I wanted so badly to like this book, but to no avail, because it’s pretty bad.
I wanted so badly to like this book, but to no avail, because it’s pretty bad.
Following a failed relaunch five years back from John Byrne, Doom Patrol returns, now with Keith Giffen and Matthew Clark at the helm. Doom Patrol has always been something of a tough sell – though they begin, much like Marvel’s ultra-successful X-Men franchise, as a group of misunderstood heroes whose powers set them apart from society, the similarity ends there. While the X-Men were almost all model-gorgeous people with awesome powers, the Doom Patrol’s powers were generally fairly limited, the source of their angst, and their physical appearances were often strange and off-putting to say the least. And while the Doom Patrol certainly have their own gallery of bizarre supervillains, they’re known as the team who deals with the stranger, far more dangerous issues, ones that no sane team would generally be willing to tackle.
Though the opening issue of the new series is a little mundane, Giffen at least seems to get that. This exchange…
Father: But what you’ve got here goes way past self-pity. They’ve stopped caring.
Caulder: Whether they live or die? That’s hardly news, Father. Truth be told, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for them to function effectively were they too concerned with their well-being.
… says a lot about what’s different about this team of heroes. It is a bit too blunt for my taste, as is the entire issue, which deals largely with the fall-out from a mission that ends badly within the first few pages, but it does a fair job at suggesting a possible mission-statement for the book to new readers.
The mission itself is displayed in a few action-packed pages, quite ably illustrated by Clark, but the effect of losing a pair of characters we know nothing about mere pages into the book is negligible at best, which in turn makes the emotional fall-out less gut-wrenching than it could have been. It’s a good way to introduce the team and see them in their element, but those hectic opening pages lacked punch.
Clark does a fine job throughout the issue. After the early pages, the remainder of the book deals with the fallout, but Clark’s facial expressions and body language throughout the issue does a respectable job of getting us beneath the skin of the Patrol as they are confronted each in turn by a young priest working with Caulder to counsel, and perhaps manipulate, the team.
Though it wasn’t the most exciting opening issue, I’ll stick with it. Giffen is clearly still in set-up mode and wants to introduce the team to new readers as quickly as possible so we can see what his book will be all about, but the last page set-up for next month’s story is intriguing, bizarre, and has a lot of potential. We’ll see what he does with it.
Of course, there’s sure to be another pull to the book, this time from the back-up feature. While the Metal Men have never had that much of a draw in and of themselves, the team that’s working on them – Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire – bring to the back-up a familiar sensibility, and a cult following, from their days together on a number of books, most notably Justice League International. The back-up is fast-paced and fun, setting up a dynamic for the team and introducing a new member in the form of Copper. It’s slight but humorous, and a solid addition to the book.
– Cal Cleary
Recently, lebeau looked over Reign in Hell #4, and while I agree with his comments in general, I felt like I had a decent not-quite-rant here on the subject, so while he contained himself quite sensibly to a single paragraph, I shall blather on indefinitely. Still, he said it first, and better, so go pat him on the back.
Some time ago, I reviewed the first issue of Keith Giffen’s Reign in Hell, a project that was pitched as “Annihilation for the magicians of DC.” And, for what it’s worth, DC seemed willing to play along, even printing a Reign in Hell Special that was just a reprint of three issues that tentatively led up to the series (which Reign in Hell didn’t really need and Batman R.I.P. absolutely did). And with that, the game was afoot…but I, like many others who read the book, failed to be wowed by the first real issue of the mini.
Now, some brief background. I count myself to have, if not a PhD, then at least a Master’s in comic book magic. This is one of the reasons why I’m so frustrated by Bendis every time I see him even approach Scarlet Witch or Doctor Strange, two characters he seems incapable of writing on a fundamental level. It also might be one of the reasons why I didn’t kiss a girl ‘til I was 19, but…uhhh…right, Reign in Hell.
I give you this humiliating background so that you will know the sense of bafflement I felt upon reading the first issue of the series, all aglow with excitement that my beloved comic book magicians were going to be more than bad deus ex machina or underpowered fodder, and had absolutely no idea who anyone was.
Part of this, is, of course, the art – the clear, crisp style that dominated much of Annihilation was here replaced by the stylish-but-scratchy pencils of Tom Derenick. Derenick is definitely a competent artist, but I got the feeling that he was being asked to do just way too much. A huge cast of characters that much of the world is unfamiliar with lends itself better towards a more mainstream talent…but still, as I read the series and grew accustomed to his art, it grew on me. I still wouldn’t have picked him as my first choice on the book, but he appears to be growing accustomed to the enormous amount of characters he has to introduce.
