Hi! Yep, it’s comics review time! The highlight this week include the final issue of Trillium, the second issue of the awesome new Moon Knight book, a special 200th issue celebration for Ultimate Spider-Man, more She-Hulk, some Black Science, an intriguing Swamp Thing and the first instalment of Aquaman And The Others! Yes, Aquaman has a second ongoing series, this is the brightest timeline.
Click the links to go to the forum threads, and enjoy!
Loki: Agent Of Asgard #3– With only the 3rd issue of this title, Al Ewing bravely mixes things up for a story that barely features Teen Loki at all and instead focuses on Old, Evil Loki. Of course, they are the same person, and as this intriguing time-travel story shows, their paths are definitely entwined.
Old Loki has been imprisoned by the All-Mother, but it can’t really hold him, and so, after looking over Teen Loki’s date with Verity from last issue, he escapes… into the past. Here, Loki meets up with a young version of his own adopted father, Odin (who, in a nice touch from Lee Garbett is drawn to look a lot like Thor. Garbett’s art is excellent throughout, and I liked how his style adjusted for the somewhat darker tone of the story) and sets in motion the series of events that got this story going.
Loki and Odin come across a giant Otter which Loki kills for food and clothing. Later, they come to an Inn, and it is revealed that this Otter was actually a shape-shifting human, and the son of the Innkeeper. To make amends, Loki is sent to get enough gold to cover the dead Otter fur, or Odin will be killed. The way Loki retrieves this gold is very cool indeed, as rather than try and trick the dwarf-turned-fish that owns it, he just shoots him with a bazooka. In this story, Loki’s biggest trick is not lying at all. With his last breath, the dwarf curses the gold, saying that it will reveal truths, and therefore stop Loki from lying, but since he’s giving away the gold, he’s not really bothered. Loki and Odin are free to go, but the cursed gold reveals the true nature of the Innkeeper and his family. One son is driven mad with greed for the gold, and kills his father and wounds his brother before running off with it. The other brother’s truth is a desire for vengeance, and so he forges a magic sword to help him get it. This sword is Gram, which should be a familiar name to readers of this series, and should get your brain working into overdrive with the time-travel craziness here. The greedy brother, Fafnir, is so greedy that he actually transforms into a dragon to protect it.
The story then skips forward a few 100 years or so, and brings Sigurd a legendary hero of Asgard into things. I’m not too familiar with this character, either from the original Norse Myths or the comics, but Ewing gives us a good sense of what he’s like here in only a few pages. I also liked that he’s black, I never had a problem with Heimdall being black in the Thor movies, and it’s cool to see that reflected in the comics. Sigurd comes across the vengeful brother, who sends him to kill the dragon that used to be his brother with the magic sword Gram. Sigurd does so, bringing the heart of the dragon back to the Inn, but the brother plans to betray him. He is warned by a bird (who is obviously Loki) and in the end is able to defend himself and keep the sword for himself.
The story then jumps again, to just after the death of Bor. Old Loki again visits Odin and tells him to take Gram and lock it in a box with 5 keys and scatter them around the world. These are the keys that Teen Loki searched for in the All-New Marvel Now Point One one-shot, and so all of this was set up by Old Loki himself after the fact. But Old Loki wasn’t released by Teen Loki until after Loki had the sword anyway! And he needed that sword to release Old Loki from Thor’s body! Man, time-travel is confusing, but I think I get it. Or maybe I don’t.
The issue ends in the present day, with Sigurd, who is still alive but has hipster glasses, going up the mountain to retrieve Gram, only to find it missing. He somehow knows that Loki has it, and it looks like there’s going to be a clash between them. Unfortunately, he’s going after the wrong Loki!
This was a very surprising issue, but I think it worked, the time-travel is a lot to wrap your head around, but even if it doesn’t quite cohere, the actual story itself was highly entertaining. I mean, we got to see Loki shoot a giant fish with a bazooka, you can’t complain.
