Aloha! We’re back to full strength this week, as there were no shortages in the UK. This means there’s loads of great comics including more Miracleman, the final issue of Damian: Son Of Batman, a pivotal issue of Invincible, an excellent Green Lantern Corps Annual, the second chapter of the ‘Trial Of Jean Grey’ crossover in Guardians Of The Galaxy, some Superior Spider-Man and more!
Remember, click the links next to each review to go to the Outhouse forum discussion and give your two cents (or pennies if you, like me, are a filthy Brit) about this week’s four-colour glories.
Superior Spider-Man #26– With only a few issues left in the Superior Era (it sort of rhymes, shut up), we really are in the endgame now for SpOck, as Dan Slott moves every plotline that little bit closer to culminating. This issue is pretty much evenly split amongst 3 separate stories, and each one has a different artist accompanying Slott.
The first one, drawn by Humberto Ramos, features the surprisingly swift end of the so-called ‘Goblin War’, as Green Goblin leads his forces against those of the Hobgoblin. In the midst of battle, Green Goblin calls for a halt, and suggests that, rather than waste any more time, money or henchman, they end the battle in one-on-one combat between Gobby and Hobby, which is cool indeed, and as I said, surprising. The fight between them is mostly involved with eacho of them finding out who is actually under the other’s mask. Green Goblin quickly figures out that yep, this is Roderick Kingsley, but Hobgoblin actually thinks it might be Harry Osborn. That is until he rips open Gobby’s chest and sees a craterous scar that could only come from being impaled by a Glider. This means that it can only be the real deal, Norman Osborn, which shocks Hobby enough and allows Gobby to take control of the fight and kill his enemy, declaring himself ‘The Goblin King’. Now of course, we still haven’t seen the Green Goblin’s face, so the mystery still stands, and I do still think it’s a misdirect, and it isn’t actually Stormin’ Norman.
Green Goblin brings all of Hobgoblin’s men onto his side, and now it looks like he finally has an army to take on Spider-Man. Of course, there’s another twist, as it turns out that this Hobgoblin wasn’t actually Roderick Kingsley, but instead a stooge that had been brainwashed and modified into acting, talking and fighting like Kingsley. Only Phil Urich knows the truth, and he’s keeping it from Green Goblin, so who knows when this will come back into play? I imagine Kingsley won’t appear again until Amazing Spider-Man is back.
The second storyline, with art from Javier Rodriguez focuses on Spider-Man and the Avengers. Spidey is leading his Spiderlings against some AIM soldiers, but they are interrupted by Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Wolverine and Spider-Woman, who take everyone out, both AIM and the Spiderlings, so they can take Spider-Man in and question him about why he deleted all their files on him. Basically, all of SpOck’s chickens are coming home to roost, and now he’s got an intellect that beats even his in Tony Stark’s trying to find out the truth. So, rather than try and worm his way out once again or face discovery, Spider-Man just quits, by, in quite a symbolic moment, jumping through the same window that ‘Doctor Octopus’ (Peter Parker) pushed him through back in Amazing Spider-Man #700. So now, Spider-Man is all alone, with the Goblins circling.
The final storyline of this issue, where Slott is joined by the always awesome Marcos Martin, is focused on the ‘ghost’ of Peter Parker, as he wanders around inside his and Otto’s shared mind, seeing some of his remaining memories. Because he has lost so much, Peter thinks he’s weaker, that he has no hope of fighting back, but then he realises that the memories that are left are the most important ones, like busting out from under the machinery, and that he’s actually been ‘distilled to his core’ rather than erased, and that he will find a way to win. Which we know he obviously will, but it’s going to be fun to see how he does it. Also, this raises some interesting possibilities about what Peter Parker will be like when he does return, will he have lost a lot of his memories? I’m not sure how I’ll feel about that if it happens, but Slott has a way of making strange-seeming ideas work, just look at this series!
This issue was mostly about moving things into place for an epic final story, but it was still highly enjoyable, with 3 great artists working in tandem with Slot to give each story it’s own feel.
Thor: God Of Thunder #18– After the epic ‘The Accursed’ storyline, Jason Aaron switches gears for a fun, one-issue story about Young Thor fighting a Dragon. But it’s a lot more complex than that.
The issue begins with Thor waking up with a raging hangover inside the mouth of a dead Dragon, where he is praised by the women around him for saving their village from the beast that had been terrorising their village. Thor doesn’t remember anything much, so the ‘Queen Of The Northern She-Vikings’ fills him in, but, when the Dragon, who isn’t dead, wakes up, the true story is revealed. This Dragon, who’s name is Skabgagg, wasn’t the one who had been attacking the villagers and eating their dogs, he was just a Dragon who met up with Thor on his hunt, and agreed to help him find the true culprits, who turned out to be Trolls. After Thor and Skabgagg killed all of the Trolls, they got royally pissed on Troll Booze, leading to their epic hangovers and the current state of affairs. Wary of this story, the Queen tells Thor and Skabgagg to lead them to these Trolls, and prove that it’s the truth, which they do, and so another piss-up begins. I really enjoy these tales of Young Thor, where he’s just a debauched jack-ass, they are a hell of a lot of fun, and they show just how much humanity has changed him in the intervening years, and how important the likes of the Avengers and Jane Foster have been.