No, the main problem lies, of course, with others. In Annihilation, we were given the opportunity to get to know each of these characters before the main mini began. If you weren’t familiar with Drax by the beginning of Drax the Destroyer #1, you definitely were by the end, and the same went for all the other characters. By the time you got to the main mini, the extremely talented writing team there had already instilled in you an interest in the well-being of these characters.
With Reign in Hell, while we are helpfully provided with information about what province of Hell is currently being looked at, we are often not given the much more important knowledge of who, exactly, is speaking, nor are we given a terrific amount of backstory on any of these characters. Where Annihilation had a series of prologues that had us aching for the conclusion, Reign in Hell throws us right into the middle of the fight and leaves us to puzzle out why, instead of demons, there are robots everywhere, or why the few demons there are all seem to be chowing down on a cigar at all times.
Of course, the obvious solution would’ve been to make it the event that Annihilation was, but I don’t honestly even know if that would’ve worked. The youth of today are decidedly jaded when it comes to magic, an embarrassingly stupid fact when you realize that they’re totally cool with a guy with a half-ton of metal welded to his spine and super-healing…as long as it’s sciencey metal, and this book features a rather enormous cast of magicians in a Hell, a very sciencey Hell, that I don’t recall seeing anywhere else, ever…including in DC.
There’s a problem I had with Reign in Hell, though, beyond the quibbles about the art and the lack of character labels, and that’s the fact that we’ve seen it all before, but better. Mike Carey’s Lucifer has been over for precisely how long at this point? I know it didn’t take place in DC, but let’s face it, it pretty much took place in DC, the same way Sandman pretty much took place in DC. It ignored all the cruddy bits, told its own story, but it was published by DC and it featured, I’m sorry to say, a set of vastly more-interesting pro- and antagonists since it was cut blessedly free of restraints on continuity and offered a morally twisty tale that mainstream comics tend to abhor…or, as is the case in Reign in Hell, tend to ignore.
Now, for all my rants, I can’t deny that there has been a single glimmer of sheer awesome in the series, and that’s the shockingly strong back-ups. I know, I know – how often is the back-up of a comic anything other than a gimmick to raise the price of the issue so they can give you a three-page origin story and then laugh at you as you realize that you don’t actually have a choice, you have to pay for those extra three pages.
But, no, here Giffen does what I suspect Giffen does best – makes me care about a character I know virtually nothing about. The adventures of Doctor Occult and Peri through Hell are charming and exciting, a great introduction to the characters and exploration of the setting, EXACTLY what I was looking for. In fact, I think on some alternate world, they’re getting a vastly superior Reign in Hell as a series of story’s like Occult’s – not gigantic war epics, but the personal stories of characters we could love…or love to hate.
And, of course, in rant mode, I’m being unfair. Giffen and co. have done a decent job with Reign in Hell and, looking over the single issues of #1-4, they read notably better together than they did alone, making them a worthy purchase for anyone interested in the mystics of the DCU. Knowing the harsh Vertigo curtain, I’m certain that Giffen was hampered by not being allowed to use the excellent introduction of Hell we saw in Sandman or any elements whatsoever of the gorgeous fleshing out of Hell in Lucifer.
But, when it comes right down to it, whatever the reasons, Reign in Hell has thus far seemed to be largely a wasted opportunity. Maybe he just set expectations up a little too high with comparisons to the much more fleshed-out Annhiliation, or maybe the cards just weren’t right this time, but in the end, Reign in Hell is a competent book that lacks the sense of wonder, exploration, and depth that it needed to give the book a fighting chance. It’s still a decent read, but, ultimately, there’s just so much that isn’t there that I mourn for.
Green Lantern Corps #27 (****)
I continue to love this book, and I continue to love how absolutely sick and twisted the Sinestro Corps are in their torturing of the Green Lanterns. The raining eyeballs scene was just chilling and creepy and disgusting and vile and evil in the “we’re going to get you by going through your family” approach from Evil Bastards 101. But I really like the little character moments and asides, which in this issue takes the form of Guy and Kyle opening up an American style restaurant on Oa. And an issue like this really nails down why I prefer GLC to the solo book. The Corps is so much more than Hal Jordan. And I know he’s not the only character in the book, but he gets 99.9% of the face time. I like the rest of the Corps just as much as Hal, and I’m glad I have my team book to rely on.