She-Hulk #3– Another very fun issue of Shulkie action from Charles Soule and Javier Pulido, this book is already one of my favourites.
The issue begins with She-Hulk (as Jen Walters, this is the first time we’ve seen her in that form in this run) and Kristoff Vernard surrounded by Doombots on the courthouse steps, in a seemingly impossible situation. Soule then flashes back to show us just why She-Hulk decided to take on Kristoff’s case for political asylum. It basically boils down to the fact that he doesn’t want to be King of Latveria when his ‘dad’ dies and he wants to have his own identity. That identity appears to be a snooty womanising jack-ass, but still, it’s better than Doctor Doom. The problem here is that there’s a strict time window for claiming asylum in America, you have to do it within 1 year of your arrival in the States and Kristoff, well, he’s been in America for exactly 1 year to the day. So it’s a race against time. This is the kind of thing that non-Lawyers probably wouldn’t know, so again, we see how cool it is to have a real-life Lawyer like Soule writing this character.
Rather than take a taxi, they get in Kristoff’s personal Limousine, but of course, the driver, Ernst, is a Doombot who tries to drive them to the Airport and back to Latveria instead. She-Hulk takes down Ernsbot, and luckily finds an old Fantasticar in one of the Airport Hangers to fly them to Court. But as we’ve seen, there’s only going to be more Doombots. Which means that She-Hulk has to come up with a plan.
That plan brings us back to the start of the issue, with Jen and Kristoff surrounded. Jen Hulks up and Kristoff, we’ll, he’s not Kristoff at all, it’s actually Patsy Walker, Hellcat (she should always be referred to that way I think, like Maximus The Mad) who proceeds to kick some serious Doombot ass. Last issue kind of made Patsy Walker, Hellcat out to be a bit of a loser, but here, Soule shows that she is a competent superhero and a good addition to the cast. Jen is able to make it into court and plead her case for Kristoff, which is granted by the judge, but as soon as she hammers down her gavel, the real Doom shows up and just flies off with his son. So it was all for nothing really. But was it? Jen vows to go get Kristoff back, and I imagine we’ll see that next issue.
In this final courthouse scene there’s an interesting moment involving Angie and her monkey. A security guard comes up to tell her that animals aren’t allowed in the courtroom, but Angie manages to get an exception. There’s something seriously creepy about that monkey, and now it looks like it, or it’s owner, has mind-control powers. Javier Pulido’s art was once again brilliant, every page looked stylish and the characters are just brimming with personality. Kristoff’s sneer was spot-on. I really am enjoying this book, it’s up there with Dan Slott’s run already, and that’s no joke.
Black Widow #5– It’s really cool to see this title step up and start telling stories that last longer than just 1 issue. This issue picks up from where #4 left off and ends on a heck of a cliffhanger. I enjoy done-in-one stories fine, but really, there’s nothing like the wait between issues for a continuing epic.
Nathan Edmondson begins just outside Paris, with Black Widow meeting up with a fellow spy for Intel on the mysterious Russian Monk who caused all of that trouble last issue. Her source, a French woman named Tori Raven tells her as much as she knows about Molot Boga, and also that his next target is blowing up a Plane at Gatwick Airport in the UK. Natasha heads to Gatwick, but she’s almost too late, she manages to distract Boga enough that he doesn’t outright blow up the Plane, but he clips the wing, and it crashes to the ground. Throughout the issue, Black Widow’s narration was about intelligence, the value of it, and the different ways it can be obtained. Natasha gained the knowledge of Boga’s whereabouts through peaceful means, but perhaps if she had used violence, she could have stopped him altogether.
Widow and Boga fight in the wreckage of the crashed Plane, and once again, Phil Noto’s art is absolutely awesome, this book just looks so good. I will say that the last few pages of the issue did look a bit rushed, but still great. Boga is eventually defeated by being sucked into the plane’s propellor, Syndrome from The Incredibles style, which was cool.
