Hello! You know the drill, comics reviews, click the links to go to the forum thread and insult me. It’s a tale as old as time.
This week is pretty massive, there’s an absolutely filthy issue of Satellite Sam, Lazarus is back, Inhumanity starts really impacting on the Marvel Universe in the likes of Mighty Avengers, Uncanny X-Men and Avengers A.I.. There’s also a couple Forever Evil tie-ins, more King’s Watch, an issue of Batman and Superior Foes Of Spider-Man is out too.
All good stuff, so let’s get on with it!
Nova #11– After writing half of #100, the Gerry Duggan era of Nova begins, and it’s pretty much more of the same. Duggan does a good job here of balancing the science-fiction side of Sam Alexander’s life as Nova, whilst also taking a bit more time to explore his ordinary, home life. There’s high-flying fights against aliens, but also getting called to the Principal’s Office. It’s all very typical teen superhero stuff, but it’s well-written, and there’s enough new ideas in there that it doesn’t feel too repetitive.
The first thing Sam has to deal with his the fact that he was ‘blinded’ by flashing lights at the end of last issue. Now, it turns out that it’s not permanent, and he’s not going to become Space-Daredevil, but it does have repercussions for him, as it may have been caused by repeated hits to the head whilst in action as Nova and just in his regular life. It remains to be seen whether this was set-up for future stories where he has to stop being Nova, or just an opportunity for a joke about helmets, but it was a good scene, and the fact that Sam’s mother couldn’t afford to pay the doctor’s bill got across the Alexander family’s financial woes nicely. Being Nova really is having a pretty shitty effect on Sam’s life when you think about it. Sam heads to school, and soon gets into a fight with the school bully, which gets him called to the Principal’s Office, where, as punishment, he is forced to join the Chess Club. I’m guessing that Sam learning to play chess will play a part in his growth as a superhero, and that the strategies he learns from the game will pay off in a battle against some evil aliens.
Speaking of evil aliens, the flashing lights that Sam keeps seeing eventually point him in their direction, as it turns out that they are a map of the stars, pointing Sam to the location of other Novas. Only of course, all the other Novas are dead. Sam flies to a distant planet, where he finds a dead Nova Corpsman tied up in spider-webs by alien spider-monsters. After a pretty entertaining fight, Sam grabs the dead Nova’s helmet, and sees a vision of his last moments, where he is eaten by a giant spider-monster, which leads to another cool action moment. I have to say I really like the way Duggan writes Nova’s in-battle dialogue, he sounds like a cocky kid playing games, and that really makes sense. So, it turns out that all of the lights that Sam can see are the locations of dead Novas. Sam tries to reach out and see if any of them are still alive, but no luck.
Or at least, not for him, as the issue ends with the introduction of a new villain, Cadivan, who seems to be an Alien Hunter who is always bragging about how he once killed a Nova. His trophy lights up, and he knows that there is another Nova out there for him to kill, and is heading to him. I think this plot of Sam following up on dead Novas is a good one, it plays up his role as the last-surviving member of the Corps, and it could very well be a great way for Richard Rider to return, or at least for his final fate to be addressed. Plus, there’s still the small matter of Sam’s dad still being out there somewhere.
This was another strong issue of Nova, the heavy focus on Sam’s home life was needed, and the new space-bound plot is dark enough that small scenes like Sam baby-sitting his sister are necessary to balance it out. The art from Paco Medina was excellent as always, and it really does look like Duggan is going to do some cool stuff with this character. I look forward to a long run, this book has had too much chopping and changing already.
Mighty Avengers #4 – With Infinity over with, it’s time for the Mighty Avengers to move on from being a team thrown together on the fly, to an actual Avengers group. Al Ewing starts that process now, whilst at the same time doing a cool job of reflecting Inhumanity and continuing to tease out the true identity of Spider Hero/Ronin (even though it’s already been spoiled).
The issue begins with the introduction of this storyline’s villain, (at least, I think he’s meant to be a villain) Jason Quantrell, who is the head of some shady corporation called Cortex. What’s interesting here is that Qantrell’s personal security guard is one of the people who recently underwent Terrigenesis, and now has the ability to slow down time, which she uses to break into the sunken remains of Attilan to steal Inhuman tech that Quantrell and Cortex can use for nefarious means.
As for the actual Mighty Avengers, Luke is setting them up in the Gem Theater, which is of course, his original base of operations back when he was Power Man and first doing his heroing for hire thing. Al Ewing really is impressing me with his character work in this series, and all the conversations between all of the characters are just golden. Even though his take on Superior Spider-Man is a bit more over-the-top than Slott’s, it is very funny, and it works well in a team setting. The scene where everyone talks about why Spider-Man has changed was a little bit on the nose, but the idea that he read Atlas Shrugged and became a jerk is just genius, I bet Otto is an objectivist.
I also really enjoyed the scene where the Falcon joined the team, and he expressed exasperation at always being seen as Captain America’s sidekick by everyone. I must admit, I personally do kind of view Falcon as a supporting character of Captain America, so it’s going to be very cool indeed to see him strike out a bit on his own in this series, and be more than just Cap’s buddy, especially since he’s making his movie debut soon, albeit, as a supporting character of Captain America. The one page that explained what Blue Marvel is up to was great as well, not only did it demonstrate his global power-set (he’s in Germany!), but also his high intelligence (he speaks fluent German!), and a cool look at the wider Marvel Universe, with a guest-appearance from Hauptmann Deutschland of all characters. Ewing is of course a Brit, so it’s very cool to have him show some European stuff in the Marvel Universe, which can be forgotten.
The Spider Hero mystery continues to deepen, as he consults in private with Kaluu, an immortal magician, and we get some explanation for why this character is hiding his face, as he needs to keep his presence hidden from a mysterious group called ‘The Walkers’. It also seems like he knows Luke Cage’s dad, which is strange indeed. Spider Hero asks for help to find The Walkers, and he, like Quantrell, is pointed in the direction of Attilan. It turns out that these Walkers are making sure that Attilan stays floating in the Hudson river as part of their evil plans, and I’m excited to see their plot, along with Quantrell’s Inhuman agent, collide with the Mighty Avengers. Spider Hero asks the rest of the team to go with him to Attilan, but first up, he needs a new outfit. Luckily, Luke and Jessica still have a box of Hawkeye’s old clothes lying around (how great is it that, thanks to Fraction’s Hawkeye, that doesn’t seem too convenient? Clint is the type of guy to just leave shit at his friend’s house), and he is suited and booted as Ronin, which looks totally awesome, especially under a leather jacket (which, now that I think about it, is a big clue to Ronin’s true identity).
