Reviews: Week of 17 March 2010

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From the “Better late than never…” file, I am finally getting around to the reviews of last week’s four-color haul.  So, without further delay…

Batman #697

Batman and crew face off against Black Mask’s army of thugs. Army? “Horde” would probably be a more apt description. The face of Black Mask is finally revealed; I can’t really say that I saw it coming but after reading, it made sense. Batman (Dick Grayson) comes to… terms, of a sort… with Catwoman and also with the weight of the mantle of The Bat.

Green Lantern Corps #46

It’s double-date-a-rama in the Corps! Unfortunately, Lanterns Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner’s dates are… well… dead. And they’re Black Lanterns. That’s got to put a kibosh on the good night kiss. This book also gets a thumbs-up and an okay from me for a well-placed Tholian Web reference, from Guy Gardner. The Anti-Monitor puts in an appearance and is introduced to Sinestro Corps member Bedrovian and nominal Teen Titan Dove. And a bullet. A very big bullet.

Spider-Woman #7

Unfortunately, this was the last issue of what was a really good book.  But, Bendis and Maleev go out with a bang:

I know what you’re thinking: Okay, Spider-Woman versus a big, giant Super-Skrull. This’ll be fun. We saw her do this before. We know she’s about to be the holy Hell out of this guy.

*Super-Skrull zaps her*

Well, I hate to break it to you, but the last skull I went up against had been tortured by professional torturers. It had been starved and beaten.

That Skrull was out of it and it still took everything I had to beat it.

This guy — this guy is military-trained.
Ready to go.
Fired-up.

And maybe a little drunk.

Let’s not forget the drunk.

*Super-Skrull zaps her*

Ow! I think the deciding factor on how badly I’m about to get my ass kicked all depends on just how drunk he is.

*Super-Skrull zaps her*

Oh, man… Okay.  I’m not being defeatist. I’m being realistic.  He’s just got the goods on me.  I don’t know what I was thinking coming here.

Super-Skrull: “Do you want to know why our queen chose your form?  Do you want to know why she knew she could replace you?

“The reason we knew you could be switched out for one of us… is that of all the people in the world… we discovered that no one on this entire planet cares enough about you to notice you at all.

“And of all the things that went wrong with our invasion… that was the one thing we were absolutely right about.”

Ouch. Talk about kicking a woman when she’s down. Reading Jessica Drew exorcise some of her personal demons AND track down rogue Skrulls has been a fun ride. And, fortunately, readers will be able to read more of her adventures in the upcoming “reboot” of The New Avengers.

Supergirl #51

Brainiac’s attack on New Krypton continues. The Legion are put under arrest… and resist.  Connor (Superboy)… attacks Supergirl’s mother, Alura… and Kara comes charging to the rescue. The best panel of the issue was the last one — a picture of Kara, Connor and the LSH flying off to take the fight to Brainiac, done in a manner that pays homage to Alex Ross’ classic picture:

Superman 80 page giant

This was an anthology of Superman-related stories.  Among the stand-outs in this issue were:

  • “Cold” — A story of a young Clark Kent and Jonathan Kent, this was a good father-son story.
  • “Superman Is My Co-pilot” — A young agorophobe thinks that he was saved by Superman during a robot attack… and goes from one extreme to another. Literally. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
  • “Five Minutes” — Clark waits for Lois to show up for a dinner date.
  • “On Break” — A different look at a Superman/Bizarro fight

Project: Rooftop

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“Superheroes, Redesigned”
That is how Project: Rooftop describes itself. In greater detail, it has this to say on its “About” page:

Project: Rooftop is where cartoonists and illustrators bring their costume design skills to task in tribute to the superheroes and villains we’ve grown up with. This site is intended to promote the idea of superhero costume redesigning as a skill, specific to superhero media. We also aim to foster continued interest for these amazing characters and spotlight up-and-coming creators.

For more information about the site — and to see the artwork therein — click here: Project: Rooftop.

Indie Writer Tells an H.P. Lovecraft Story… for Kids?

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Newsarama writer Lan Pitts interviews Bruce Brown, author of a graphic novel “about” H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos:

H.P Lovecraft and children. Usually the two don’t go hand in hand, but we’ve stumbled upon a rare occurance. Bruce Brown’s OGN, Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom published by Arcana, re-invisions Lovecraft’s dark world through a rather unique lens and hands the nightmarish universe off a much younger audience than you would expect.

To read the full article, click here.

“How DID Lois afford that apartment, anyway?”

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Mark Avila takes a look back at 1978’s Superman and comes away with a question that eluded my then-young mind (not to mention my adult mind, given subsequent viewings of the film): Where was Lois Lane’s Apartment in ‘Superman: The Movie?’

Over at Life’s Little Mysteries, a new site by Newsarama parent company TechMediaNetwork, Mike has put together some surprising figures for all you non-New Yorkers out there, showing that Lois’ apartment has a little bit of history — and  a whole lot of moolah.