Widow rushes to the plane to try and save the passengers, but there’s only one of them, which is very strange indeed. SHIELD can’t get anything out of this man, so Maria Hill sends Widow in for a try at interrogation. She’s able to get him to talk a little, but before he can say much at all, he starts frothing at the mouth and dies. Whoever is behind Boga is certainly one powerful bastard.
Natasha meets up with Tori Raven once again, who sends her in the direction of Montenegro, and a boat floating just off the coast. The mysterious black helicopter that Boga escaped in last issue has been spotted on board. Black Widow drops in, but is soon captured, and led to the man in charge, who turns out to be Damon Dran, a supervillain once known as ‘The Indestructible Man’. He’s not looking that indestructible right now though, as he’s inside a Hyperbaric Chamber. Dran orders that Black Widow be tortured, and that’s where the issue ends. Widow is in way over her head here, and it’s because of bad Intel really. Has Tori Raven screwed her over? This issue is called ‘For The Birds’ for a reason I suppose.
For as much as I said Noto’s last few pages were rushed, the final splash-page, with the Black Widow logo super-imposed over everything was just awesome.
This title really is moving into another gear now, we’ve got continuing stories, and now a proper supervillain. I imagine a lot of people will exist the Cinema after seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier itching for more of Black Widow as she is awesome in the film, and they can look no further than this series, it’s great.
Moon Knight #2– Another awesome issue of this new Moon Knight series. After only 2 issues, this book is starting to remind me of a superheroic version of one of my all-time favourite Warren Ellis books, the brilliant Fell. Ellis and Templesmith keep saying that more Fell is coming, but even if doesn’t, we still have this awesomeness to take it’s place.
The issue begins with a fantastic 8-page opening sequence, where 8 different people are assassinated by an unseen Sniper. The page is divided into an 8-panel grid, and as each person is killed, their panel disappears, leaving a blank space, which is either left empty, or filled with the intriguing narration explaining why this is happening. I love the way the pages just get emptier and emptier, until there’s just one panel left surrounded by white. Such a cool technique, and one I haven’t seen before.
After this, Moon Knight finally swings into action as he tries to take down the Sniper. This fight is pretty much wordless, and it is great stuff. Ellis is really trusting Shalvey to tell a lot of the story here, and he has earned that trust for sure. In this issue, Moon Knight is wearing his more traditional superhero costume, which means that there’s less of the cool technique from last issue where it was left all white, but it’s still there, and whilst it’s weird to praise Jordie Bellaire for colouring she isn’t doing, it looks fantastic. Moon Knight corners the Sniper, who tells the full story, he was a hired mercenary who was left to die in a foreign country, whilst the people who sent him there left that ‘security’ company and got cushy new jobs on Wall Street, so he’s out for revenge.
The issue ends with the Sniper being shot dead by the 9th member of this team, who says that basically, the power has shifted from war and guns… to money. The final line here is ‘the bank always wins’, and man, it’s chilling. This book is unlike anything else out there, and I love it. This issue didn’t really feature Moon Knight at all, he was just there to fight the Sniper, but there are deeper levels. This Sniper was a mercenary who was left to die, before coming back and seeking revenge. That’s pretty much Moon Knight’s origins. Ellis doesn’t outright state the parallels, but they are there, and I don’t think this story will be good for Marc Spector’s mental health.
This book really does make you think, and it’s putting Moon Knight up against different kinds of threats that really do reflect the modern world. And man, is it gorgeous to look at, Shelvey and Bellaire are producing some of the best looking comic art I’ve seen in a long time. If you’re not reading this title, rectify that immediately.
The Punisher #4– With this issue, Nathan Edmondson really ramps up the stakes of the story, as not only are the Dos Soles getting closer to their big attack on Los Angeles, but the Howling Commandoes get more and more dangerous, and another surprising player comes onto the scene.