So, the Mighty Avengers are off to Attilan, but interestingly, Luke isn’t going with, he has a meeting with his Lawyer to help set up the Mighty Avengers legally. It looks like this Lawyer is going to be She-Hulk, and that’s how she’s going to join the team, but since when did She-Hulk and Luke Cage date? Jessica mentions they are exes, but I don’t remember that at all, is it from the 80s? I think it’s a cool idea, but it’s new to me. But before Luke can go meet Shulkie, he’s got Spider-Man to deal with, as SpOck returns to The Gem, with a Spider-Bot in tow, demanding to be made team leader. As I said before, Ewing’s Superior Spidey is not exactly subtle, but it’s working, and it’s adding a cool sense of discord amongst the team.
This series really is working for me now, the sense of humour is spot on, the characters are all written really well, and written as human beings, and I have to say, Greg Land’s art is looking pretty damn good. If you’ve slept on this book because you didn’t think you needed another Avengers title in your life, think again, because this is good stuff.
Avengers A.I. #7 – Sam Humphries takes a break from the ongoing battle between the Avengers and Dimitrios for a very enjoyable Inhumanity tie-in that surprised me by actually starting to make Doombot into a character. I’ve loved Doombot as a hilarious, background joke for the past 6 issues, but giving him some actual depth, and some moments of heroism, has made him even better. Plus, the fact that Doombot is doing good is a great example of this title’s core theme, that A.I. are just like humans really, that just because Doombot was built and based on someone evil, doesn’t mean he can’t grow to be good too. He has sentience, he has free will.
Anyway, Inhumanity, this issue starts off with Hank Pym investigating the sunken ruins of Attilan and using an army of ants to scour it for bits of Inhuman tech that could be useful. Whlst there, Vision notices a strange reading, and Doombot is sent to check it out, but before he can reach it, he’s attacked by Daredevil. I thought it was really cool how Humphries used Daredevil in this story, and how he picked up on the events of Waid’s run. In that run, Daredevil and Hank Pym have struck up a bit of a friendship, and more than that, an arc from last year saw Daredevil get kidnapped by some of Doom’s goons, so it really makes sense that he would attack what he perceived to be Doom flying around New York. Daredevil is about to take out Doombot, but Pym is there to tell him that, hey, he’s with me, and Matt quickly uses his super-senses to work out that this is a robot. Matt is initially shocked that Pym has made a Doombot into an Avenger, but he is soon turned around by the same arguments I made, that Doombot is not his creator, and that he deserves a chance to be his own man.
Daredevil then explains that he’s looking for a client of his, an old lady called Doris who has been badly screwed over by Health Insurance, and has gone missing. You guessed it, it turns out that Doris is the strange energy reading that the Vision saw, and she’s a newly empowered Inhuman, who soon attacks everyone with her tentacles. I think it’s cool how Humphries has demonstrated that literally anyone could turn out to be an Inhuman, even a sweet old lady can suddenly be given powers. This is a cool point of difference between Inhumans and Mutants, as Mutants generally develop their powers as teens. Doris is angry and confused about what’s happened to her, but she is talked down by Daredevil, after he reveals his identity to her.
Just as Pym and everyone think they’ve got everything under control, Medusa and Lockjaw show up to take Doris off to wherever the Inhumans are living these days. It’s here that Doris finally gets a good look at her new, monstrous visage, and learns that this transformation is permanent, which almost sets her off again, but Doombot, of all characters, talks her down. Of course, he does it in a typical, Doombot way, appealing to her anger and basically convincing her to use her powers to strike back and become a supervillain, but it works. Pym doesn’t hear what Doombot says, but Daredevil does, and he realises what the audience should too, Doombot may have phrased it in a villainous fashion, but he still did good, which is a step forward for him. I think I’m really going to enjoy the slow-burn character growth of Doombot, especially if he still maintains that ridiculous humour at the same time.
The issue ends with a return to the main storylines, with Monica Chang desperately trying to piece together The Diamond before she is reassigned to the new Robot Hunter squad and sent by Hill to kill A.I.s. She doesn’t succeed however, as the first member of her new team shows up, and it’s Jocasta! This is a surprise, why the heck is Jocasta turning against her fellow robots? A very cool reveal that has me excited for the next issue, which, from Humphries’ note at the end here, is going to be awesome.
This was another very strong issue, and part of that was the return of Andre Lima Araujo as artist, he has such a great, unique style, although I don’t think he draws Medusa’s hair very well, it was a bit stringy, but that’s a small complaint.
The Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #6– Another exemplary issue of Superior Foes, man, this book is just so, so good. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Boomerang is, after only 6 issues, one of the most well-written characters in mainstream comics.
The issue begins with Fred out on a date at a Mets game with that flirtatious barmaid (I can’t actually remember her name, or if it’s been mentioned, which could be me being an idiot, or maybe her identity will be a shocking reveal?), in a very fun scene. Nick Spencer’s dialogue is just fantastic, and Steve Lieber’s art sells the comedy as well as the awkward sparks of romance In the end, Fred and the girl bond over their hatred of one particular player, and Fred falls in love, seeing hilarious visions of their future together, which for some reason seems to include her cheating on him with a flame-headed guy (I think Dormammu? He’s been a running joke in this series) and having his kid. A weird fantasy to be sure, but Boomerang is a weird guy. We then get a moment of real pathos from Boomerang, as he admits to the girl how much he misses being a Baseball player. This really sells his motivation as a character, and just why he became a supervillain really, as he’s trying to reclaim that same feeling of glory and power.
And hey, considering he’s got the portrait of Doctor Doom’s real face, he could soon be about to get that glory. The next scene sees Fred at home, staring at the portrait (which is of course, always hidden from our view) and explaining not only the (very funny) history of the painting, but also of his plan to get it right from the very start of the series. This was a great scene, not only because it was funny, and it allowed Lieber to do some more cool stuff with the art, but an explanation for all of the various twists and turns really was necessary so as to stop things from becoming too confusing. Especially because as the end of this issue shows, more twists are in the pipeline.
