed and semester over, I will now be returning to my actual reviews

ww

Final Crisis #5: Into Oblivion

Keeping things relatively spoiler free – I have Bruce and Billy to give you the skinny on everything what’s gone down – I have to say that this was another action packed issue of Final Crisis… but the question with Final Crisis has never been ‘does anything happen’, but ‘how does it happen?’  The first issue, while exciting, introduced a great deal in a series of relatively choppy segments with brief, sometimes ill-handled transitions, and as much as I’ve loved the series since, it’s spent the entire time playing catch-up to the 40 different plots introduced in #1.

While we’re still playing catch-up, the series has definitely leveled out, finally, into a well-written apocalyptic story with a palpable sense of dread and some pretty killer action… and a few answers to long-standing questions.  In a comics industry that has trained us to follow these events like dogs chasing cars, knowing that nothing will really change beyond a new series or two – and a few cancellations – Final Crisis has at least moments of genuine peril, wonder, and excitement.  That sounds like the beginning of a rant, and after the ‘end’ of Secret Invasion, believe you me there’s a rant brewin’ on the nature of our (still beloved) event-driven industry… but it might be a smidge inappropriate to throw in here.

Final Crisis #5 was, though, a well-written issue setting up a promising finale.  While the series has failed to live up to the highest standards of event comics, set by projects like 52, two issues remain in which Morrison still has a chance to bring the series to a resounding close.

Grade: B+

Review: Final Crisis #5 – Spoilers!

Final Crisis #5 (of 7) (Cover B)

(*****)

Pages 1-3: Even Granny Goodness knows about Parallax? Hal can’t catch a break! Remember that scar on Hal’s head that you first saw in Final Crisis #1? Well that’s explained here. Granny goes after the power battery! Good God these guys have a good plan. Take out the best heroes. Check. Enslave most of the planet. Check. Take control of the most powerful weapon in the universe.

Pages 4-6: Thankfully, not check. Hal punches Granny in the face! That was a fun sentence to write. Wow! Granny hurts a Guardian. Way to give the Alpha Lanterns too much power guys. Stupid Smurfs! We also know for sure that Darkseid’s fall, actually seen in DC Universe #0 I believe, is as Guy Gardner says, “dragging all our friends into hell with him”. Remember in issue #3 when the fast food Monitor was talking about the increased gravity? Think of Darkseid’s fall like a black hole. Everything is getting pulled in. Oh and this was a nice Hal moment. “You have 24 hours to save the universe, lantern Jordan”. I’ll stay away from the Jack Bauer joke, but I like that Grant is making the Lanterns play an important role here. And why shouldn’t they? Green Lanterns rule! Sure it’s mostly about Hal, but hey he was the one wrongly accused and had something put in his brain. And Kyle fans should be happy because he’s there too and so is Guy. What about Stewart?

Page 7: Ah, government super-soldiers, you have to love them. Hey it makes sense that Checkmate would have these. I wonder what role Montoya will play.

Pages 8-9: Ok, so the Plague Goddess, Wonder Woman, and the new Furies, Catwoman, Batwoman, and Gigantrix are set up in the present. Darkseid’s servants talk about their worth, but it doesn’t matter. This is all about Darkseid.

Pages 10-13: We see the struggling heroes. A lot of JSA, Tempest, and the Bulleteer! Oh and Donna Troy is a Dark Zombie, too bad. More Super Young Team, yay! “How will you explain yourselves to this man’s fans?” Ha Ha! So the new hip definition of a Motherboxxx is “If Gods made I-Pods that were alive?” Way beyond that”.  The Swiss border just got further away? Explain it Mr. Miracle. “A fallen Devil-God is dragging us down with him into a deep, dark hole in time, with no light, no hope and no escape”. So Grant has explained it a few times now. No confusion, right?

Pages 14-17: King Kalibak and his Tiger-Clan! The animal theme continues! Why shouldn’t big events affect the animals? We also get two pages of pretty splash. Four motorcycles? Why not? As we learned from Mad Max, it’s the best vehicle for the apocalypse. Who’s in here? More JSA (Makes sense. They’ve been around the longest. They’re the cockroaches of the DCU), Black Adam, John Stewart (No not from the Daily Show, the GL. See, all the Green Lanterns are getting some love) and Frankenstein baby!