The issue begins with Sidewinder, the head of the Howling Commandoes, being contacted by whoever it is that hired them, and being told to stop pussyfooting around The Punisher, and to just kill him. It’s still a mystery who hired them, but we do see that someone has surveillance on them. They are spying on Frank, but who’s spying on them? I get the feeling that Frank is involved in something much bigger than he’s prepared for.
But more immediately, he’s got to deal with being tortured and electrified by Electro. Del Sol doesn’t want Electro to kill Frank, as he plans to sell him to the highest bidder, but Electro seems to have other ideas, and wants the Punisher all to himself. Electro’s attacks trigger flashbacks in Frank’s mind, and I think we can guess what to, the deaths of his family, which, not matter how many times you see it, is always tragic. With that motivation fresh in his mind, Frank is able to escape. He pushes his chair backwards out of the window, and onto the warehouse floor. Surrounded by Dos Soles and unarmed, Punisher needs a weapon, and fast. He grabs a canister of the mystery gas, which stops the thugs from shooting at him, and then he throws it. Whilst they scramble to stop it from landing on the floor and presumably killing all of them when it breaks, Frank is able to punch one of them out, grab his gun and kill the others in one fluid movement. Mitch Gerads’ art always shines in these action sequences, his Punisher is a serious bad-ass.
Del Sol and Electro retreat, but not before blowing up the entire base… with Frank inside. He of course survives to regroup with Tuggs and Loot and get ready for the final push to stop the Dos Soles’ chemical attack.
There’s an interesting scene where Officer Sam hears about the Explosion on the TV and looks at her Badge. I really hope we’re not getting another ‘Lady Punisher’, but let’s wait and see. I really liked the scene at the Dos Soles’ new base, where Electro finally snaps against Del Sol, and tells him that he doesn’t work for him, and doesn’t appreciate being ordered around like this. It looks like Electro has hidden goals all of his own, and I like that he’s not just hired muscle. In a series that’s mostly street-level, his powers are massively significant.
After Tuggs leaves Frank (and his awesome underground bunker, you should be able to have one of those on GTA V), he heads home, where he is attacked and captured by the Howling Commandoes. It’s all happening at once for Frank, and he’ll probably be faced with a hard choice next issue, does he stop the Dos Soles? Or does he try and save Tuggs and get exposed to the Commandoes?
The issue ends with a very interesting scene indeed, as we learn that AIM have more planned than just a gas attack. They approach none other than Domino to break into a SHIELD building whilst the Dos Soles attack is happening. Is this chemical bomb all just a distraction for something bigger? Oh man. I actually think AIM are the big cheeses in all of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the ones who hired the Commandoes. How awesome would it be to have an epic Punisher Vs AIM storyline? I am surprised to see Domino back doing stuff like this, when most recently she was a heroic member of X-Force, but I suppose that’s her character, she’s just out for money.
This was the best issue of this book so far, all of Edmondson’s various plot threads are coming together, and things look grim for Frank Castle, I can’t wait to see how bloody it’s gonna get.
Inhuman #1– I really think it was a mistake to put Joe Madureira on this title. His slow speed, combined with Matt Fraction dropping out to be replaced by Charles Soule, has lead to this title coming out a lot later than it should have, with pretty much all of the momentum and excitement gone. This should have been available right after Infinity, but now? The cover says that it’s Marvel’s latest epic, but that’s not true, Original Sin is Marvel’s latest epic, and it starts in only a few weeks.
But with that said, this comic is actually pretty good, and it sets the stage for what should be an interesting story. It’s just a shame it’s probably not going to have the impact it should. The issue begins in Bergen, Norway, where a young man named Kristian gets into a bar-fight, and talks to his friend about how he knows he’s destined for something different. It turns out he is, as Bergen is hit by the Terrigenesis cloud, and Kristian begins to transform. His cocoon is picked up by another Inhuman called ‘Lash’ to takes him out into the wilderness to wait for Kristian to hatch. Lash talks to the Coccoon, and reveals that he is an Inhuman from the hidden city of Orollan, which was Thane’s home in Infinity. In Orollan, there wasn’t much Terrigen Crystal to go around, so only a select few were exposed to it. Lash is angry at Black Bolt for how profligate he was with the Terrigenesis, and disagrees vehemently with the decision to expose the whole planet to it. He doesn’t see Terrigenesis as an Inhuman right, but as a privilege. He proves this by killing poor Kristian as soon as he hatches, as he’s come out as a weak and pitiful freak. So much for Kristian’s special destiny.