Ambush Bug: Year None #2 (***1/2)
This book is basically a run of complete non sequitur that may or may not kinda sorta have a plot maybe. Giffen is not holding anything back in the plotting, as the book just skips from scene to scene without the need of internal continuity or transitions (there’s a pretty long manga style interlude in the middle of the book that is completely unexplained) in order to set up the situations the Bug is going to lampoon. And then the metrosexual Galactus shows up (“I’ve brought SWAAAATCHEEEEEEZZZZ!”) and I think my brain kinda…broke. But not in a bad way. I really wonder exactly how and where these ideas came from and what it took for Giffen to rip these ideas out of the ether and put them into the plot. This book is SO strange and SO bizarre and random and all over the place that it just sorts of bulldozes you with the weirdness to the point that you just let it take you in and go with the flow. It’s worth a read just to experience it, but I know this’ll turn people off.
DC Universe: Last Will and Testament (*****)
I’m such a sucker for Brad Meltzer. And I don’t even give a damn about Geo Force. I kinda knew who he was from the perspective of his being a member of the Outsiders, and I think I knew he had some connection to Markovia. But one book made me care. And made me understand just who this guy was, what his motivations were and where he was coming from. It’s the exact same thing I dug about Identity Crisis. And we’ve got the same narrative style running through the book that makes everything breathe and move in a fluid fashion. And yeah, Meltzer’s got a thing for Deathstroke, but he writes him well. And that goes a long way to make me accept it. I love the narrative, I love the dialogue, I love that combined sense of danger and inevitable dread that frames the Geo Force story. It’s out there on its own little island with the sole purpose of telling a good story in 48 pages and getting the hell out of Dodge. And I think it succeeds marvelously at that goal. I’m also going to state for the record that I don’t care that it doesn’t sync up with Final Crisis continuity for one simple reason: IT’S NOT A FINAL CRISIS TIE IN BOOK. It’s not the Final Crisis cover style. It doesn’t mention Final Crisis anywhere. It wasn’t solicited as a Final Crisis book. All we get is some vague references to a grand battle that everyone assumes is from Final Crisis, but it’s never stated that way. There’s no mention of New Gods or Anti Life or any of that stuff. It’s a separate book from Final Crisis and should be treated as such. And it’s another winner. I really need to finish getting his JLA issues so I can sit down and read them.
Yes, I actually got some books that aren’t from the House of Ideas. And here they are.
Comic Book Comics #2 (*****)
Fred Van Lente is a guy you’ve probably heard of by now. Cowriter of The Incredible Hercules, upcoming writer of Marvel Zombies 3, Mr. Marvel Adventures. He’s all over the place. But Evil Twin Comics is where he puts out his best work. Comic Book Comics is another book that is chock full of edutainment in the same way the first issue and Action Philosophers were. This issue covers the war years of comics, hashing out the way superheroes died out to be replaced by Romance and Western comics, as well as the rise of EC’s slate of horror and science fiction books. Van Lente’s writing remains informative without becoming stale, which is always a tough thing to do when there is this much text that I guess could technically be considered “exposition.” And considering that there is no “host” character to lead us through, it’s all on Van Lente’s ability to walk the tightrope of being informative, funny, and generally not boring. Ryan Dunlavey’s art helps make the job easier with his breezy and cartoony style that effectively enhances the text without becoming intrusive or overtly flashy. I mean this is, for all intents and purposes, a kind of mini textbook. The stylization really helps note the differing ways folks were making comics back then while still allowing for the visual jokes to come through, like the Human Torch vs. Namor comics of the 1940’s being depicted as a jug of water and a lit match squaring off in a boxing ring, or the recurring theme of two unsupervised kids having a conversation while it is plain to see their parents having sex through a window right above them (“There are strange moans and creaking noises coming from mom and dad’s room!” “Must be S.S. code! We better warn Cap!”). The book takes us right up to the beginnings of The Seduction of the Innocent and Frederick Wertham’s attack on the comics industry, which is something I’m very much looking forward to reading from the point of view of these two crazy cats. This is a great read, and October couldn’t come sooner.