Page 18-19: The different languages theme continues! Again, I love it! Why should big events just affect Americans? Frankenstein quotes Paradise Lost? That’s cool. I know Morrison thinks of Darkseid as part Milton’s Satan. Supergirl vs. Mary S&M? Not yet, first Black Adam has to beat her ass!

Pages 20-21: “I saw a leering old man in her eyes!” Who do you think is in Mary Marvel? Is this Desaad? I wonder what her “blasphemous name of power” is. Damn, she hits Freddie and Black Adam pretty hard. Oh and Kalibak beating Tawky Tawny? I called it.

Pages 22-24: We check up on our lost Monitor. There’s a harry figure, that is pretty much revealed to be Weeja Dell, the lost Monitor’s girl. And the other mysterious figure is Metron. Think about it. Weeja shows the chair drawing. This guy is wearing blue and glued to his chair. When was the last time you saw Metron out of his chair? He also cracks the “God number” of the Rubik Cube that makes things go blue explodey.

Page 25: This is an interesting Luthor moment. Siding with aliens trying to enslave the human race? That’s what you fight against Luthor! Fight back! Libra, haven’t seen much of him lately, says something unsettling as well, “I might even let you be first in line with Supergirl”. Raping Supergirl? Is that a thought that has crossed Luthor’s mind? This is a dark crazy world.

Page 26: Jordan’s ring isn’t working right? Everything is going wrong. Darkseid’s loyal servants are dying. “All flesh will be Darkseid’s body.”Whoa!

Page 27-28: “It’s like a brain sending signals to a gigantic nervous system”, whoa again! “Dropp’d from the zenith like a falling star”, more Paradise Lost. Supergirl and Mary fight in one panel. Maybe we’ll get more next issue? The Green Lanterns are coming thank God.

Pages 29-31: Ok, did anyone else read Darkseid’s words here out loud? I hope so. This is some crazy stuff! I’m one of the guys who think Darkseid can give Luthor a run for his money in the “Best Superman Villain” category, but even I can’t think of a time when Darkseid has seemed this startling. When has he been scarier? When has he seemed this powerful? “The Fifth World of Darkseid has begun!”

Page 32: The lost Monitor is the Metron of the Fifth World. “Something new is born.” He doesn’t have a chair, but has that blue thingy around his head instead. Well, the guy is a dreamer so it makes sense that he’s more visual.

Desiato Reviews Some Final Crisis Books

Final Crisis #4 (***1/2)


Best issue of the series to this point. Looks like most of the blatant silliness of the plot was setup, and we’ve now reached the meat of the story. Thus, I can sit back and really let the sense of dread wash over. It’s a more straightforward story that is now relying more on plot pieces from earlier issues than plot pieces from ealier generally unrelated comics. Now, something like utilizing The Ray for a good chunk of the book without any real discussion of who he is and why he should be important doesn’t really work for me, mostly because I don’t really have any initiative to dig deeper into the character. It didn’t take away from things as much this time around. But I really want to talk about DC and their attempts to publish this book. DC COMPLETELY dropped the ball on this series. We saw no issue in July, and no issue in September. There was a twelve week hap between issues three and four. Ostensibly, this was designed to allow for the tie ins to take cetner stage. But they couldn’t even do that right, with a book like Final Crisis: Submit, that is blatantly designed to bridge the third and fourth issues, being unable to come out in that twelve week gap. Putting those two books on the stands on the same day completely ruing the point of the skip month. Things came out in bunches, and DC didn’t try particularly hard to push these tie ins, which made it very easy to disconnect for folks (like me) that aren’t heavily entrenched in the series. Of course, the real reason for the skip month was to give JG Jones enough lead time to finish the series. And we all know by now that he won’t even have ANY work in the seventh issue. So if we believe what Morrison says about when he finished the script for issue one, JG had more than a year to work on this, and managed to get a total of three issues done on his own. Plus, issue five is being pushed back a week to the beginning of December. The funny thing about all of this is that I actually prefer the Jones/Pacheco team. I still don’t like the way Jones draws faces, so the Pacheco were way more enjoyable. Jones still does the big splash moments very well, but I’d rather have Pacheco than a rushed Jones doing the quieter moments. Final word: nothing in here particularly bothered me. The Darkseid stuff was good. The art was improved. It didn’t wow me completely, and I still don’t think it’s high art, but at least it’s gotten better.