Elsewhere, Medusa is woken up by her handmaiden, and told that they’ve found Eldrac, the Inhuman Door that sent her people across the planet. Medusa asks Eldrac to send her where she needs to be, assuming this will send her to either Black Bolt or her son, but nope, she’s sent to Illinois.
It’s here that we are introduced to another new Inhuman, Dante, a struggling musician trying to help his sick mother and pregnant sister. Just as Dante is about to leave, the Terrigenesis hits both him, and his mother. Lash appears in order to judge these new Inhumans. Dante’s mother didn’t survive the process, and is unworthy, and it looks like Dante is too, as he emerges unchanged. Lash prepares to kill him like he did Kristian, but instead, Dante reveals his new powers, he can set himself on fire. He manages to fight off Lash, with the help of the teleported in Medusa, who, as the issue ends, welcomes him to the Inhuman race, and tells him that it’s time to pick a side.
I thought this was an intriguing opening issue. The scenes with Kristian and Dante experiencing their Terrigenesis were a bit generic, the stuff you’ve seen in a 1000 issues of X-Men when new Mutants are discovered, but there is an added edge of horror there, and already Charles Soule has introduced 2 recognisable groups of Inhuman viewpoints that should make for interesting clashes, and from Fraction’s one-shots, we know there are more factors involved. I liked the twist of Kristian immediately being killed too, it surprised me.
I know I criticized Joe Mad earlier, but he is a good artist, and this book looked good, with a similar look to his previous Ultimates 3 work. He has a unique style and since this isn’t really a superhero comic, it fits, and Medusa’s hair has never looked so good. I do hope people still check this book out, and that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, Soule is really being allowed to shake things up for the Inhumans here, and this is something new for the Marvel Universe.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #200– With the Ultimate Universe thankfully sticking around, Brian Michael Bendis takes a breather before jumping right back into Miles Morales’ adventures to celebrate 200 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man and remember the much-missed Ultimate Peter Parker. As much as I like Miles, I still miss Peter and get sad when I think about his death, so this was a bitter-sweet emotional issue for how it looked to the past, but also to futures we could have had, but never did.
It’s the 2-year Anniversary of Peter’s death, so Aunt May has invited everyone to a special memorial celebration at her house. Bendis begins with a few short scenes of everyone arriving. Miles and Ganke have taken the bus, and are both feeling kind of awkward about attending this ceremony for someone they didn’t know. Well, Miles is feeling that, Ganke is just nervous about the Lego gift he’s made for Gwen Stacy. Miles thinks this is a bad idea, but it turns out not to be, as Gwen loves the gift and even kisses Ganke. It’s not made clear what he made for her, but it was a nice moment, and great for Ganke to get a win.
MJ decides to go to the party alone, without her new boyfriend, which makes sense, and we also see Spider-Woman having trouble getting Bombshell to agree to come. I think my favourite was Iceman, Firestar and Human Torch flying to the house, where the close proximity of two fire-people caused Iceman’s slide to melt. I will never tire of Bendis’ depiction of idiotic Iceman, it’s so funny.
Once at the party, we get the aforementioned Lego-inspired kiss between Ganke and Gwen, and Tony Stark sends over way too much food to make up for not being there. Kitty Pryde arrives, and we also get a surprise appearance by Kong! We haven’t see Kenny for a long time, and it was never really explained where he and Kitty went together, so it was great to have him back, and to reunite with everyone. He’s been a part of this book since #1 after all. I wonder why Flash Thompson didn’t come to the party? Also not attending is J. Jonah Jameson, who sits outside in his Limo but can’t bring himself to go inside.