After this party, Thor returns home to Asgard, where he is lectured by Heimdall and told to see Odin, but he just goes right to bed. Skabgagg also returns home, where his father chastises him for spending time with humans instead of just eating them, and basically disowns him for not being a true dragon. This is where the story takes a dark turn, as Skabgagg returns to the Faroe Island village and tries to have another party with his friends, but inadvertently ends up eating and drinking all of their supplies and setting fire to buildings. Worst of all, in an attempt to dance with a Shieldmaden, he accidentally kills her. Thor is called by the villagers to help deal with the Dragon, and so an emotionally charged battle begins, with Skabgagg succumbing to his true nature and trying to kill Thor for stopping his ‘party’.
In the end, Thor slays the dragon, but he’s not happy about it, and even turns down a drink from the Queen. This issue really shows Young Thor take a step towards maturity I feel, and was a surprisingly affecting read, I felt really sorry for Skabgagg in the end, in fact, he reminded me of a (less stupid) Lenny from Of Mice And Men, which might be strange reference point, but it works. He couldn’t escape that he was a big, brute, and neither could Skabgagg, and in the end, he died.
This was a really good comic, and one that did a great job of subverting my expectations for what a Thor Vs Dragons story can be. Jason Aaron is playing with a lot of fantasy tropes and clichés in this series, and each time, he does something new with it.
The art here came from Das Pastoras, who is unfamiliar to me, but is a great fit, his style, much like Esad Ribic’s, feels very European, very Heavy Metal (both the comic and the album cover art style), and as such, fits with a medieval fantasy story. This issue reminded me of Ladronn, which is high praise, and I’d love to see Pastoras return for more of Young Thor’s adventures in future issues.
Uncanny Avengers #16– After months and months of crazy cosmic shit, Rick Remender boils things down to a race against time to stop Exitar The Executioner from destroying the Earth, and an awesome fight between Thor, Captain America and the Apocalypse Twins.
The issue actually begins in the future, with Immortus gathering his Infinity Watch, ready to head to the past and help out once the ‘Tachyon Dam’ is destroyed. Back in the present day, the ‘Geniuses Of Earth’ (including Doctor Doom, which is kind of weird. At first I thought it was Doombot from Avengers A.I., but nope the recap page says it’s the real deal) are trying to figure out what’s happening, and why, but not having much luck until Wasp fills them in. Thor is trying to get his Axe, Jarnbjorn back from the Twins and use it to either reason with Exitar… or kill him. As for Wasp, her job is to shut down the Tachyon Dam and allow Immortus’ reinforcements to arrive from the future. Man, this comic is kind of weird.
The Twins are gloating at the captive Captain America, but it’s short-lived, as Thor soon arrives to free his friend, and kick some ass. Realising that the Twins can only use their time-freezing powers when they are together, Cap tells Thor to separate them, as he deals with Eimin, and Thor with Uriel. Cap manages to evade Eimin’s attacks until he can reach the airlock button and suck her out to space, but the real meat here is Thor Vs Uriel, which is all kinds of awesome. Uriel rants and raves about how powerful he is, and how clever he was to manipulate Thor and the rest of the Avengers, but all Thor says is… ‘I care not’. It’s not quite as good as ‘Ultron, we would have words with thee’ but it’s close. In the midst of this fight, Thor comes across the dead body of Scarlet Witch, which is a nice, wordless page that sets things up very nicely for a brutal conclusion.
Back on Earth, a bunch of superheroes, including heavy-hitters like Doctor Strange, Hyperion and Captain Britain (he is a heavy-hitter, so there) are trying to take the fight to Exitar, but it looks like they have no hope. Steve McNiven’s art does a great job of showing the size difference between Exitar and the humans, and man, it’s a huge difference. As for Wasp, she makes her way to the Tachyon Dam, but runs into the Grim Reaper, who places her fist to his neck, and tells Wasp that the only way to stop him… is to kill him again. I can’t imagine the Wasp killing someone, so her moral dilemma is fascinating here, and, considering this book, sure to cause controversy.
Thor manages to defeat Uriel in the end, by opening up a portal and slamming him into it. Uriel is still ranting right until the end, but once again, all he gets in response is ‘I care not’. Bad-ass. In the aftermath of the explosion, Thor is left floating in space, with one arm burned to the bone, and about to grab Jarnbjorn. But who else is floating in space? Eimin of course, who gets to the Axe first and, with Exitar in the background, challenges Thor to come and take it back.
This was a smaller scale issue of Uncanny Avengers than the previous ones have been, but I think that was necessary, it kept the big cosmic stuff, but it also focused back in on the characters, particularly Captain America, Wasp and Thor. I still have no idea where Remender is going with this, and it’s hugely exciting. Steve McNiven’s art is a perfect fit for this widescreen epic, and, in general, this just continues to be a great series. It is a little weird how disconnected it feels to the rest of the Marvel Universe (Remender’s Cap aside), but that probably means it will stand the test of time really well. I certainly can’t wait to go back and re-read all of it. Hell, I might as well start with Uncanny X-Force!