So, Boomerang is gonna be rich as hell, all on his own, but what about the rest of the Superior Six? Welp, he’s left them for dead in the hands of The Owl, who continues to be an absolutely great villain, genuinely menacing as he threatens to kill and torture Speed Demon, Overdrive and Beetle to make them tell them where Boomerang is. Overdrive seems ready to rat, but interestingly, Beetle is very calm, and even demands to be set free in exchange for not revealing how easily they attacked the Owl. Why is Beetle so confident? It’s because she’s Tombstone’s daughter! Yep, she texts him, and he and his thugs come and bust down the Owl’s wall. This was a really great surprise, especially as it was a surprise for Tombstone as well. Beetle has been an interesting character throughout this book, mostly because she’s actually competent, and now we see why, she’s supervillain royalty!
As for Boomerang, he’s not left alone to dream of his riches, as his parole officer, Mach whatever-number-it-is-now, turns up to quiz him about how the Superior Six members he himself ratted out where rescued from prison by a guy with boomerangs. This was another hilarious scene, as Boomerang bullshits the idea that there’s a new Boomerang out there, and we even get a cool riff on the various new Supermen that showed up after Supes’ death. Almost funnier is the fact that Boomerang his the Doom portrait behind a poster of ‘The Ugly Truth’, and then the fact that Mach… I’m just gonna call him Abe, can’t leave through the window because of his wings, so he can’t do his cool exit line. He does leave, and Boomerang things he’s come back after another knock on the door, but nope, it’s Chameleon!
Man, this title is a tangled web of lies and confusion, especially with Tombstone and Chameleon back in the mix, and that’s not even mentioning the Shocker being out there somewhere with Silvermane’s head. Boomerang looked like he had won at the start of this issue, but now it’s all come back to bite him in the ass in the most glorious of ways.
I can’t praise this title high enough, it’s funny, it’s clever, the art is superb, just read it, now.
Uncanny X-Men #15 – Holy fucking shit, the balls on Brian Michael Bendis. I can’t actually believe that he did what he did in this issue. He only went and introduced a Marvel Universe version of perhaps the worst character he ever created… Geldhoff. And no, that’s not a typo, you did read that right, 616 Geldhoff makes his debut here, and it’s actually not terrible. It looks like with Geldhoff and the mysterious bubble-head guy, Bendis is using his X-Men run to dust off a lot of old concepts and actually make it work. Jesus Christ, Geldhoff, this is mental.
Anyways, this issue isn’t really about Geldhoff, what it actually is, is a very fun ‘Girls Night’ with the various female Uncanny X-Men cast members, complete with excellent artwork from Kris Anka. The issue begins in the past, with Magik having one of her magic lessons with Doctor Strange, which was cool to see again, but the story really begins when Illyana heads back to the present, and is confronted by the Stepford Cuckoos and Tempus, who have realised that they have no clothes apart from the ones on their backs, and want to go shopping. They quickly rope Jean Grey into this (and cleverly, she is wearing the same shirt she stole off a clothesline in ‘Battle For The Atom’) and they want Magik to help them convince Emma Frost, because, somehow, she’s the nice one, which is hilarious. All of the dialogue in this issue was great, it felt like a realistic group of young women, rather than superheroes.
Everyone goes to wake up Emma (who sleeps in some strange positions, also very funny), and she grabs a massive duffel bag of money and doles it out. Kitty Pryde also tags along, and so Magik teleports everyone to London, where they, well, they go on a shopping spree, and generally get to feel like normal people for once. Things do get a bit tense after they’ve eaten some greasy burgers (come on X-Men, you go to the UK and you don’t have fish and chips? Kitty was in Excalibur for ages, she should know better!), as the issues between the Cuckoos and Jean rear their head, but that is soon put aside when sirens go past, calling everyone to a disturbance.
This problem is where the Inhumanity tie-in begins, as it’s one of those pesky Terrigenesis cocoons. The various psychics use their powers to disperse the crowd, and the X-Men investigate the cocoon, which soon hatches, and well, fucking Geldhoff is inside it. He’s from Latveria in this universe as well, although he has these weird, like, spikes coming out of his face. Geldhoff is understandably freaked out by what’s happening, and ironically, he’s not a big fan of Mutants. Kitty tries to calm him down, but it doesn’t work, and he blasts some weird, purple energy out of his face, which knocks everyone, including Geldhoff himself out. Soon after this, AIM show up and take Geldhoff away to experiment on him, as Doctor Rappaccini sees Terrigenesis as an important next step for AIM. The X-Men wake up, and basically start to confront what a post-Inhumanity world means for them and the Mutant race. Could this actually be a good thing for Mutants? Could people’s prejudice turn away from them and to this new dangerous minority? I doubt that, but it’s certainly and exciting complication for the X-Men.
This was a great issue, the first half, with the girl’s night out was just a lot of fun, and then, when it got more serious, a lot of cool ideas for the future are set up. Plus, Geldhoff! What the hell? Crazy.
Kris Anka provided the art for this issue, and wow, it was really good. He did a few pages on a previous issue, but this was the first time he’s done a whole one, and I really like his style, he reminded me a bit of a cross between Stuart Immonen and Olivier Coipel, but with plenty of elements unique to Anka. The facial expressions, always vital to a Bendis book, were spot on, and I think he’s a great choice for an issue that focused on the female characters.
Bendis’ X-Books just continue to be awesome, and it’s great to see Uncanny move away from it’s heavy focus on Cyclops for a bit, last issue was all about Benjamin, and now the ladies got the spotlight, hell, Cyclops only had 1 line this issue, and it was awesome, Bendis is now developing a real ensemble.
Wolverine & The X-Men #39– Jason Aaron’s final arc on this book continues to be awesome, but I did feel that one particular plotline felt a bit too rushed.