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns (****1/2)


See, this is the Geoff Johns that I like. Haven’t seen him in a while, but he’s back now. It’s also nice to know that this book proves I didn’t have to read the rest of Secret Origin, because the big characters are explained in a way that does not require prior knowledge (outside of things garnered from the series itself), and as someone that only read the first three issues of Secret Origin, I didn’t miss a thing. This is something I don’t get often from a Johns book. This issue really is what I love about Green Lantern. As others have mentioned, this book itself is very reminiscent of the Sinestro Corps War Special one shot, and even though I still contend that Secret Origin was a waste of seven months, but at least Johns is back on track. The Red Lanterns are certainly an over the top bunch of folks, what with the anger and the fire and the puking blood and such, but it fits with their MO. Shane Davis sure does make them come alive, and the fact that all the artists are working from Ethan Van Sciver’s original character designs leads to a nice sense of continuity. But beyond all the Red Lantern hysteria, you’ve got a second mini story following Hal Jordan. This is the first time we’ve seen Johns writing Hal in the present in a long time, but quite a bit has gone on in the Green Lantern Corps book during that time, so there’s a bit of a disconnect, but it’s not enough of one to ruin things. Doesn’t really have much of anything to do with Final Crisis other than time line constraints. Hal’s going to have to get back to Earth pretty soon so he can get framed and arrested. That little bit does strain on the credulity. But other than that, good stuff.

Bruce Castle Presents: DC Comics Rule!

Final Crisis Resist #1 (Cover B)

Final Crisis: Resist (*****)

I’m starting to sound like a broken record aren’t I? I just can’t help it! This is another Final Crisis related comic that I love. I never read Rucka’s run on Checkmate (Hell, I haven’t even read all of Queen & Country!), but this issue definitely makes me want to. This comic has it all! Do you think Sasha Bordeaux, Mr. Terrific, Cheetah and Snapper Carr are cool? Probably not, but thanks to Rucka’s fantastic writing you will after this! I just love the situation these heroes are in. Few against many? Check. Heroes fighting heroes? Check. Love and sacrifice? Check. In the beginning of the book I had no hope and by the end I felt like these guys could actually resist (Oh yeah I used the titular word). Rucka even managed to make me laugh a few times along the way. And of course, Ryan Sook rocks the art. Sorry Johns, but Rucka is definitely writing the better tie-ins (Especially since they actually TIE-IN to Final Crisis in a meaningful way).

Justice Society Of America #20 (Eaglesham Variant Edition)

Justice Society of America #20 (***1/2)

This issue is definitely a weak link. It’s not bad, but when every other issue (except maybe those Lightning Saga ones) is so great, this one looks a little bad. Johns has proved himself to be an excellent juggler on this series. There are so many cast members and yet they all have their great moments, but Johns finally slips on the plot. Ever since the Annual, that Earth 2 story has been running alongside the Gog arc. That’s worked well until now, but the complete absence of Gog bothered me a bit. I’d be more forgiving if the Earth 2 business had concluded. However, you did read that star count correctly. This is a good issue. There are still those magical character moments (The best involves Mr. Terrific. Hey! Isn’t he fighting for his life right now?) and Dale Eaglesham does make the book look pretty. Maybe what’s bothering me is the fact that it doesn’t really feel like an arc has concluded in JSA since the first one 16 issues ago!

Secret Six #3 (*****)

I don’t like to have two five star ratings in the same post, but they are both so awesome! I’ve already tossed out enough compliments in my FC Resist review and I’d prefer not to repeat adjectives. I love this book. I would even say that this is the book Gail Simone was born to write and Nicola Scott provides some phenomenal art. Do people realize how awesome Scott is yet? These women know their psychotic killers! Hey! Cheetah is in here!? Shouldn’t she be fighting for her life too? Not only is this book a lot of fun, it also has a really creepy villain! For those who have already read this, how awesome was Junior with that pink umbrella!?