Ambush Bug: Year None #1(***1/2)
It’s not necessarily what I expected from this series going in. The only Ambush Bug I’ve actually read is his brief appearance in 52, so I think I was expecting a much more over the top and slapsticky sort of fourth wall breaking lunacy. Which is not to say that what I got was bad, but it was certainly different. The conceit is basically to parody the plot and tone of Identity Crisis, and I did love the way that Giffen poked fun at Meltzer’s repetition style in the caption boxes. I don’t know how much there is to say, really. I enjoyed it, got some laughs out of it, dug the art, looking forward to seeing it continue. It was a solid first issue. Nothing was blow away brilliant, nothing sucked. A bit middle of the road, but nothing that I regretted buying or reading.
Green Lantern Corps #26 (****)
I really enjoyed the Black Mercy/Ring Quest storyline. I like Mongul about as much as one can like a copy of a copy (by way of Thanos by way of Darkseid), and the Mother Mercy concept and how she viewed the purpose of the Black Mercy was certainly not the angle I expected them to take, and I think it worked in the favor of Peter Tomasi. And while it could be seen as cheesy to some, I did get a kick out of both rings picking the same successor (makes you wonder how fast both of those things would search out Batman if someone from Earth’s sector bit it), and while I think the decision was handled a bit too neatly, it still worked. Bzzt dies a hero, things are set to continue moving forward, and I still have my tiny thread of Green Lanterny goodness to hold onto until Geoff Johns returns to the here and now.
True Believers #1
I wasn’t familiar with the writer/artist team-up – Cary Bates and Paul Gulacy – but the book was conceptually interesting, so I picked it up.
“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” That’s the tagline of the book. Now, whether or not it truly is a time of universal deceit in the Marvel Universe is a matter of debate, but between the genetics-based Civil War and the secretive Skrull Invasion, there’s no question that there’s a whole lot of lying going on in the Marvel Universe right now. The True Believers know that, and they want to get the truth out there, whatever the cost.
The first issue deals with an underground chick-fighting/rape/drug ring. A young metahuman code-named Payback has gone undercover to find out who’s in charge and break the story, regardless of the cost. With her is her ‘news team’, a group of potent metahumans with technology so far from the future it can baffle even SHIELD’s investigative prowess, she finds out who’s behind the ring, breaks it up, and then reports on it.
That part in the middle there was my main gripe with the book. There had better be a damn good explanation forthcoming for how a group of underground journalists have the tech – and the powers – the escape SHIELD, but haven’t been noticed by anything yet, never stepped up during a war based on genetic persecution, never targeted Stark’s war-profiteering, the Illuminati, anything.
Still, ignoring that (and a fairly ridiculous last page), the book was quite good. The characters’ goals and operations are interesting, and underground journalism – digging into the seediest side of the Marvel Universe – makes for an interesting change of pace from the standard superhero fare.
I’ve never heard of Kieron Gillen, the writer. Literally, never heard of him. And yet, somehow, his single issue of NewUniversal, the Warren Ellis-masterminded relaunch of the failed 80’s New Universe project for Marvel Comics, has blown any single issue Ellis gave the series thus far completely out of the water.
This issue deals with America’s first recorded meeting with super-humanity. It evokes all the paranoia towards mutants that mainstream Marvel wants to evoke – the difference, of course, is that in NewUniversal: Everything Went White and NewUniversal: 1959, it works.
In 1959, the sky world-around was lit by something eventually titled ‘The Fireworks’. The next day, things changed. Drifter Lester Robbins gained the ability to instantly teleport. Veronica Kelly, Kansas City widow, seemed to be able to read minds, and could create and control deadly blue blades. Alcoholic slacker Tony Stark could create and understand technology decades ahead of what he should have been able to. None of them had had these abilities before The Fireworks.
The book does not follow those metahumans, however, but instead follows rookie government agent Philip Voight, familiar to those who have read Everything Went White, but this is as good an introduction to the character as anything. The decision to stay with him, rather than the heroes, definitely adds to the sense that super-humanity truly is a different species than traditional humanity – especially as the agents observe the relationship between Lester and Veronica, a bizarre cat-and-mouse game that appears wholly alien to the human agents.
I cannot recommend the NewUniversal line highly enough, and 1959 is an excellent place to start if you just want to try out a single issue.
Reign in Hell #1
Giffen has been billing this as a supernatural Annihilation. Both series’ were written by him, after all. And both deal with a previously largely-ignored but enormously important segment of each Universe’s mythology. Rather than a series of warm-up minis leading up to a main mini, here Giffen went for a single miniseries with a selection of back-ups to set the stage. Otherwise, it’s largely similar.