This issue is pretty much evenly split between following Wolverine’s investigations into SHIELD, and also showing the SHIELD agents who are infiltrating the Jean Grey School. Wolverine is of course pissed off, as he carves his way through the SHIELD agents, even going so far as to shower one with shit. He knows it’s a trap, but what he’s not expecting is for Cyclops to also be there. Any meeting between Wolverine and Cyclops is going to be a gripping, intense moment, and this was that, but it was cool to seem them not immediately come to blows. They hate each other, yes, but they also realised that they’d both been played, and needed to team up to fight the 2 Sentinels that attack. One cool aspect of these scenes is that both characters have had their powers weakened. We all know that Cyclops’ powers have been erratic ever since he was The Phoenix, and now the fact that Wolverine has lost his healing factor and his now ‘killable’ is being reflected in other titles, like this one. So not only do these two rivals have to team up, they now know that their enemy is weaker than they perhaps knew. That should be interesting in the future, as the ‘schism’ between these two characters runs and runs.
Back at the school, the undercover twins are fully embedded in the school, and experiencing life at the JGS at it’s wacky best, including the school’s unique concept of homework, which looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Tri-Joey seems pretty much won over by the school already, and that’s the aspect of the story I think is a bit rushed, this character has only been around for 2 issues, and already he’s experiencing a change of heart, and that quick turnaround not only makes his story seem strange, but also makes his sisters strident hatred of mutants stand out as odd too. I guess the X-writers are making SHIELD just full-on mutant-haters now, which seems wrong to me, especially since the twins are working for a Mutant themselves in Dazzler (who is actually Mystique).
The twins share what they’ve learnt about many of the students, which serves as a cool insight into how these characters are changing, we learn some more about Sprite, and we see how Eye-Boy is working on becoming an actual bad-ass, and also get some movement on Shark Girl succumbing more to her shark side. We also see that Broo’s return to normal may not have been as smooth as we thought, as he is going out at night and eating animals. The SHIELD agents sneak off into the school, to break into the teacher’s lounge, steal a load of intel to send to Dazzler, and plant a bomb, but they are stopped by the prominent students, who are on to them. I’m guessing this came out when Tri-Joey mentioned to Broo that he knew his favourite food was Tofu omelets. That info was probably in a SHIELD file, and not from just conversation.
Pepe Larraz’s art was once again very strong, and appropriate for this arc of the series, which is a bit less comedic than usual. I think this arc, whilst maybe a bit rushed, is a great way for Aaron to end things, as it just shows how many cool characters and ideas he’s brought to the X-Men, it’s a celebration of the power of the Jean Grey School really.
Cable And X-Force #17– With this being the last issue before the ‘Vendetta’ crossover that is set to merge the X-Forces, Dennis Hopeless wraps up his plots in a pretty effective manner.
The main issue here is of course, Forge, whose body has been taken over by The Adversary. The troubles facing Cable and Hope (Reavers) and Colossus and Domino (an avalanche) are all resolved pretty easily in the end, but the real trouble is back at base.
The Adversary is in full control of Forge’s body, but luckily, X-Force’s base is made of steel, which is the Adversary’s one weakness (what a lame weakness, who does he think he is? Alan Scott?) and he can’t escape to unleash his reality-altering powers on the wider world. He is trying though, as he’s attacking Boom Boom in ways that seem weak, in order to make her blow up the steel. To make matters worse, Doctor Nemesis made his way into Forge’s mind without a real escape route, the only way to get out is to pull a lever in the real world. Nemesis and Forge are able to talk to Boom Boom, and she does eventually manage to pull the lever, and it works really well. Not only does it pull Nemesis out of Forge’s body and into his own, but it also removes both Forge’s consciousness and the Adversary’s too! You might think this would lead to the Adversary just taking over Nemesis’ body too, but nope, his strength of mind is too much, and he locks up the Adversary in a mind-cube or something.
I do think it’s a little weird that Doctor Nemesis was able to defeat Forge’s arch-nemesis so easily, but I suppose it make some sort of sense, and it’s cool to see that he can actually back up some of his egotistical claims. So, Forge is back to normal, and the day is saved. This was a pretty solid wrap-up to a decent story, but at this point, it does feel a bit like Hopeless is playing out the string before Spurrier can launch his new book.
I don’t know if I’ll read the crossover, as I don’t read the other X-Force, and if I don’t, this is my farewell to Cable And X-Force, which has been a fun title with lots of great characters and moments.
Cataclysm: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2(of 3)– In case you needed any more proof that this mini-series is not just your ordinary tie-in, and really is vital to the ongoing story of Miles Morales, then just look at the last page of this issue, serious, monumental stuff is going down, as Miles unmasks and ‘comes out’ as Spider-Man to his dad, which is… wow, this is a big deal.
Jefferson Davis’ hatred of superheroes has been a big part of this series, so him discovering the truth about his son is huge, and yet more proof, to me at least, that the Ultimate Universe is going nowhere. In case you forgot that Miles’ dad hated metahumans, Bendis provides a flashback to demonstrate this fact, showing what Miles’ family did during the last event of this magnitude in the Ultimate Universe…. Ultimatum. We see Miles and his parents (man, I got a little choked at seeing his mum again) stuck in traffic trying to escape from New York after the flood, and this stress causes Jefferson to just rage against Mutants, even going so far to say that if Miles was a Mutant, he might disown him. Which just shows what a big deal the ending of this issue is.
Other characters are also flashing back to Ultimatum, as Dagger remembers what happened on that day to her, and how her mother was very selfish, and didn’t want to help others. She realises how wrong her mother was, and so she and Cloak head right on into the fray, teleporting right up to Galactus’ eyeball, which is crazy. Dagger throws some, well, daggers at Galactus, but all that does is annoy him, as he gears up some laser-eyes right at them. Luckily, Cloak is able to teleport away just in time. Realising they are outmatched against Galactus, the duo start to do what they can, and teleport injured people to hospitals.
Also helping out is Bombshell, who, hilariously, hadn’t actually noticed the arrival of Galactus because she’s had her headphones on. She runs into an ex-boyfriend on the street, who points out what’s been going on, and then immediately is killed by falling debris, in a moment that actually is sort of funny, but also really scary and good at showing the huge amount of random deaths Galactus is causing. This spurs Bombshell to help out, and she heads over to where Spider-Man and Spider-Woman are to help out. Whilst Bombshell stops some looting, in her first act as a superhero, Miles helps a young kid return to his dad. It was awesome to see Bombshell really make that step into becoming a hero, and I really am just loving how Bendis is developing both her, and Cloak and Dagger, just great characters.