Bruce Castle Presents: Halloween Comic Review Extravaganza!

The Long Halloween #1 of 13

Ah, Halloween. A time when comic fans reread Batman: The Long Halloween. Or maybe the entire trilogy! Read my reviews for those books here, here and here. No I’m not Jeph Loeb, but I am going as Jeph Loeb for Halloween. Hey, his writing is terrifying. Terrifyingly terrible! See, I praise them and then I make fun of them. That’s how I role. Anyway, instead of going out and being social at parties (Who wants to do that?), why don’t you kick back and get your scare on comics style!

Final Crisis Rage Of The Red Lanterns #1 (VARIANT COVER)

“EEEK! Red Lanterns!” Final Crisis: Rage Of The Red Lanterns (*****)

So many awesome covers this week! But I don’t think this one is my favorite (More on that in another post. Stay Tuned!). Yes, the art is a big part of this issue. I was originally going to praise Shane Davis, but I don’t think he’s the artistic star. Sure his character designs for the RL’s (Including one of the funniest most awesome lanterns ever!) are amazing and he does help make this comic epic, but I think his inker (Sandra Hope, the sexiest inker in the biz) and his colorist (Nei Ruffing) save his ass. Davis’ art is just a bit too inconsistent. The awkward faces don’t help either. Still, due to the aforementioned ass savers, this book still looks fantastic. Johns brings the goods as expected, but I have to criticize (as I must in all of Johns’ Final Crisis tie-ins) him for this issues’ lack of relevance to Final Crisis. But besides that, this comic is creepy, funny, bloody (So much red!) and entertaining!

In the Chapel of Moloch (one-shot)

“What The Hell Is That!?” Hellboy: In The Chapel Of Moloch (****1/2)

Ah, the good old days. A Done-In-One Hellboy story written and drawn by Mike Mignola. Yeah, I said “drawn by Mike Mignola”. What’s it been? Three years since he’s done interiors? I’d pretty much love this just for that even if the writing was terrible, but it’s not. I’m talking 24 pages of advertisement-free Hellboy awesomeness. All the classic Hellboy elements are present. This means it’s not quite as unique as this years Hellboy: The Crooked Man, but it’s just as fun. Throw the Mignola art into the mix and you definitely have a winner.

Astounding Wolf-man #9

“AAAHHH! Wolf-Man!” Astounding Wolf-Man #9 (****)

This comic isn’t usually scary and…I guess this issue isn’t any different, but it’s definitely shocking! I’ve written about it a lot in my recent Invincible reviews, but I don’t think I’ve covered it in my Wolf-Man posts. FCO Plascencia is the man! Sure, Jason Howard does do a great job, but FCO makes it magic with his spectacular colors. I’ve noticed lately that Invincible has been more violent and FCO achieves that here as well. Kirkman is great at reveals, but never before have the reveals been so devastating or plentiful. There are like 4 times in here when I yelled “Whoa!” or “Jebus!” or whatever popped into my shocked brain. After the slow pace in last issue, things seem to be moving at lightning speed. This book is worth reading!

Joker HC

“Oh My God! It’s The…” Joker (*****)

To hell with Scarecrow! The Joker is Batman’s scariest villain. This is the highly anticipated graphic novel by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. Most people are excited about this because of the new Batman movie and because this Joker looks so similar to Heath Ledger’s version. Take a look.

Just in case you haven’t heard it elsewhere, THIS IS NOT A SEQUEL TO THE DARK KNIGHT! Azzarello and Bermejo have been working on this for years. Bermejo talks about it here. Apparently, Bermejo has been working on this for two years (Wow!) which was before Ledger was even cast. The similarities are purely coincidental which is perfect for this book. Everyone will be thinking of Ledger and hear his voice when they read this. It sort of adds an element of madness, eh?

Madness is the name of the game here. This is a character study of the Joker and a new henchman, Johnny Frost. This graphic novel is heavily influenced by noir and everything is more realistic, or is it? What is reality when you deal with the Joker? But what I meant was there are very few costumes in here. Sure Harley, Croc, Penguin and Two-Face are included, but they have a different look. This isn’t what’s most unique about the comic though. I’ll get to that later.