And like Annihilation, it doesn’t read well in single-issue form. The story begins with an all-out battle in hell for a structure called The Odium, and it fills you in as you go. Lord Satanus and Lady Blaze, currently in charge of Purgatory, are tired of a system of eternal damnation, a system with no mediums and no forgiveness – or that’s what they’re telling people – and so they’ve led all the souls of Purgatory into Hell in an attempt to retake and reshape Hell. Opposing them is Neron, current leader of Hell.
But that is, of course, not the whole of the conflict. What happens here will reshape how magic works all over the DC Universe, and so many of the mystic and divine heroes and villains of the DC Universe have a stake in this as well. In this issue, we see the Shadowpact, the return of Linda Danvers (albeit a fairly out-of-character Linda Danvers), Jason Blood, The Creeper, Zauriel, and Zatanna’s dead father, Giovanni Zatara.
The back-up – easily the most entertaining part of the book – features Ralph and Sue Dibny, Ghost Detectives, in a meeting to convince Dr. Occult just how important this is. The back-up is slow, but well-written, and is great set-up for what is to come, as well as back-story on the little-used Dr. Occult.
The issue is largely set-up, and reads like the more boring parts of Annihilation, but like Annihilation, the struggle promises to be epic. Let’s hope Giffen can deliver, but a slow opening issue, combined with fairly average art from Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz, don’t make the best start you could hope for.
Hello again. Long-time no review. I’ve been reading a lot of comics, though. That, I have been doing. Here are some of them.
Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1
FC: RR was up there with Legion of Three Worlds and Requiem as the minis I wasn’t particularly excited for. I’m not a big fan of Geoff Johns at all. Still, I enjoyed Rogue War alright from his Flash run, and the I have generally enjoyed his take on the Rogues in general. Given all that they’ve been through lately, I thought it would be interesting to see how this has changed them all.
Rogues’ Revenge turned out to be pretty well-handled all around. The art is average, but Johns’ characterization of the Rogues is rock-solid as always as we see them ready to retire, turning down the offer of Libra’s Secret Society in favor of retirement and a life outside the public eye. An inciting event keeps them in costume, of course, and sets them on a collision course with Professor Zoom and Inertia and, I suspect, Wally and Barry. The issue doesn’t have a lot of twists and turns, but it’s solid set-up for a mini-series, and I hope that the next issues live up to this one.
Madame Xanadu #1-2
Madame Xanadu is one of Vertigo’s newest books, the first using mainstream DC characters in quite some time, as it tells the origin of characters like Madame Xanadu, The Demon Etrigan, and (okay, not the origin, but early uses of) the Phantom Stranger. The book, beginning at the twilight of Camelot, is okay – but nothing special. And that’s the key phrase when describing the book so far. Nothing special. The art is solid, the writing is solid, the story is solid, but nothing stands out as particularly worth it, especially when we’ve already gotten a much more impressive ‘fall of Camelot’ in Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight.
Ultimately, the story tries to have a few twists. Nimue – who we are led to believe will become Madame Xanadu – did not betray Merlin, but instead was a pawn in the evil, maniacal manipulations of a mad mage as he tried to gain immortality. But the changes ring hollow, made, seemingly, to make us more sympathetic to Nimue. And if you have to change the myth so completely to make us sympathetic to a character, why use that myth in the first place? Beginning Madame Xanadu at the fall of Camelot was an interesting choice, but so far, not one that has had any sort of pay-off within the story. I’m hoping it does in future issues, though, because Madame Xanadu only has one issue left to impress me.
Captain Britain and MI:13 #1-3
Now THIS is what a tie-in should be like. This has nothing to do with the main story – but it could. If the heroes here fail, then it will completely change the main battlefield over in the American-based books. This isn’t just an extension of that story – you don’t have to be reading this, there aren’t any HUGE REVEALS, and this isn’t where the back-story is. It is, however, an entertaining and well-illustrated book dealing with interesting characters stuck in a terrible situation.
When it comes to Secret Invasion, for me, this is the place to be.