Guardians Of The Galaxy #11– The Guardians/X-Men crossover continues here, as this issue shows what the Guardians were up to that led them to appear on the last page of last week’s All-New X-Men #22. I haven’t done a review of that comic, because it was one of those books the UK was shorted on, but it was really great, and this issue ending at the same point was a clever decision on the part of Brian Michael Bendis.
The issue begins with Star-Lord drinking in a bar on Knowhere (it was good to have Knowhere show up again, as it was a big part of DnA’s run) and trying to pick up hot alien chicks like the Captain Kirk that he is. However, his pick-up techniques are interrupted by Gamora, who, being the deadliest (and hottest) woman in the Galaxy, is pretty intimidating. Gamora wants to know why Peter is in Knowhere, as the Spartax are still out to capture him, and he says that, because this is the first place anyone would look, he figures that they’ve already been here and looked, so it’s safe. Which does kind of make sense. Quill then says that, anyway, the Spartax are know looking for Thanos instead, so he has nothing to worry about. And then… he points his gun at Gamora’s chest. In a development that should have been obvious because Gamora is in her old costume, but actually surprised me a bit, this isn’t Gamora, it’s a Skrull Bounty Hunter hired by J’Son of Spartax to track down his son whilst the Spartax Empire turns their attentions to Thanos. She drugs Star-Lord and drags him off.
Speaking of J’Son, this issue sees the return of the Galactic Council meetings, as he, along with the rest of the alien leaders, are told all about Jean Grey, and the Shi’ar’s plans to bring her in to answer for her crimes as The Phoenix. I did find it interesting that both J’Son and the Supreme Intelligence, who are terrible dickheads, both objected to Gladiator’s plans here, because this Jean is from the past, and hasn’t actually done the crimes she’s accused of yet. Is there something up with Gladiator here? Is he a Skrull too?
After a funny scene with Tony Stark trying to leave a message for the Guardians but not realising he’s live-streaming himself (It’s great how the space tech goes over even his head), it’s back to Knowhere, as the Skrull Bounty Hunter fucks up by walking straight into the real Gamora and Angela. It looks like we’re going to get a decent fight, but Angela just chops the Skrull’s head off, which was cool, I love her no nonsense attitude, you never know what she’s going to do next.
The issue ends with Rocket Raccoon revealing that, after the events of #10, he planted a bug in the Badoon communications system, and set it to monitor any mention of ‘Earth’, which means the Guardians overhear what the Shi’Ar are planning vis a vis Jean Grey. They jet off to try and stop them, but as we’ve already seen in All-New X-Men, they are too late, and arrive just as Jean has been taken and we get to see the flipside of that book’s last page, with a splash of the distraught X-Men.
This was another very fun issue of Guardians, with great dialogue from Bendis and excellent art from Pichelli, who just gets better and better for me. She has a lot to live up to in this crossover, since the other side of it is being drawn by Stuart Immonen, but I think she’s just as good at this point, which is awesome. Both teams are together now, so the real crossovery fun can begin. Will we see them fight each other first? It’s a cliché, but I actually would quite like to see it!
Inhumanity #2– This second Inhumanity one-shot (or is it #2 in a 2-issue mini-series? I dunno) is pretty good and full of exciting hints for the future, but much like the last 6 or so months of Fantastic Four and FF books, you can’t help but read it with a sense of missed opportunity. Because Matt Fraction is no longer set to be the writer of the ongoing ‘Inhuman’ series, we won’t get to see the same writer of this issue follow up on these ideas, which is a shame. I’ll still be reading Inhuman because Charles Soule is an excellent writer, but that doesn’t stop me being annoyed that Fraction is no longer on board.
This issue begins with Medusa having a portentous dream, before waking up and finally having to tell Captain America just what the hell is going on with her and her people. Meanwhile, Iron Man and Black Panther are hard at work in a lab trying to work out just how many Inhumans there will be out there now, and how far the Terrigenesis has spread. I thought it was interesting that Fraction makes no mention here of how these two characters, as members of the New Avengers/Illuminati should know that Black Bolt is still alive, either this story takes place before they find out, or the Illuminati are so secretive they won’t even mention it when they are alone. Tony Stark also realises that they aren’t the only ones who are smart enough to work this stuff out, so who else is after the new Inhumans?
Well, quite a few groups in fact, as we see a group of mysterious people in grey robot-suits attack a truck taking a bunch of Terrigen Pods to Attilan, and destroy the pods, killing the soon to be Inhumans. The story then moves to some kind of North Korea-esque dictatorship, which is marching around it’s Terrigen Pods and planning to use them as weapons. This is a mis-direct however, as the Dictator is soon attacked and killed by a group of rogue Inhumans led by ‘The Unspoken’, who I suppose is that Randac guy from Inhumanity #1, a former King who was deposed by Black Bolt’s ancestors. Fraction is setting up a lot of moving parts and enemies for Soule to deal with here, and I can see The Unspoken being a real challenger to Medusa for the Throne.