Miles reuniting that kid with his dad is what spurs him on to go find his dad, who is stood on the doorstep, shouting for Miles. When Spider-Man lands in front of him, Jefferson is angry, and shoves him, which is when Miles calls him dad, and eventually unmasks. I can’t wait to see what the fallout from this is, it’s going to be big.
This is a great mini-series, it’s doing really well at showing the street-level impact of Galactus’ attack, as well as continuing the established Ultimate Spider-Man plots, heck, it’s not just continuing them, it’s exploding them! David Marquez’s art is just getting better and better, and man, some of Justin Ponsor’s colours here are amazing too. If you’re reading Cataclysm, you need to be reading this tie-in, as well, it’s more than just a tie-in.
Batman #26– Zero Year continues to be a perfectly decent story, but at this point, I’m more interested in FCO Plascencia’s interesting colouring choices than I am in what Snyder is writing. All of the various little changes and adjustments he’s making to the Batman mythos are all well and good, but I am finding it hard to really care. We really didn’t need this story at all, and whilst it is of course good, I will be glad when it’s over.
The issue begins with Bruce Wayne having some enigmatic flashbacks, we see him watching The Mark Of Zorro alone, before being ‘arrested’ by a young Jim Gordon. We then see someone or something being attacked by rabid dogs, and a weird dude with face-paint talking about the truth. I don’t know what those were all about, but it will all be explained in time. Bruce wakes up to a scene of Doctor Death trying to kill Lucius Fox. It turns out that Fox wasn’t really working for Death (duh) and that what he injected Bruce with was an antidote for the Doctor’s bone-mangling serum. Doctor Death does some typical supervillain rambling, including some more interesting bits about secrets to do with Bruce Wayne’s past, and even manages to grab a hold of Bruce’s head, and to start crushing it. Luckily, that man Jim Gordon is on hand again to shoot Death and save Bruce, who wakes up in Hospital severely wounded.
Before he wakes up though, the mysterious face-paint man returns in another flashback, where Bruce is unlocked from some weird, isolation prison, and handed a walky-talky to talk to his father. Yes, his father, who is dead. What the hell is that all about? When Bruce does awake, he is confronted by Gordon, who wants to work together to stop Doctor Death, but Bruce refuses. This is because he believes Gordon to be just another corrupt cop like all the others. He expands on what happened after Gordon took him away from the movie theatre, and how a young Bruce saw Gordon and his partner accept bribes, including the trenchcoat that Gordon always wears. I think these changes to Gordon’s back story are very interesting indeed. In previous origins, like say, Year One, Gordon was an outsider who came to Gotham from (I think) Chicago, and was the one, lone, incorruptible Police Officer. Here, he came up in Gotham, and has a much darker past it seems. I think this gives Gordon more depth, but I suppose many fans might not like it. It’s also a fun twist on the Nolan movies, where Gordon’s coat has a very different kind of importance for Bruce Wayne. Also interesting is that these events happened on the day Bruce’s parents were killed. Bruce snuck out of school to go see Zorro, was taken back home by Gordon, and then I guess his parents didn’t want to punish him and took him to see a later showing instead, where of course, they got shot. This just adds another layer of guilt about his parent’s death for Bruce.
Wayne storms out of the hospital, and heads back out to hunt for Death, but he’s on a race against time, as not only could the Riddler strike with another blackout at any moment, the superstorm is coming too. Batman makes his way to the labs of some more former associates of Doctor Death, and finds them already bone-mangled. But he also finds something worse, some GCPD, who open fire on him, just a barrage of bullets. Obviously, since this is an origin story, Batman ain’t gonna die, but it’ll be interesting to see how he makes it out of this one, and how the various threats of Doctor Death and Riddler are solved.
Greg Capullo’s art was fantastic as usual, and as I mentioned earlier, FCO Plascencia is really kicking ass on the colouring here, it’s a lot brighter than you might expect from Batman, but it really works. So yes, whilst this title is still readable, and Scott Snyder is making interesting changes, particularly to Commissioner Gordon, I’m still finding it hard to care about yet another origin retelling.
Justice League #25– I think I’m actually finding these Forever Evil tie-ins that explore the back story of the Crime Syndicate a bit more than the main series. The last issue of Justice League made Ultraman the focus, but here, his rival, Owl-Man takes centre-stage, as we learn his origins and also just why he wants to keep Dick Grayson alive. And that’s not all, as this issue also gives us the New 52 debut of a legendary (to me at least) JLA member and classic superhero! Yes, Plastic Man is back, bitches!
The story begins on Earth-3, and shows how Owl-Man’s origin splinters from what we’re familiar with, from Batman’s. In this reality, Thomas Wayne is losing money because he keeps accidentally killing his patients and being sued (although it might not be accidental), although his wife is still spending all that’s left. Angry at this, Thomas Jr and Bruce plot to kill their parents and take the money for themselves. However, at the last minute, Bruce shows weakness and tries to stop Thomas. They fight, but then Alfred comes in and shoots them Bruce and their parents. Bruce is only wounded, but Thomas sees an Owl, which seems to be asking him who he is through it’s hoots, and Thomas shoots his brother dead. This was a great scene and a very cool subversion of the classic Batman origins, I know it’s a base pleasure, but I really am enjoying seeing just how dark Johns is going with these Earth-3 origins.
The story then moves to the present day, and to the ‘real’ world, as we are introduced to Eel O’Brien, a lowly mob-enforcer from Chicago who has accompanied his boss to a big meeting of all the families to try and work out just how non-powered organised crime can survive in a world controlled by super-villains. Eel is of course, soon to become Plastic Man, and in a typical Geoff Johns touch, he already has a habit of playing with elastic bands. This kind of literal thing used to really annoy, like how he made everyone in Central City ‘fast’, and to be honest, it still does, but I’ve pretty much been ground down into accepting it as a part of Johns’ shorthand style now, and I suppose for any readers who aren’t familiar with Plastic Man, it’s a cool piece of fore-shadowing. Before the Mob meeting can get started, Owl-Man busts in and basically destroys everyone, including of course, getting poor old Eel O’Brien covered in green toxic goop, which causes him to start melting, and will lead to him becoming Plastic Man. I’m glad that Plas is back in the New 52, he’s a really fun character, one that brings a different side to the DCU, and hopefully Johns will use him well, and not make him too dark or modernised.