Ambush Bug: Year None #1
Ambush Bug is another Keith Giffen project created long ago to satirize the industry and long-since forgotten. This book is Giffen’s way of mocking the recent grimness of the DC Universe, the pomp of their SUPER HUGE EVENTS, and certain trends in modern comics. While parts of it are genuinely hilarious and clever satire of the industry – the main story of the issue is the murder of Jonni DC (DC’s oft-ignored kids line is called Johnny DC, and comics are becoming more and more violent), there are a number of small, clever touches, such as a few fourth wall breaking moments, Ambush Bug’s part in Identity Crisis, and just try and count how many dead women litter the pages of the comic. But, in the end, it’s just trying too hard to be funny, going for the easy laugh as often as not. It’s like modern Saturday Night Live – it strikes solid gold every so often, but you have to slog through the mediocrity to get there.
Wonder Woman #22
The penultimate chapter in the current Wonder Woman arc, this one definitely picks up the pace as we finally meet Wonder Woman’s nemesis here, a extra-universal devil who has been demolishing planets and universes. Stranded from her allies, betrayed, the arc features a few twists, but more than that, it features a few great moments between Stalker and Wonder Woman. The issue is funny, exciting, and just a little dark. All-around solid.
The Immortal Iron Fist: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven
All I can say is, David Aja might be one of the best artists in the industry today when it comes to action scenes, but he’s also a solid all-around talent, one well worth watching. And teaming him up with Matt Fraction? That’s a match made in heaven, as the first arc, The Last Iron Fist Story, proved. This, the second arc on the series, isn’t quite as good as the first one, largely due to a sad lack of focus – and an even sadder lack of awesome ass-kickery. I had hoped to see a little more of the tournament than we did, but what we got was solid gold, and the main story-line of a revolution in heaven was equally well-handled.
Easily, the weakest part of the trade was the Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1 put right in the middle. While the story it contains is certainly important, the art was an extreme departure from Aja’s quality work that came off stiff and wooden – which certainly hurts action books. The story was long, and while it’s always great to see Orson again, this was the weak link.
Still, when the cards are down, Immortal Iron Fist offers unparalleled action, great banter, amazing panel layout (you know it’s either really good or really bad when you have to stop and notice it), and an excellent supporting cast. If any of you aren’t reading this, you should be.
Ok, Carol is definitely a Skrull. Shoot, how the heck did you expect them to react when you come charging out of the sun with your team, shouting about surrender? Ditzy broad! Obviously, there will be a fight! Moving on, was anyone else as intrigued by the Steve and Tony scenes as I was? You could smell Ross and Kruger’s outrage over the events of the last couple of years:
And then, Tony hesitates… The “I do, Widow” was the perfect response to Black Widow telling him that Cap is a reasonable guy and that they should be able to explain everything once the Invaders are in custody. This is such a fanboy moment. If you only read it from the angle that Widow is right, that Cap is a reasonable guy, then you totally miss that Tony is really saying, “I do know that he’s Captain America, the same Captain America whose trust I bitterly betrayed. Oh, the humanity!” JOYGASM!
Heh, did you guys notice Namor in the background tossing Wonder Man into Ares? Heh. Also, the New Avengers ain’t taking this shit lying down!
…oh, we got a problem! Space-time damage imminent!
Batman: Detective Comics #845 (****)
Since when does Batman get so much action? Zatanna, Catwoman and Jezebel Jet? How does one man choose?
Paul Dini is such a great writer when he’s left alone to do his own thing, but alas, this issue semi-firmly establishes a continuity between this book and Morrison’s Batman. Why? Why is this necessary at all? Oh, so we can have yet another crappy crossover like The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul. I hate you DC editorial. You make good writers do bad things. I wonder how Badly Dini is chafing under Morrison’s manifesto? First he had to try and build up to the Morrison penned Final Crisis with Countdown, and now, he has to tie-in to the “bad trip” that is Batman: RIP. Poor bastard. Still, each issue of Detective has been a wonderful distraction and I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed Dini’s series of one-shot tales more than Morrison’s conspiracy laden Batman.
Justice Society of America #16 (*****)
A pause for awesome…
Midnighter #20 (*****)
Why did they wait till the very last issue to give us this? Wow. I bet if each issue of Midnighter was this psychotic, it wouldn’t have been cancelled. What a waste. I feel like this book never really got off the ground, even with the fun Hitler story Ennis wrote to open the series. My take on Midnighter is that he’s basically Batman if Batman actually acted the way a man like Batman would actually act. Get me? He’s Batman from the Bob Kane era with a modern S&M twist. We’ve seen hints of this before, in Authority, and I expected that version of the character to receive further exploration in this ongoing. But unfortunately, it doesn’t really happen till this, the final issue. As I said, what a waste.