The issue ends with Medusa finally deciding to take some action, as she hears about some vivisection being performed on Terrigen Pods by those pesky scientists at AIM, she leads a group of Inhumans, including Gorgon and a bunch of others I’ve never heard of to attack AIM, and basically lay down the law. She is not amused, and she will no longer tolerate attacks on her people. Unluckily for Medusa, there are probably going to be more attacks in the future. Also unlucky is that Medusa’s hard edge appears to be just a front, as the issue ends with her weeping over her missing husband and son. Now of course, it’s perfectly understandable for her to be upset at her family being ripped apart and possibly dead, with the various threats hovering around, Medusa will need to get stronger, and fast.
The art here was a bit of a mish-mash, Nick Bradshaw drew the opening and closing pages, and I think his style fit the story very well, his depiction of Medusa’s hair flowing all over the place was particularly good. But in the middle, he’s replaced by Todd Nauck, who I’m usually a big fan of, but here, his pages looked rushed. Much like with Fraction’s leaving, it’s a shame that Bradshaw couldn’t draw all of this, and with Joe Madureira set to draw Inhuman, we could be looking at more artistic inconsistency.
Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #4(of 5)– It’s the penultimate issue of this event, and man, things look bleak for the Ultimate Universe. Thanks to the solicitations, we now know that the UU is thankfully sticking around with some exciting new books, but that doesn’t stop this issue from feeling appropriately apocalyptic. I mean, just look at the cover, Captain America is fucking dead, and the inside of those covers aren’t any cheerier.
The issue begins with the X-Men, who, having appeared at the end of #2 finally make their way back into the main story, standing in the middle of a deserted New York street and trying to work out what to do. Most of them want to leave, but Kitty, who of course lived in New York herself when she was part of Ultimate Spider-Man’s supporting cast, wants to stay and help. Which is what they do, as Captain America shows up, does an Uncle Sam/Lord Kitchener point at Kitty and tells her that they need her help to stop Galactus. On the Triskelion, Kitty and the rest of the X-Men are filled in on what Galactus is, and what the plan is. They want Kitty to phase through his technology and disrupt it, but before they can do that, they’ll have to pump her full of Pym Particles and make her giant and give her a suit of Iron Man tech. It’s probably a suicide mission, but Kitty agrees.
Also part of the plan is to use Jean Grey and a Cerebro (yep, SHIELD have a Cerebro) to try and read Galactus’ mind and see if she can find any weaknesses. She puts on the helmet, and reads Big Purple’s mind, where she finds out that he’s hungry and desperate and scared that he won’t be able to get back to his own Universe. Unfortunately, Galactus senses Jean’s presence, notices that the superheroes are near, and attacks.
This leads to a frantic scramble, with the Triskelion trying to get away from Galactus’ grasp, as both Thor and Captain America try to buy some time. Cap flies off in a plane and flies right into Galactus’ mouth in a fiery explosion. We do see a panel of Cap running away from the plane’s controls, but given the cover, it does look like he’s dead. The issue ends with the Triskelion crashing to Earth in an even more fiery explosion and Galactus saying ‘I hunger’ before getting back to work.
So yeah, at this point, the Ultimate Universe is pretty much screwed. Even though we do know that it’s not going anywhere, the final issue here should be fascinating, just to see how Bendis manages to have the heroes stop Galactus. Mark Bagley’s art was once again excellent, but that’s what Bagley is, consistent greatness. I can’t wait for the final chapter here, it should be crazy.
Miracleman #2– The second issue of Marvel’s Miracleman reprints is here, and already my biggest problem with the first issue is pretty much eliminated. This is because this issue feels like a lot more value for money than #1. There’s much more Alan Moore’s original writing in here, including a story that’s not been reprinted since the original 1982 run, and the comic is $1 cheaper. There’s still a bunch of unnecessary Mick Anglo stories in here, but they do provide some good context. I felt a bit short-changed by #1, but here, the balance felt right, and the price to pay is worth it in order to finally read these stories.
The first 13 pages continue the main Miracleman narrative, with Micky and Liz Moran getting a phonecall from Johnny Bates, the kid who used to be Kid Miracleman and going to visit him, before the twist reveal that Johnny is still Kid Miracleman, and is a totally insane psychopath. The fight scene and depictions of violence from Kid Miracleman here have been hugely influential across comics, and have probably had a negative effect overall, but that doesn’t negate the impact of what Moore did here. Seeing Johnny melt his secretary’s insides, and then throw that innocent kid to his death was so dark, and I can’t imagine how it must have felt to read this back in 1982.
But it’s not just the darkness that demonstrates how important this series was, Moore’s writing here is mature in the actual sense of the word, his narration is much more sophisticated than what came before in comics, and his description of Johnny Bates as ‘a tiger’ and ‘a dragon’ is just spot on and so wonderfully evocative. He’s the most critically acclaimed writer in all of comics, so this is nothing new from me, but still, this is great writing. Garry Leach’s art is perhaps the most surprising thing about this series for me, it’s so bloody good, and the new colouring makes it look fantastic. How Leach never became a mega-star in the 80s is shocking to me, but hey, his work is getting new spotlight now, and thanks to Moore’s lack of credit, he’s getting the attention he deserves.