The party mainly involves everyone sitting around and talking about what kind of future they imagined for Peter if he hadn’t died. These were great not because they brought back previous USM artists like David LaFuente, Sara Pichelli, Mark Brooks and of course Mark Bagley, but because they all (except for Iceman’s, but then he seems to have just invented the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon) seem like plausible ways Bendis could have gone with the book. It seemed like he was setting up a lot of stuff for Ultimate Peter, like his growing involvement in The Ultimates, before he just up and died. All of these would have been interesting comics, but I do think that what we actually have is for the best.
It was awesome to have all of those artists return (although I was surprised that there was no Immonen pages, he drew some of this book’s best stories), and Dave Marquez once again was excellent on the main story, his facial expressions got across some high emotions wonderfully.
Gwen then says she feels like they should do something good to someone who needs it to honour Peter’s memory, and Miles comes up with just the right thing. They go to the Queen’s homeless mission, and donate all of the leftover food to the people there. These wordless few pages were just great, and actually made me almost well up. I didn’t cry like I did when Peter actually died, or his Funeral issue, but still, to see that he didn’t die for nothing was just great. Miles is a true successor, and just as good a Spider-Man, and not just because of his powers, but because of who he is as a human being.
The issue ends with everyone leaving the party, but there’s a surprising twist, as we see a shadowy figure with a very familiar hairstyle watching on. We are obviously meant to think this is somehow Peter Parker back to life, but I don’t think it is. I imagine it’s one of the remaining Peter Parker clones from the Clone Saga, perhaps The Scorpion or Kaine. Did either of those die? I can’t remember. But yeah, having Miles go up against a clone of Peter will be very interesting indeed.
This was just a wonderful, emotional way to mark 200 issues of this series, I hope we get 200 more!
Action Comics #30– Another strong issue of Action, as Greg Pak not only wraps up the current storyline, but also sets up the new ‘Doomed’ crossover, which looks to be doing something actually new and interesting with the mindless brute.
Pak begins with Doomsday, as we see that he has finally, fully escaped the Phantom Zone and is wandering free in the Arctic. He’s being monitored by Tower Control, the same people behind Ghost Soldier, but as I said, there’s something different about Doomsday. He spots some people, but rather than kill them… he runs away, smashing the ice and diving into the water. This does end up actually killing those people, but still, it’s not like Doomsday to run from anything.
In the main story, Superman is very very pissed off after the events of the last few issues, and he flies right at Tower Control in a rage. He freezes the other Ghost Soldiers who come at him, and ends up face to face with their leader, Harrow. Harrow basically lectures Superman about his flawed method of crime-fighting, and says that his unwillingness to make the hard choices is why she and Ghost Soldier have had to. Pak ties in a lot of stuff from other Superman stories here, such as the killing of Doctor Light in Justice League, which is cool. Too often lately each Superman appearance has felt like a completely different character. However, this does mean that Pak inadvertently spoils the next issue of Superman/Wonder Woman, as we find out that Tower Control will attack Wonder Woman.
Harrow asks Supes to leave, and he refuses, which means that Harrow is forced to reveal her powers, which are the ability to resurrect the dead. A zombie ghost army attacks Superman, but he soon realizes that they aren’t exactly happy to be zombie ghosts, and turns them around on Harrow. She is forced to release them, which leaves her very weakened. I really liked this end sequence, where Superman tells Harrow lets go of his anger towards her and says that he wants to work together. You think it’s going to go that way, but instead, Superman’s mercy here is just proving Harrow’s point, he’s too weak to make the choice and kill her now. I mean, should he really want to work with someone with such heinous abilities? She and Ghost Soldier disappear, vowing that the next time they meet, she won’t make the same mistake as Superman… she’ll kill him. I know a lot of people are bored with stories that make Superman and the reader question his methods, but I think this one is different, as Pak isn’t going to have him ever really compromise them. This isn’t going to get to Man Of Steel territory. Or at least I hope not.