I haven’t seen much of Bermejo’s art, but it’s very impressive in these pages. Especially considering the two years he put into this, if you’re a Bermejo fan, you need to pick this up because of the art alone. Besides looking pretty, the book’s look serves another purpose. There are two different styles in here. One is when Bermejo inks himself that adds a painted look in addition to being featured in the “important” scenes. The second look is when Mike Gray inks. This has a much more traditional feel to it. The original reason was to speed up the artistic process (Two years wasn’t enough) and to supposedly control the speed of the reader’s eyes. The idea was to have people slow down and look at the glorious Bermejo inked pages. Whatever the reason, this worked in favor of Joker. It adds another level of insanity and obscurity.

My main criticism of Bermejo’s art and probably of the entire book is the inability or choice to censor certain things while pushing almost too far in other areas. I’m sure you can guess what I’m referring too. The violence is very hard core and the language, nudity and even a damn middle finger is played down. Bermejo, in that aforementioned interview, takes the blame for it, but it could have very easily been DC’s decision. Though this “decision” isn’t too off-putting, nor does it detract from the overall quality of the book, it’s still annoying. If I didn’t see it all the time in comics (I just brought this up in a recent Daredevil review) I probably wouldn’t be as bothered.

Anyway, what impressed me the most about this book was its tone and dialogue. It’s so incredibly intriguing. This is one of those stories you can read over and over again. You’ll notice new things or react differently making each read something special. I hate to make assumptions, but I think the people who will dislike this story will be those who don’t absorb the subtleties. This isn’t a straightforward book. It’s bizarre, it’s realistic, it’s disturbingly humorous and disturbingly violent. I knew there was a reason why this book was called Joker.

Whew! That was exhausting! Oh well, it only comes once a year. I hope you all enjoyed reading this stuff and I’m sure you’re all scared now. I’m off to continue my horror movie marathon, up next? The Shinning!

Yeah it’s not comic related, so what? You enjoy your Blade while I enjoy my favorite horror film. Happy Halloween!

Foilball’s Review Roundup #59 – Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, The Tie-Ins!

Deadpool #3 (***1/2)

Not as good as 2, and way worse than 1. I hope this series has somewhere to go once the Invasion ends. Or maybe I don’t. Can I really afford another monthly?

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 (***1/2)

Wacky misunderstandings in space! Heh, but seriously, how the hell is Peter gonna convince all his buddies to come back and play nice? He basically brainwashed them! It would be pretty sweet if they all formed their own group and told Starlord to piss off.

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34 (**)

BORING. Is this what we should expect from the forthcoming War Machine ongoing? Perhaps I should adjust my pre-order?

Mighty Avengers #19 (*)

Complete waste as it failed at making me care about Marvel Boy. UGH. You can’t just go through the motions, Bendis, you actually have to write clever character stuff!

Secret Invasion: Frontline #4 (****)

Still the best tie-in. Do you get the feeling that maybe Ben Urich is gonna bite it at the end of this mini? I hope so. I like him, but he bugs me. Actually, Sally Floyd bugs me more. Kill her, Marvel!

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (****)

This issue makes me very excited about the direction Marvel is taking the Inhumans. The War of Kings story is going to be epic, people!

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds (***)

I started to read this, and then I got bored. Heh, maybe I’ll finish later…

Final Crisis: Revelations #3 (***)

I don’t really know how to feel about this comic. It’s well written, but I’m not sure if I like it. Is that weird?

Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (*****)

THIS WAS AWESOME! Those Rogues are some cold-blooded bastards, right! It’s interesting that Captain Cold thinks murdering Inertia makes up for murdering Bart Allen/Flash/Kid Flash/Impulse. I don’t think that’s how it works, dude. And, oh man, having the Rogues cringe at the possibility of the return of Barry Allen as the Flash really gets the mind buzzing for next year’s big flash event. As far as this being a tie-in to FC and not just a cash grab? FAIL. Sure, this mini explains why the Rogues opted out of Libra’s Society, but did anyone really care? That subplot was completely irrelevant to the main plot, that being the murder of Inertia. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this book just as much without all the FC hoopla.