After this comes the story that was never printed before in the US, which is a story set in the future, with Miracleman and Warpsmith travelling through time to important moments in the character’s past and having MM fight himself to create the energy needed to stop Kid Miracleman. The fact that Moore had his story plotted out so far in advance is pretty mindblowing, but I can see why this story hasn’t been reprinted before, it does spoil a lot of future events, including the death of Liz Moran. The art here comes from two very familiar names in Steve Dillon and Alan Davis, and it was very cool to see what their art looked like 30 years ago, and how they’ve developed.
The issue ends with some more ‘dvd extra’ type stuff, including some original art from Leach, which looks just as good, if not better than the coloured versions, it was meant to be in B&W after all. Then comes the Anglo stories, which are nothing special apart from the unfortunately named ‘Superflick’ studios, which, thanks to the lettering, reads as ‘Superfuck’. I know I’m being harsh on Mick Anglo again, but I can’t help it, I know this is cool context, but the stories are bad.
Overall, thanks to the price drop and increase in Moore material (and the fact that the Moore stuff got more interesting), this was a much better issue than #1, I am just so pleased and grateful to be reading these comics, that any complaints I have should really be ignored. This is a classic, buy it now, or wait for the trade, just bloody read it.
Aquaman #27– I recently finally got around to seeing Pacific Rim, and by the looks of this issue, so did Jeff Parker, as the bulk of this month’s issue is taken up with Aquaman fighting a giant monster (or Kaiju) that is in the midst of trying to destroy a city. Unfortunately it’s not Tokyo or Hong Kong, but Reykjavik, but still.
The fight starts with Aquaman in a mind-meld with the creature, where he discovers that it comes from Old Atlantis, and was under the control of the King, who used it to fight his enemies. Once the connection is broken, the fight still has to go on, and it was a lot of fun to see Aquaman go up against a threat so much bigger than him, and the way he defeated it was particularly great. I wasn’t such a big fan of the mid-fight flashback Aquaman had about his father, because that’s the sort of daddy-issue stuff that Geoff Johns always does, and I was looking forward to something a bit different under Parker, but it was well-written, and it did come about when Aquaman was just crushed by the monster’s foot, which was cool. As I said, the way Aquaman dealt the final blow was especially awesome, he tries to attack with his Trident, but it gets stuck in the shell, so he picks up a fallen girder and just hammers it through the brain and out the other side.
Of course, this fight wasn’t just for show, as it furthered quite a few subplots. The reaction from Aquaman’s fellow Atlanteans was not good, as this creature, the Karaquan is a legendary hero for them, and they didn’t like that their King killed it, rather than used it. This reaction seems to drive Aquaman and Mera towards a vacation on the surface. We also find out a bit more about the people who accidentally unleased the Karaquan last issue. They are ‘Triton’ and their newest member is Dr Stephen Shin, who is in the unlikely position of being the voice of reason, so you know they are bad news. I also wonder if the guy visiting Amnesty Bay at the start of the issue is related to them in some way. In the immediate aftermath of the battle, they are able to steal the dead Karaquan’s brain and take it back to base, and that obviously looks like being a bad decision, as for some reason, it’s attracting sharks, and one of their mechanics is out in the open water, bleeding… Although he might be OK, as Aquaman can still sense Karaquan’s brain, and should be on his way to save them. But of course, Aquaman discovering Triton probably isn’t what they want.
Jeff Parker’s run on Aquaman continues to be enjoyable, he’s doing a good job of getting back to basics with the character, and showing why he’s a good superhero, but also not forgetting the fantasy and political elements that did take over a bit towards the end of Johns’ tenure.
The art from Paul Pelletier and Netho Diaz is solid stuff, but I would prefer if just one or the other drew the whole issue. With the announcement of a second Aquaman series, the future looks bright for everyone’s favourite Super-Friend, now is the time to jump on board (or overboard I suppose).
Green Lantern Corps Annual #2– If you’ve been following the various GL books lately, don’t skip out on this Annual, it’s not some throwaway cash-grab, but a vital part of the ongoing story that Robert Venditti, Van Jensen and the other writers are telling.
The issue begins with the various villains who escaped from the Sciencells during Lights Out attacking Mogo, but through the course of the battle, and with a lot of flashbacks, it turns out that these villains aren’t here to attack the Lanterns as a part of the Durlan master-plan, but instead have turned against the shape-shifters and want to help Hal and the Corps. We see them turn against the Durlan who was attempting to make a deal with them, and we also see them rescue John Stewart and his crew of Lanterns from the hands of the Khunds. So basically, the whole fight was Hal Jordan’s fault as he leapt in without thinking. I’ve said this a lot about Venditti’s run, but it is refreshing to see him have Hal fuck up and not immediately absolve him of any blame like Johns would. The fact that Hal is a head-strong idiot makes him seem more like a real person, and strangely, more likeable.