Owl-Man’s reason for attacking is not to destroy the Mobs, but to take them over, and to choose his proxy for controlling them. In the end, he goes for Frank Bertinelli, and that surname should also ring a bell for fans. Owl-Man says that he now controls Bertinelli’s family, so could we be getting a return for the Helena Bertinelli version of the Huntress? Johns seems to be using Forever Evil to bring back, or at least tease bringing back a lot of fan-favourite characters, you’ve got Plastic Man, Ted Kord, and now Huntress. Very interesting indeed.
After this, Owl-Man returns to the CSA’s base and attempts to turn Dick Grayson to his side. We are once again treated to an Earth-3 version of a character’s origins, and in that reality, Dick’s parents were crooked circus performers who stole the circus by killing Anthony Zucco, and used it to launder money. They still died in a trapeze accident though. Interestingly, on Earth-3, Dick had a sister, who also died. Owl-Man tries to convince Nightwing to help him, by telling him that Owl-Man needs his help to save the world, that it would be better for him to be in charge than Ultraman, and you know, he’s not wrong. I’m really enjoying how the CSA really are fighting amongst themselves, and how that might be their downfall, and also by how well Johns has set up Owl-Man’s motivations and character. He is wracked with guilt over what happened to his Dick Grayson, and wants to make amends, in his own fucked up way, with the Earth-1 version. Of course, this issue ends with the revelation that Thomas Wayne was the one who killed the Flying Graysons, as he wanted control over Dick, so that’s another added edge to things. And plus, Superwoman saw Owl-Man start to plot against Ultraman, which should lead to some cool stuff in the future.
This was another very good, albeit very grim, issue, but that makes sense given the storyline, Doug Mahnke’s art was fantastic as usual, and it was a really pleasant surprise to see Plastic Man show up.
Justice League Of America #10– More Forever Evil fun, as Matt Kindt continues to explore Stargirl’s origin in way more detail than we probably need, but it’s all well-written and interesting stuff. I just feel that, compared to Johns’ tie-ins in Justice League, these issues feel more inconsequential.
The issue is pretty much split between Stargirl fighting against various members of the Secret Society, and with her flashing back to her origins. But Kindt does a good job at making this work, and not making it seem like flashbacks just for the sake of it. You seen, in the process of escaping from that prison, Stargirl and Martian Manhunter’s psyche’s were melded together, so the reason Stargirl is having these flashbacks is because of the strain on her mind, and that manifests by having J’Onn randomly show up in them. I will say that these scenes do get a bit repetitive, as they are basically just Stargirl arguing with Stripesy about her wanting to become a superhero and him not letting her, but they do culminate rather well, with Stargirl rejecting the nagging from both her memory of her step-dad and J’Onn, and going off to save her family.
The ‘mind-meld’ isn’t all bad though, as it gives Stargirl the use of some of Manhunter’s powers, which allows her to not only survive a beating from Blockbuster and Giganta, but also to win the fight and escape. Stargirl then flies up to a tall building to allow J’Onn to use his telepathy to find out where the rest of the Justice Leaguers are. J’Onn discovers that the prison is Firestorm, and wants Stargirl to go to where he is, but this is where she rejects his nagging, and manages to pull him from her mind, and head off to find her family. I did notice that she referred to Stripesy as her dad, which was effective in showing how their relationship has changed.
J’Onn heads off to Firestorm, but there’s a clock on that, as Firestorm is ‘counting down’, and I’m guessing that if he explodes, the Justice League will die.
This was a solid issue with good art from Derenick and Barrows (their similar styles mesh well), and I was glad to get some more focus on Stargirl, but I hope the JLoA tie-ins start dealing a bit more directly with the crossover in the next few issues.
Superman/Wonder Woman #3– This title continues to be really rather good, especially as it expands it’s scope a bit to show how other characters are effected by the Superman/Wonder Woman romance, and how they react to it. Charles Soule is doing a good job at writing this series, and I really think a lot of the criticism it’s getting is unwarranted, and probably from people who aren’t even reading it.
The issue begins with Cat Grant finally opening the envelope containing the video of Superman and Wonder Woman kissing, but quickly moves back to focusing on the central romance. Superman is sat on the moon, because after getting zapped by Apollo, he has more power than ever before, and he needs to burn it off, and is afraid that if he’s on Earth, he might lose control. Batman gets in touch with him, and they have a talk about what’s been going on basically. It was fun to see these two characters talk about something as relatable as romantic relationships, and Soule did a good job at getting across just how Superman and Batman are friends, as well as continuing to explore the similarities and differences between Clark and Diana. Batman tells Clark that he was raised as a human, and so sees himself as one, but Diana was raised separate from humanity, and as a princess on top of that, and that he needs to realise that, and not worry about protecting her. Batman, who for someone with such terrible romantic history, is surprisingly full of insight here, also says that, because they are together, he shouldn’t feel guilty about Wonder Woman being attacked by Doomsday, because her problems are now partly his, and vice versa.
Whilst this is going on, Wonder Woman is hanging out with her Amazon friend and worrying about what to buy Superman for Christmas. This of course brings us back to the old question of ‘what do you buy for the man who has everything?’
But before this issue just devolves into just talking and emoting, there’s an interdimensional disturbance to deal with, and that is of course General Zod, who has escaped from the Phantom Zone into the African desert. Zod has a pretty difficult time acclimating to having superpowers, the super-hearing drives him a little nuts, and he stomps on some poor dude’s head. He also attempts rather unsuccessfully to fly, but before he can really get going, he is attacked by Martian Manhunter and some other members of the Justice League Of America. Using this team here makes sense from Soule. Manhunter is one of the few characters who could stand up to Zod in a fight, Vibe specialises in dimensional crap, and well, it gives a chance for Hawkman to look like an idiot, which is always welcome. And of course, they are led by Wonder Woman’s ex, Steve Trevor, which brings a nice level of awkwardness to proceedings when the power couple show up. Wonder Woman gets Zod in her lasso, and Superman and Zod realise that the other is Kryptonian.
Interestingly, Zod is playing the long con here, and pretending to be a good Kryptonian, and Superman actually seems to trust him, which does make sense. We as fans know that Zod is bad news, but Superman doesn’t. I think Supergirl might know the truth, which makes me think she might play a part in this storyline somehow.