• 100 Bullets #92 (****): Wow, everything we thought we knew is slowly falling apart. Minuteman betrays Minuteman. Graves is playing a new game. Very exciting.
• Captain Britain and MI13 #2 (*****): Even better than the first issue and the best looking Super Skrull to date on the last page. AH! Why can’t SI be like this?
• Eternals #1 (***): I’m in the camp that Neil Gaiman’s Eternals was a bit overrated… I still enjoyed this “relaunch” well enough, but I’m not sure I’ll be picking it up past the first arc. It just didn’t grab me.
• Invincible #50 (***): Anti-Climactic describes it well I think. Overpirced and under-storied is another way to put it. Shit, that cover screams ultra-violent mayhem. What we actually get doesn’t even come close. Also, I hate Science Dog… and is it just me, or is Science Dog purposefully stealing from Tom Strong?
• Nova #14 (***1/2): The fight was really cool, but then halfway through the issue we’re forced back to the planet to deal with the lame-ass Harrow. Ugh.
• The Punisher: Little Black Book #1 (***): I was fooled by the Dave Johnson cover. It was a fine read, but why was this story necessary.
• Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? #1 (****1/2): This was really, REALLY good. Even the Agents of Atlas story. My only complaint is that this book should have released the week of or after issue #2 of the main mini. Most of these stories deal with the subplots of #1 and #2 of SI, so it was kind of annoying to have to wait so long to get some development. It was only a month, by time is of the essence with these event books. Losing momentum sucks.
With all the Annihilating Conquests, Final Crises, Secret Invasions and Counting Down, it appears that a couple of summer events have gotten lost in the shuffle. Namely, DC/Wildstorm Dreamwar and Number of the Beast. So, I thought I’d shine a little light on the Wildstorm universe and its summer spectaculars.
First, Dreamwar. Confession: I had literally no idea what this thing was about when I ordered it. I saw Keith Giffen’s name and I was in. He is the man responsible for Annihilation and the revitalization of Marvel’s cosmic heroes… why not go in blind? But after reading the first issue, I still have no idea what the hell is going on! We get very little in the way of explanation. All we do know for sure is that the DCU heroes from the Silver Age (I think) have invaded the Wildstorm Universe. All the major Wildstorm U characters and teams are present: The Authority, Stormwatch, Mr. Majestic, The Wildcats, Gen 13… even the old fogies from Tranquility make an appearance. But still, no idea what the heck a “Dreamwar” is. Usually this would send me packing, but it’s Giffen so I’ll stick it out. I trust the man. I can’t really recommend this yet, but I can definitely give it a “wait and see.”
The next chapter in the biggest Wildstorm event since forever takes place over in Number of the Beast. The story continues from the “TBZ-Approved” Wildstorm Revelations mini, and before that, the Gage penned Armageddon one-shots. Armageddon and Revelations, especially Revelations, were good enough to get me to order this 8-part bi-weekly epic, so this mother-effer better deliver. I don’t really have an opinion on Scott Beatty’s writing one way or the other, but I love Chris Sprouse. It’s so nice to see him penciling again. Just like with Dreamwar, I’m a bit confused by the first issue. I think I’ve figured out that the characters in this book are forgotten heroes from the Golden Age, but I’m not sure how this relates to the current Wildstorm U. Are these character trapped inside some kind of “bubble world”, like the Weapon Plus facility from Morrison’s X-Men run? I don’t know. Is this an apocalypse for Wildstorm? I JUST DON’T KNOW… I could read up on it, hit the forums, but I kind of want to be surprised this time. Like, we already know so much about Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, it kind of spoils them. It’s like when a movie trailer shows you all the cool or funny parts and then you see the movie and you realize you just wasted 10 bucks because everything cool or funny was in the trailer, and trailers are free. But even with the confusion I liked it all the same. And as far as this “forgotten Golden Age heroes” fad goes, this book is tons better than Project Superpowers and almost as cool as The Twelve. I just really like these characters. And The High is back? AWESOME. I’m definitely sticking it out and look forward to the next bi-weekly installment. And as soon as I figure it out, I’ll clue ya’ll in. Promise.
We got ourselves two summer events from Wildstorm which makes three total from DC. If you’re sick of all the hype surrounding Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, you may want to give one of these events a shot. Especially Number of the Beast… it appears to have the most potential for awesome. And pick up Wildstorm Revelations when it trades, it’s definitely worth a look.