Thanks to John’s level-headed persuasion, Hal agrees to work alongside former enemies like Kanjar Ro, Bolphunga and Evil Star, but even with them, they are still up against it when it comes to the Durlans. In this issue, we see the Khunds and Prixiam Nol-Ang visit the Durlan homeworld to visit the Durlan elders (a disgusting ball of pulsating, gooey flesh) and hash out their plans for how to defeat the Lanterns, and who will get what after the Corps are gone. The last few pages here were very interesting, as both Hal and John, and the Durlan elders bring up a character I had actually forgotten about in Von Daggle, the Durlan Green Lantern and leader of the Green Lantern Corpse, the top-secret, black ops division of the Corps introduced back in Dave Gibbons’ run on GLC. These guys haven’t appeared in a long while, so it’s cool to have them back, and Von Daggle looks to be a big player in this upcoming storyline, as the Durlans believe he feels betrayed and abandoned by the Corps and could be willing to turn to their side. I doubt he will, given that he seems to be an ancestor of Chameleon Boy of the Legion Of Superheroes, but still, his choice will be very decisive.
The art from Neil Edwards in these main story segments was very strong, and I think he’s a good fit for the Lantern books.
Throughout this issue, Tom Derenick draws one-page origin stories for each of the various villains who ally with the Corps, and this was very useful back-story to me, because most of these villains are unknowns for me, or at least different in the New 52. It was a little odd to have Bolphunga The Unrelenting treated seriously, but it worked. I was most intrigued by ‘Hunger Dog’, is he from Apokolips? It didn’t look like it, but as we all know, the final Jack Kirby New Gods story was entitled ‘The Hunger Dogs’.
This was a very good comic, and just continues the great run of Green Lantern comics lately. I know a lot of people skip annuals (I myself do if it’s not the regular writer), but this one is a must-read for any GL fans.
Damian: Son Of Batman #4(of 4)– The final issue of this rather odd mini-series is here, and nothing much of anything is really resolved. Unless this is all set-up for a second mini-series or an ongoing series focusing on the adventures of an Adult Damian, it was a bit disappointing in fact.
The bulk of the issue is taken up with Damian fighting the New Joker and his henchman down at the docks in an attempt to save his father’s live, whilst at the same time struggling to not kill his enemies. He does manage to hold off from killing Jackanapes, but in the end, he is forced to kill the Joker, who has a gun pointed right at Bruce Wayne’s head. The way Damian killed Joker was pretty damn hardcore, he ripped him open with his bare (well, gloved) hands, and returned home with his dad. We later see that the Joker isn’t actually dead, well, he’s alive until the real Joker returns and shoots him in the head.
The issue ends with Damian fully claiming the mantle of Batman, having a conversation with Alfred the Cat (it’s still not clear whether this Cat actually can talk or if Damian is crazy) and heading out to fight the new wave of crime that has hit Gotham’s streets in the wake of the real Joker’s return. That’s it pretty much, we don’t see Batman face up against the Clown Prince, and we still don’t know if he actually did kill Dick Grayson. There pretty much has to be a sequel at this point.
I think I actually will pick that up if it happens, because with #4 of this series, I feel like Andy Kubert is starting to come into his own as a writer, but that may be because this issue was mainly just a fight scene showcasing his always excellent art. It has to be said how good this whole mini-series has looked, the story was weird, but every page looked fantastic, Kubert needs to be inking himself all the time going forward I feel.
This was an strange series for sure, and I wouldn’t say it was good, but if you like Damian Wayne as a character, I would say check it out, the final issue holds promise of some kind of weird Judge Dredd/Batman hybrid series in the future, which could be good.
Black Science #3– Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s crazy sci-fi epic continues to be a fun read, and whilst I’m not loving it as much as I did Remender’s other new Image series Deadly Class (seriously, read Deadly Class, it is amazing), with each issue I am feeling it more and more. It makes sense that this is the case, as in #1, Remender pretty much dropped us in at the deep end, but in these subsequent issues he’s used flashbacks to flesh out the various characters and explain the back-story.
This issue uses flashbacks very well, as in the present-day we see Ward, Shawn and Kadir try and find a way to save Grant McKay from dying, and in the flashbacks we see what happened just before ‘The Pillar’ malfunctioned and set all of these crazy events into motion. The issue begins with Kadir on the phone to his mysterious boss, and telling him/her/it that McKay has failed, and that he’s going to pull the plug. We also see that he knows that Grant is cheating on his wife with Becca, as he watches them through a camera. The conversation between Grant and Becca was very well-written, and full of all sorts of soapy goodness, with Grant telling her he’s going to break it off with his wife later that night. Only of course he won’t have a chance. Grants kids show up, and we see him take them in to see The Pillar and explain what it is and sort of how it works. I think it was useful to see what Remender’s take on the multiverse, and having it be like an Onion is certainly novel. I also liked seeing more about his kids, especially his daughter, Pia, who pretty much hates him and knows he’s cheating on her mother. Chandra sees that the kids shouldn’t really be in the same room as the Pillar, and heads off to tell Kadir, who comes storming in to tell off McKay, which is precisely when the Pillar activates and sends everyone off into the ‘Eververse’.