The issue ends with another Doomsday scene, as Tower Control get him back under surveillance, and well, underwater, he’s going through some kind of weird metamorphosis. I’m very intrigued by what the character will look like, as the old version is all kinds of stale. He was created for one purpose, to kill Superman, and without that, he’s nothing. Time for something new.
I’ve very much enjoyed Aaron Kuder’s art on this book, and so it was a bit annoying to have fill-ins, but both Jed Dougherty and Karl Kerschl did excellent jobs at keeping the same style, which meant it wasn’t too big of a problem. Pak’s run has been great so far, I really hope this crossover doesn’t derail it.
Green Lantern #30– The war inches closer in another exciting issue that sees Hal start to atone for some of his mistakes and become a real leader.
The issue starts with a nice, emotional scene where Hal and Morro open up the new Corps Crypt. Given all of the Lanterns that have died in recent stories, this is more than necessary. Of course, the central death being commemorated here is Kyle Rayner’s, and it was good to see Hal show real emotion about it, even if it is weird knowing that Kyle isn’t actually dead at all. Hal remarks later that he needs to talk about this with Carol Ferris, but as we know, she’s out there with Kyle. I wonder what the reaction will be when the rest of the Corps finds out that Kyle is alive? At this point, they might be more pissed off than happy about it.
After this, Hal and his new Advisors (Kilowog, Salaak and Two-Six) get back to the business in hand, the war with the Durlans. Their destination is an interstellar port where a Khund Warship is docked. Salaak has a pre-existing relationship with the member of the Trading Company that runs the port, who’s a cute little dog man. This dog man stops the Lanterns and Khunds from killing each other right there, as he and his company pride themselves on staying neutral in all conflicts. The only way to resolve their argument aboard the port is through single combat. Sometimes I think Earth is the only culture in the universe that doesn’t solve everything through combat. Hal of course volunteers, and so a fight is set up between him and a Khund General. If Hal wins, they get to commandeer the Warship. If the Khundn wins, he can take all 4 Lanterns into custody, and you can bet that having the leader of the Corps in chains would be very advantageous to the Khund/Durlan alliance.
Venditti continues to write Hal brilliantly well, particularly in the short scene before the fight, where Hal, the other Lanterns and the Khunds are in the bar, getting ready. Hal and the Khund talk, and they realize that, in another life, they might have been friends. But they aren’t friends, and the fight between them is pretty brutal, especially as Hal can’t use his ring. But we see Hal finally start to think before just jumping in, and he is pretty damn sneaky here. He causes the Khund to get his 2-bladed dagger thing stuck in the wall, and then manages to maneuver him into slamming into his own weapon. Hal wins, but he still wants to save his opponent’s life. But the other Khunds aren’t having it, nope, he lost, so he dies, they kill him, and say that Hal saving him would have offended him. The Khund’s certainly are a different species. So now the Corps has a Khund warship? What are they gonna do with it? That’s going to be weird.
The issue ends with the Durlan spy being discovered by the other Lanterns, and killed by Mukmuk, the fish Lantern who found his supply of energy last time. It looks like Mukmuk is a Durlan also, and that the conspiracy goes a lot deeper than thought. I’m ready for this event to begin now, the build-up has been brilliant, and now all of those dominoes are going to topple in glorious fashion. Hal might think he got a win here, but he doesn’t know what’s coming.
Martin Coccolo steps up to draw the whole of the issue this time, and his work looked a lot better here than the few pages we got last time, reminding me almost of Francis Manapul, but that might just be because of the Detective Comics preview in the back!
Swamp Thing #30– If you’re not reading Swamp Thing right now, you’re missing out on what is not only one of DC’s best books, but also one of the best comics being published by anyone. Each issue sees Charles Soule do something new and surprising with the character and his world, and this was no exception.