To read the rest of the Newsarama article, click here.
To read the Life’s Little Mysteries article, click here.

Diamond Launches Kids Comic Shop Locator at kidscomics.com

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Diamond is pleased to announce the launch of a new website and comic shop locator aimed at directing kids and parents to kid-friendly comic shops across the United States and Canada.

The new site at kidscomics.com features a variety of news, info, and fun activities on comics and graphic novels geared directly to kids ages 4 to 11 — and older fans who are kids at heart!

For more information, click here.

Reviews: Week of 10 March 2010

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Action Comics #887

Nightwing and Flamebird take on Jax-Ur and his proto-Rao. Yeah. Let’s just say that they seem a little outgunned. “A little.” But, that doesn’t stop them from trying.  Lois Lane calls in a lot of markers to follow the action and to file a story about the truth behind “the “Kryptonian menace.”  It was nice to see that someone remembers that Lois is actually a journalist… and one with interests other than just airing Lex Luthor’s dirty laundry.

Batgirl #8 / Red Robin #10

Stephanie and Tim: Together again. Kind of. Tim’s still a bit pig-headed about seeing Steph in a costume… esp. a Bat-costume. He’s also apparently unwilling to accept that she’s up to the job… until seeing her take down one of Ra’s al Ghul’s top assassins. Quickly and efficiently.  All this and Vicki Vale.  And, who are “The Twelve?”  (Hint: It’s not the same “Twelve” that Apocalypse was trying to round up.)

Batman and Robin #10

Dick, Damian and Alfred attempt to unravel clues as to the whereabouts (when-abouts?) of Bruce Wayne. And, remember that little trick that Lex Luthor used on Connor Kent a few years back? Talia does/did the same thing to Damian, it seems. That bodes ill.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #14

Vril Dox (Brainiac 2), R.E.B.E.L.S. and the Omega Men go toe-to-toe with Starro. Of course, Dox has a plan.  He built a gun, specifically designed to eliminate Starro’s link to his slaves, and gave it to guest star Adam Strange:

For an archeologist from New Jersey, I find myself fighting cosmic monsters, mad gods and alien tyrants an awful lot.

But this one takes the cake. Starro the Conqueror, a cosmic Genghis Khan who already rules nine galaxies and aims to enslave every sentient mind in the universe.

On my side are Despero of Kalanor and Vril Dox of Colu. It tells you how scary Starro is that i’ve thrown in with such creeps.

And my name?  It’s…

Despero: ADAM STRANGE!  What in the Seven Hells are you waiting for?!

I’m not waiting, Despero.
I’m aiming.

Dox is a super-genius. He forged this weapon to cut off Starro from the zillions of his mind-slaves that are the source of his power.

Strange: *fires gun… with no apparent affect to Starro*

But even the smartest man in space gets it wrong once in a while.

Starro: And what exactly was that supposed to accomplish?
Strange: You got a Plan B?
Dox: We call in the others… and hope we get lucky.

Of course, since we’re dealing with Brainiac 2, it’s a fairly safe bet that “luck” has little to do with it. And, as a casual aside: If you happen to be a Psion and have a lab full of Starrophyte slaves that you’ve pretty much turned into lab rats, whatever you do: Don’t let Starro find out. He gets “a little” touchy about that.

Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #1

Brainiac’s ship appears over the skies of New Krypton. As Shirley Bassey and the Propellorheads would say, “It’s just a little bit of history repeating…”  However, this time it would appear that General Zod has a plan.  Added bonus: The Legion Espionage Squad and Superboy arrive to help.  But, a bit question is left at the end of the story: Who is Brainiac’s new playmate?

S.W.O.R.D. #5

The Drenx invasion kicks into high gear.  Agent Brand and Beast, fighting off dozens of Drenx, race to the Control Room to help Lockheed against Drenx invaders… only to find a wrecked room, many defeated Drenx and Lockheed splinting his forepaw.

Beast: You have changed, my friend. You know that?
Lockheed: [Unintelligible]
Beast: What did he say?
Brand: It’s untranslatable. And physically impossible for humans. Let’s go.

One of the best two-page spreads involve Beta Ray Bill… and a mop, but not in the way you think. (Yes, yes, it’s all “Rated: PG” and “politically correct, don’t worry.) And, Agent Brand makes a deal with Henry Peter Gyrich.

Christopher Nolan takes flight with Superman: ‘We have a fantastic story’

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The L.A. Times has an article with Christopher Nolan about his involvement with a reboot of the Superman franchise:

The topic at the Batcave on Monday night was the future of that other superhero — you, know, the one from Metropolis. “It’s very exciting, we have a fantastic story,” Christopher Nolan said while sipping tea in the sleek editing suite that fills the converted garage adjacent to his Hollywood home. “And we feel we can do it right. We know the milieu, if you will, we know the genre and how to get it done right.”