Superman and Wonder Woman don’t agree to let Zod go with Steve Trevor, so instead he’s taken off to the Fortress Of Solitude, which is obviously going to be a mistake. Zod keeps asking for Faora, so I wonder where she ended up.
The issue ends with Diana giving Clark his Christmas present, in a really sweet moment, the gift is time. For the next few hours, all the other superheroes will be working extra hard across the world so Superman can stop monitoring everything and just relax with his girlfriend. Unfortunately, he probably won’t get to, as just after they kiss, Superman starts to hear the news, and that news is bad. Cat Grant has gone public, and the whole world now knows that Superman and Wonder Woman are an item. Uh-oh.
I’m enjoying this title a lot, the art is some of Daniel’s best work, the characterisation and dialogue is great, and I like how connected it’s making the DC Universe feel. It’s already brought the worlds of Superman and Wonder Woman together (duh), but now the Justice Leagues are present, and making things more interesting. Plus, General Zod, he’s always great.
Green Lantern Corps #26– After taking a break to tell the story of John Stewart’s adventures during Zero Year, Venditti and Jensen take things back to the present day as all of the GL books I’m reading continue to kick ass in exploring the new world the Corps is facing.
The issue begins with John and his new recruits chilling out on Mogo, when the Citadel that escaped Oa finally makes it’s way back to their new home. John and the rest try and stop it from crashing, but don’t meet with much success. Mogo however is able to help, as he/she adjusts the gravity for a soft landing. This allows John to reunite with Fatality, but also leads to trouble, as some of Lanterns who have decided to give up on using their rings start to lecture him about how trying to stop the Citadel from falling was a waste of energy. I really am enjoying how the impact of Relic’s revelations are being explored.
Before the argument can really get underway, Hal and Kilowog show up to tell everyone that Jruk’s home planet, Oranx is about to sign a protection agreement with the Khund empire, and that Jruk and some other Lanterns need to go there and try and convince them otherwise. John sends Arisia and some randomer called Feska to go with Jruk, because he needs to stay on Mogo and talk to Hal. John is pretty angry with all of the stuff Hal has been doing as Corps leader, like using Mogo to attack the Clann planet, sending Guy undercover with the Red Lanterns, and of course, declaring war against other spectrum users, which includes Fatality. John punches Hal in the face, which is awesome, Hal deserves a smack every once in a while, but the two friends quickly reconcile, as Hal tells John he needs his help to do better.
The trip to Oranx is a lot of fun, I really enjoy Jruk as a character, he’s just so over-the-top and hilarious, so a whole planet like him, but worse, was great. Oranx solves political problems not through talk, but with violence, which is brilliant. Of course, things don’t go smoothly, as the Lanterns’ attempts to sort things out are fucked with by the Durlans, who really are being built up as great villains. A Durlan agent pretends to be Feska, and interferes in the ‘Blood Bowl’, which is sacrilege, and leads to the real Feska coming really close to getting executed. Jruk is able to save the day, and he realises that the Green Lantern Corps is his real home now, and that the Oranx way may not be the best. They are able to save Feska, but Oranx still signs a deal with the Khunds, and those Durlans are still out there, even on Mogo.
John, after mending things with Hal, gets to work on rebuilding the Corps and doing what he does best, being an architect. In an awesome scene, his ideas are turned into reality in an instant thanks to Mogo, and an impressive new Power Battery and a whole host of other buildings are built.
I’m really loving all the Lantern books at the moment, and I think this one might be the best, Jensen and Venditti are writing the most interesting version of John Stewart ever (yes, even better than the cartoon), and they’ve also introduced some great new characters like Jruk. The art from Bernard Chang is fantastic, and the Durlan plot is really picking up steam. I always felt that under Tomasi, GLC was kind of unnecessary, but now, it’s up there with DC’s best books.
Invincible #107– You know, I think Invincible might be one of the hardest comics to review month to month. It has such a different structure to most superhero comics, as there are no real defined story arcs, and Kirkman just continues the ongoing soap opera, and you’re never sure where any of the subplots are going until they surprisingly explode. This means that some issues are absolutely crazy and packed, and others are a bit too slow. It’s hard to write about it without just recapping, but hey.
This issue mostly focuses on the return of Doc Seismic, as we see what happened to him when was melted. He was transformed into a bad-ass lava dude, and has teamed-up with a bad-ass lava lady called ‘Volcanikka’ (Kirkman does come up with some great names), who is part of some evil lava race and wants to use Seismic’s knowledge of the surface world to conquer it. Seismic and Volcanikka attack with a host of monsters, and are engaged by Invincible and the rest of the Guardians Of The Globe. Interestingly, Invincible isn’t the one who defeats the giant monster, nope, it’s that female Viltrumite (I can’t remember her name, and Kirkman doesn’t remind us of it here). Invincible and her talk, and it looks like she’s got a thing for Mark, and she kisses him, which, given he’s engaged, is not cool. However, as she says, she didn’t see any resistance from him. Mark and Eve’s relationship has been going well for far too long by Invincible standards really, so this is a good time for some rockiness.
Mark heads home, where Eve notices he’s in a weird mode, he doesn’t admit to kissing the lady Viltrumite, but instead says he’s still thinking about Angstrom Levy being out there. Eve assures him that Levy is probably already dead, but Mark is still worried, and luckily, later that night, Robot calls him up and tells him that he can open up a portal to find the villain, which is what’s going to happen next issue, and from the cover, it looks like it’s going to be bloody.
In terms of other subplots, there’s some stuff at the beginning with Monster Girl’s daughter explaining to her dad (comics are weird aren’t they?) about some of the terrible things Robot did in the Flaxan dimension, which could lead to some interesting places. The Robot/Monster Girl stuff has been dragging on for ages now, so I’m ready for it to explode again.
This title just consistently delivers, month-in, month-out (although it has slowed down in schedule a bit lately). The art from Ottley is awesome as always, and I certainly am interested in what’s happening with Angstrom Levy and the Viltrumite woman. Hmm, maybe it’s not so hard to review.
Lazarus #5– Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s dystopian epic returns for a second story arc that really starts peeling back the layers on this fascinating world. Both by delving into the past, and also by expanding the cast of characters beyond the Carlyle family.