The present-day story is pretty good too, and action-packed, as Ward (who narrates the scene, and gets a cool focus, he seems like a fascinating character) along with Kadir and Shawn see a Native American Shaman with some kind of magic healing device that could be used to save McKay. They knock him out, but before they can head home, they have to deal with a giant fucking robot. I liked the way they dealt with the robot, as Kadir stopped it by throwing a piece of debris into it’s vents. He may not be such a bad dude after all. The other ‘Dimensionauts’ have problems of their own however, as they have to keep their German prisoner captive and stop him from telling his fellow soldiers about their presence in this Universe. They do so, but only after having to kill him in a very dark scene. I’m loving the crazy invention and ideas Remender is putting into his alternate realities, but it only works when grounded in real characters, and now, some of the others are coming into focus. Of course, the flashbacks in this issue do raise one question, does Grant McKay really deserve to be saved? He’s pretty much a dick.
Matteo Scalera’s artwork was excellent once again, he and Dean White’s colours mesh really well, and the attention to detail here is second to none, he has to draw a whole war in the background, and it all looks great. This series is getting really interesting now, the ideas were always there, but now the most important thing, character is as well.
East Of West #9– Just like with the other issues of this second East Of West story arc, Jonathan Hickman uses this issue to explore another aspect of this world and give us more information about a character who so far has barely been scratched beneath the surface.
In this case it’s the turn of John Freeman, the Crown Prince of ‘The Kingdom’ and a firm believer in ‘The Message’. We’ve seen him be a bad-ass before, but now we get to learn a lot more about who he is, what The Kingdom is like and what challenges it faces. The issue begins with John in bed and pondering whether or not to help out the Union President in dealing with her financial crisis. His girlfriend conveys what the common belief about John is, that he’s a bit of an unreliable rogue, but is that true? Or can he counted on? When next we see John, he’s in a Jazz Club trying to work out what to do, when he is confronted by one of his 14 brothers, all of whom are called John. This John, The Ninth, wants to kill his big brother so he can rise up in the Succession and get that bit closer to eventually being King. It’s a bit like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, but not treated as a joke. John steps outside, and in another display of bad-assery, he kills his brother’s goons before chopping off The Ninth’s leg. Yeah, John is pretty awesome.
After this, we see John in a meeting with his dad, the King, which not only serves to give us a bit of back-story on The Kingdom, but also set up some very cool stuff for the future. We find out that The Kingdom was formed in the aftermath of the Civil War and the mysterious cataclysmic event that created Armistice, by the various former slaves and freedmen, and because they were owed money, they were able to push for their own country for the black people to have as their own. Today, thanks to their ownership of The Gulf and all the Oil that followed, the Kingdom is very rich indeed and that’s why The Union is coming to John for help. It turns out that the King knows about the message John was watching at the start, and, while he objects to John’s involvement in the weird religion that is tied to The Message, he and John decide that they will give The Union money, in order for that whole country to be in their debt when the inevitable war comes. We also find out that the reason The Union is having a financial crisis is because of XioLian subtly calling in some loans, which is the first shot in that upcoming war. This series is moving slowly towards something very big indeed, but in the meantime, it’s just fascinating to dig deeper into the characters and countries of this world. Each issue is like a new treasure-trove of information.
Also in this issue is a little more of Death’s chat with The Oracle, as they strike a deal for her to tell him the whereabouts of his son. This short scene also gives us a nice bit of back-story, as we see how The Oracle was captured by the Four Horsemen and what they did to her. In return for the information asked for, The Oracle takes… one of Death’s eyes, in a wonderfully creepy moment, made all the better thanks to Nick Dragotta. Dragotta’s art is brilliant throughout, this series looks amazing, and part of what makes the world feel so fully realised is the art, and the backgrounds.
I am just loving this series, even if the main plot has stalled, it’s just such a rich world of characters and mysteries.
Invincible #108 – We’ve all been anticipating it for a while, but when it happened, I was still surprised. Yes, in this issue, Robot finally ‘turned heel’ and revealed himself to be up to some bad shit as he turned on Invincible, trapping him in an alternate dimension.
The issue starts off with Invincible and Robot preparing to head across dimensions and find out what’s going on with Angstrom Levy, and whether or not Mark can rest easy. Before this can happen though, Mark and Eve get into a big argument about whether or not he should go. Eve thinks this is too risky, that something could go wrong, and with a baby on the way, Mark should be careful. But for Mark, the reason he’s doing this is because of the baby, with Angstrom’s status a mystery, he feels like he could be attacked at any time, and that, for the sake of his family, this needs to be resolved. I can see both sides of the argument really, but Mark takes it too far when he insults Eve’s superhero career, saying she’s never dealt with big stuff like he has. Dick move man, dick move. She slaps him, and then he and Robot can begin their journey.
They head to Mohawk-Invincible’s world, which is controlled by The Viltrumuites, and are immediately brought to see Invincible by this Universe’s version of Conquest. I’m a sucker for alternate reality stories, so stuff like this, and seeing Conquest again was a real treat. When we see Mohawk-Invincible, he’s surrounded by a harem of chicks dressed to look like his lost love Atom Eve (who of course had a Mohawk in this world too) and he takes them to see what he’s doing to good ol’ Angstrom. The answer is… torture. He’s trying to work out how to get to alternate dimensions, and has him all hooked up to some nightmarish technology, which is pretty fucked-up. Mark is shocked by this, which is odd, as he was originally here to possibly kill Angstrom, but before he can do anything, Robot gets involved.