For the rest of the article, click here.

Reviews: Week of 03 March 2010

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This week’s comics haul was light. Very light. Three (3) comics light, in fact. Yeah… THAT light. But, there were comics to be read, and I read them. So, here’s the take on this week’s reads:

Adventure Comics #8 (#511) – When I saw the cover to this issue, I smiled. A lot. Why…?

That’s right, it’s a Legion cover. Suffice if to say: They had my attention early with this one. Inside, there were three stories: The main story, with two foci — one in the 31st Century, one in the 21st Century and the backup story, which tells the tale of [SPOILER DELETED]‘s true role within Project: 7734.

The Legion story starts in the 31st Century with Brainiac 5. Over the years, Brainy has proven himself to be one of the – if not THE – most intelligent sentients in the United Planets. (I wouldn’t say he’s always the “smartest,” but everyone has their flaws.) In the first three pages of the story, we learn what the Brainiac title means to him and how he came to have it:

I didn’t get to choose my name.

My mother named me Querl Dox, after her great, great grandfather who was lost while mining Colu’s moon.

My father also chose a family name for me. One that made me a target.

As a child, I knew that “Brainiac” was a family name that hadn’t been used for generations. I didn’t know why. I quickly learned.

Brainiac 1 was my great, great, great, great, great grandfather, on my father’s side. He lived a thousand years ago, the most knowledgeable being in the universe. He should’ve been someone I looked up to. Inspiration for a small boy who needed it.

But, Brainiac 1 was flawed. He didn’t earn that knowledge through hard work or study. He stole it. Brainiac crossed the universe a hundred times over, kidnapping races and bottling them up so he could feed off their information, like some parts of our culture.

He was nothing more than a thought-thief…

…and my father had given me his cursed name.

After studying at the Time Institute, I begrudgingly joined the team, trying to do right by the name “Brainiac.” I’ve come to accept my name — even enjoy it’s implication.

It says exactly what I want it to say–

–that I know everything.

With three pages and a little expository back-story, Sterling Gates fills in volumes of information about Brainiac 5, most of which hasn’t really been touched in the past fifty years of Legion lore.

At this point, we see the Legion attempting a rescue mission: Saving scientists on a research outpost from a rift in space. Brainiac 5 soon discovers that the rift is a temporal anomaly anchored back in…

…the 21st Century portion of this story begins to fill in some of the gaps as to “why” certain members of the Legion Espionage Squad are in the past and why they have been tailing Superboy and Mon-El. It also serves as a tie to the LES’ role in the upcoming Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton.

All-in-all, it was a good issue. A lot of threads — including some from the JLA/JSA crossover, “The Lightning Saga” — are starting to be tied up.

Justice League: Cry for Justice #7 (of 7) – Prometheus (gagged and bound) versus the team comprised of members of the Justice League and the Justice Society. Sounds like a pretty unfair fight. You’re right. And, what’s possibly more surprising: Prometheus is winning.

This issue – this series, even – helps to cement Prometheus’ credibility as a truly dangerous threat, not just to the League, but to the everyday citizens of the DCU. He proves to be a strategist of Batman-like caliber. The difference being: There is be no moral center guiding his schemes and machinations.

There was action in this issue, but the climax was… anti-climactic. And, to be honest, the whole series just left me unfulfilled. Yes, I bought all seven issues, but the pay-off just wasn’t there for me. It seems as if the whole reason for the series was an attempt to heap a little more angst onto [SPOILER DELETED]… as if they needed more. I am curious to see how the  repercussions of this story’s finale affect the characters of the DCU over the next few months or years.

Milestone Forever #2 (0f 2) – This issue concludes the “wrap-up” of the Milestone Universe. It also serves to fold the MiU into the mainstream DCU, as seen in Justice League of America #27 and 28.  Dharma continues to attempt to unravel the mystery of who or what will cause/prevent the destruction of the Milestone Universe… and he’s unsure of how to proceed. In the course of his journey, he offers glimpses of the futures of Hardware and Static.

I was satisfied with the way that Dwayne McDuffie and company turned off the lights on the Milestone-as-a-separate-Universe and rolled it into the DCU. (And, they did it in less than 12 – or 52 issues, to boot!)

Why Blackest Night Has Become Comics’ Brightest Day

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Chad Derdowski, from Mania.com, has written an overview of what makes DC Comics’ Blackest Night event so good… and unlike other comic events in recent history (if not ever):

It’s a story years in the making that has finally come to fruition, much to the delight of comic book fans everywhere. No, we’re not talking about Marvel’s Siege; we’re referring to Blackest Night, an event that has been building since Geoff Johns worked his magic in Green Lantern: Rebirth, bringing Hal Jordan back to prominence in the DCU and setting off a series of events that have kept superhero fans on the edge of their seats.

For the rest of the article, click here.