The issue begins with a flashback to Forever’s childhood, where we see her training and also how her father treated her as a kid, which was… not kindly. He’s kind of a dick really. Pretty much everyone in Lazarus is a dick when you think about. In the present, Forever goes to visit the daughter of the innocent man she had to execute in the first arc and apologise for killing him, in a very awkward scene that really demonstrates the fucked-up state of the world.
After this, Forever heads to the border between Carlyle’s territory and the land belonging to Bittner-Hock, where the wreckage of the plane that Jonah used to escape has been found. Has Jonah defected to Bittner-Hock? That would be interesting for sure. Forever is taunted and threatened by the Bittner-Hock guards, but doesn’t want to fight back and start a war, but when she turns her back, she is shot. However, she is able to avert conflict by convincing the other B-H soldiers to kill the guy who shot her. I think it’s interesting to see this arc develop more of families, the first arc was basically Carlyle Vs Morray, but no we are seeing Bittner-Hock. It was especially cool how the back-matter featured plenty of background detail on Bittner, and also a fake advert for Hock industries, I hope they do more stuff like that.
Forever’s final scenes in the issue feature her going to see Johannam who is trying to redeem herself by fixing South Central Los Angeles. Johanna is a very interesting character at this point, we the reader know we can’t trust her, and Forever suspects, but still, she’s hanging in there. Back in her bed, Forever ends the issue by once again looking at the text message telling her that this isn’t her real family, so that plotline looks set to be a bit of a slow-burner, but that works for me.
The other scenes in this issue focus on some new characters, and they aren’t ‘Family’, nope, they are Waste. Where this family live is in danger of flooding, and the Carlyle authority are late in getting back to them about helping them with flood defense. They are forced to leave their home, and when they return, it is destroyed. I really liked these scenes, and think it’s a great idea for Rucka to introduce some proper ‘Waste’ characters. It’s hard to really get a sense of how unjust this society is when all of the main characters are benefiting from it, but the plight of Bobbie Barret (is that a Mad Men reference?) and her family demonstrates that perfectly. The recap page mentions a concept called ‘Lift’, where Waste can be elevated to higher status, so I imagine this is what the Barrets are going to try and do.
This was a great return for this title, and it looks like it’s just going to get better and better. Michael Lark’s art was excellent as always, he and Rucka work really well together.
Satellite Sam #5– Jesus, was this a special blowjob variant or something? Pretty much every scene in this issue involved someone sucking somebody else’s dick, and it was probably all a bit too much. Reading Satellite Sam makes me feel kind of dirty afterwards, and I’m guessing that’s what Fraction and Chaykin are intending, I mean, the wraparound cover was just a close-up of a woman’s ass in lingerie, it’s meant to be sleazy.
Let’s go through this thing BJ-by-BJ. The first one we see is Mrs Ginsberg, the wife of the LeMonde Network head, going down on Reb Karnes, the man from the FCC. This was pretty explicit, and it was made even saucier by the fact that Mr Ginsberg was watching it all happen through a hole in the side of the truck they were doing it in and jerking off. When we saw Maddie Ginsberg and Karnes fuck previously, it seemed like the good Doctor was oblivious, but now that is complicated. It looks like he’s allowing this affair to happen to get more assistance from the FCC. Doc Ginsberg is almost caught in his act of voyeurism by Eugene, who comes up to him with an idea for a new TV show, and in an attempt to get Gene to leave, Ginsberg agrees to give him a new show. This leads to Gene returning to that club with the singer he’s obsessed with, braining the Doorman with a spanner, walking right up to her dressing room, and asking her to be on his new show. No blowjob though.
To mix things up a bit, the next bit of fellatio fun is some man-on-man action. Guy is working late, struggling on a script. Another man walks past his office (have we seen this character before?), remarks how Guy is working late, and they sneak off to a wardrobe room (they are literally in the closet, heh, clever), where the other man sucks Guy off. Throughout all of these scenes, Chaykin never actually draws a penis (which is probably a good thing, a penis drawn by Chaykin would be a rectangle, very odd), but this second BJ is even more explicit than the first, as we see what could either be cum or spit on the man’s face. This scene ends with someone taking a picture of the action, which will definitely spell trouble for guy. Because of Chaykin’s art-style, I couldn’t really tell who it was who took the photo, but I think it was Hamilton, one of Satellite Sam’s supporting actors. I’m guessing he’s going to use this to blackmail Guy and get more starring roles in the show.
The third and final blowjob of the issue comes when Michael White and Kara go in search of some of the women who have been photographed by Michael’s dad. They find one in a club, and she and Michael go off for a chat, where she, well, you know by now what she does. We don’t actually see as much of this one, but I think it’s actually a masterful use of comics technique and ‘the gutters’. All you see is this close up shots of Michael and this woman’s face, and your mind just fills in the gaps between the panels with dick sucking. It’s filthy, but very good storytelling and a great example of the kind of stuff only comics can do. Kara sees this and storms off, but Michael chases after her and gets into the cab too, and it turns out he got more than just oral from this woman, he got information too, as he now thinks Ginsberg was behind his dad’s death.
The only other, non BJ-scene was about Mariangela, and her troubles with her fiancé, and how his mother doesn’t want him marrying an Italian. It’s cool to get more detail on this story, and to take a break from the constant sex (although, she was in lingerie of course), but this plot is moving slowly.
This title continues to be a very strange read, it’s very dirty, but it’s always interesting, and I think at this point, despite Chaykin’s character models being very similar, I’m getting a handle on who’s who. This is a book with a lot of sucking, but it certainly doesn’t suck.
Three #3(of 5)– It’s issue three of Three, which is pretty cool to my mind, but that might make OCD. This issue continued to deepen the story, and most of all, the characters. The mystery of ‘Klaros’ just gets more and more interesting, and surprisingly, the pissant son of the Ephor that was killed in #1 takes a bit of a centre-stage here, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I started to feel a bit of sympathy for Arimnestos, even though he is a ‘trembler’.
Gillen kicks things off with the Spartan King enlisting the aid of a Helot tracker to help him find the three runaways. In order to ensure this Helot does not aid his fellow serfs, the King threatens to kill his wife and his children, which just shows how dickish the Spartans really are. Before they set off, the King reveals that Arimnestos will not be coming with them, he is a coward, a trembler, and so they hold him down, tear