He uses some kind of sonar to incapacitate both Invincibles, kills the scientists, and in a brutal eye-popping head-squish, kills Mohawk-Invincible. He then proceeds to decapitate Angstrom. Robot is doing this because Invincible doesn’t fit into his big plans for Earth, and seeing the fact that Invincibles have the potential to conquer Earth like in this reality, he needs Mark out of the way, and rather than kill him, because he’s a friend, he’s just going to trap him in this reality. Robot steps through the door, leaving Mark behind to deal with one hell of a mess.
I can’t wait to see how Invincible is going to get out of this one, the cover to next issue seems to indicate that this universe’s version of Robot will be involved. After a few slow issues, this was the one that kicked things into high gear, and with the big #111 issue coming up, I expect fireworks from Kirkman. Ryan Ottley’s art was great as ever, nobody draws viscera and eyeballs like him, but that violence, combined with the final line of dialogue, which was ‘Holy Fuck’ raised an eyebrow for me.
This book has always been violent, but that must be the first F-bomb in Invincible-history right? It’s quite odd that a book that, at the start, was praised for being a traditional superhero comic that teens and kids should read is now full of violence and swearing. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, and I suppose those some kids and teens are now adults (like me), but it is strange.
Saga #18– With this being the last issue of Saga until May (fucking May!) it has a lot to do and a lot to live up to, and it pretty much did, wrapping up the chaotic ending of #17 very well, and ending in a fantastic place that sets us up for the future brilliantly, and has me wanting #19, not in bloomin’ May.
BKV picks things up in the midst of the crazy situaton at Heist’s lighthouse, Heist is dead, everything is on fire and Alana and Marko are backed into a corner. Marko’s mother is also in trouble, as she’s face to face with Lying Cat. Luckily, Izabel knows a thing or two about Lying Cats, and manages to make it shoo. There’s some stuff about the Cat being a runt and having some kind of tragic back-story here, but I don’t care, I have no interest in this overrated feline. However, just when Izabel thinks she’s solved that problem… Prince Robot IV shows up. But in an interesting twist, Robot is all fucked up and seems to have defaulted to basic, factory settings. This means that once again we get some porn on his screen-face, but also that Izabel is able to get him to take Marko’s mom away from the fire, before he wanders off in a daze.
The real meat of the issue comes when Gwendolyn confronts Marko and Alana, in a very emotional scene, where we see just how upset she was at Marko breaking her heart, but also that The Will’s love for her is not as unrequited as we thought. She asks Marko to tell her how to save The Will, but the magical methods he knows will only work on his and Gwendolyn’s kind. She’s about to kill Alana, when Marko pushes her and Hazel off the roof, presumably to their deaths, sparing them a worse fate. We saw Marko contemplate this last issue, but I didn’t think he’d actually do it, but then of course, they aren’t dead, and we see that Alana’s wings aren’t quite as vestigial as she said. She knocks Gwendolyn out, and it’s time for some epilogues.
The first one sees the return of Upsher and Doff, who are trying to work their way around the Embargon poison that is stopping them from reporting on Marko and Alana. Their boss at the newspaper tells them that there’s a story out there involving the missing Prince Robot IV, and they realise that they can continue their investigation from this angle, without getting killed. I’m glad that these two characters are sticking around, because last issue it looked like The Brand had ended their involvement.
Speaking of The Brand, we see her again here, visiting The Will in hospital, and I say her because in this issue we have her gender confirmed. In #17 I thought The Brand was an androgynous man, but nope, she’s a woman, and not only that, she’s The Will’s sister, and her name is Sophie, which explains why he gave that name to Slave Girl. We also learn The Will’s real name, and it’s Billy, which is both obvious and surprising at the same time. Gwendolyn, Lying Cat and the other Sophie are watching from a distance, but their future looks uncertain at this point, and Hazel’s narration seems to indicate that we won’t see them for a while. It looks like Saga is going to be quite different when it returns, and the last page shows a little bit of just how different, as the series jumps forward in time, with Hazel now a toddler and walking around.
This was another typically excellent issue, with fantastic art from Staples that was made even better by the surprising ending. I can’t wait to see what’s happened in the intervening 2 years and what the other characters are like. It’s going to be a long wait, but it’s going to be worth it. If for some god-forsaken reason you haven’t read Saga yet, use this 3-month gap to read all 3 trades, you won’t regret it.
I’m making this official now, Miracleman is exempt from being considered my favourite book of the week, it’s not fair to compare current comics to all-time classics. Maybe in 30 years some of these runs will be seen as being on an equal level, but we’ll have to wait for that.
With that said, my fave this week was either Thor: God Of Thunder or East Of West, both books are always excellent, but this week’s issues were particularly good.
Next week is set to be a biggie, there’s more Forever Evil, a couple of All-New Marvel Now launches with Ms Marvel and Loki: Agent Of Asgard (as well as the 2nd issue of All-New Invaders and the 3rd Black Widow), a new issue of Lazarus and an intriguing issue of Green Lantern that comes with Red Lanterns completely free. I don’t read that book, will this bold experiment from DC make me pick it up? What a cliffhanger, you pretty much have to read next week’s column now don’t you?