We begin with a brief glimpse of what’s going on with Swamp Thing’s body. It’s been taken to Germany to be experimented on. Back in Louisiana, Capucine and Jonah find Wolf and Lady Weeds (who is now heavily tatted up) and take them back to the house, where they find the aftermath of a fire, and Swamp Thing nowhere to be seen. They find the human body Swamp Thing’s mind is now stuck in, and work out that it’s been poisoned with belladonna. After reviving it, Alec is quickly able to establish who he is, which is good, I think too much disbelief would not only be a tiresome cliché, but also not make sense in the crazy world this book takes place in. But that doesn’t mean Swampy doesn’t still have problems, as it turns out that if he doesn’t return to his body within the next few days, both it, and his current human form, will die. It’s a bit contrived that Jonah didn’t say this last issue, but hey, he was high on magic fruit.
So the first order of business is to locate The Sureen, and luckily, Capucine knows someone who can help, it’s only Vandal bloody Savage! It makes sense that these 2 immortals would know each other, and Soule writes the character very well. These days, Savage is less of an outright villain, and he’s a lot of fun. Savage agrees to disclose the location of The Sureen, but only if he’s given something in return… a sparring session with Capucine. This fight was awesome, you could feel the sexual tension between them, and Jesus Saiz’s art was just spot on, perfectly choreographed. Capucine basically whups Savage’s ass, but just getting to spar is enough for him, so he tells everyone where they need to go to find The Sureen… India.
But wait, haven’t we already seen that they are in Germany? How does that work? Well, duh, The Sureen we saw last time aren’t the real deal, in fact, the real cult is now just one old man, Master Gaurav. Gaurav needs to scour ancient books to come up with some way to save Alec’s life, and in the meantime, he tells him to try and enjoy being human just a little, and sends him out into Bangalore with his ‘colleague’, an attractive woman named Miki.
Meanwhile, we see what the mysterious Germans are doing to the Swamp Thing body. They are cutting it up, and seem to be trying to use it to grow plants and fruits instantaneously. It would be very interesting if the reasoning behind this evil deed was actually a heroic one, with the Germans wanting to feed the world. But it’s probably darker than that, with their experiments killing people and all that.
The issue ends with a very creepy scene with Miki coming onto Alec and them making out but uh, there’s something really fucked up with her tongue and weird tendrils start coming out of all of the orifices on her face. She says that The Sureen don’t just give their gift to The Green, so what, is she a part of The Red? Or The Rot? Soule has mostly stayed away from those elements that Scott Snyder used heavily, but it would be great to have them return, but equally cool for it to be something new. Either way, it was a really fucking creepy visual and another mindfuck to end an issue on.
I really can’t praise this title enough right now, I have no idea where Soule is going, but I know it’ll be good, with plenty more twists and turns to come.
Aquaman And The Others #1– I love that we live in a world where Aquaman has 2 ongoing series, it’s so great, and what makes it even better is that this is a series that’s less about Aquaman himself, than about the rest of ‘The Others’, all of whom are new characters created after the beginning of The New 52, which is something that should be praised. For once, this isn’t DC looking back and re-hashing the past, they are looking forward. Whilst it’s a bit of a shame that John Ostrander, the man who wrote the last 2 Others stories, Dan Jurgens is a strong writer, and here he delivers his usual excellent, old-school superhero fun.
The issue begins with a flashback to 1000s of years ago, where we see King Atlan kill the Alchemist he hired to forge the various magical artifacts Aquaman and the Others use.
Back in the present day, we then get a series of scenes where each of The Others are attacked by a mysterious group who are after their artifacts, and also that, during these attacks, the artifacts stop working. These are useful scenes as they should help explain to any readers who aren’t familiar with these characters who they are and what their powers are supposed to be… even when they can’t use them. So we see Prisoner Of War, Ya’Wara, Sky and The Operative showcase their skills, and what makes them cool characters.
Aquaman shows up during the attack on The Operative, and helps him fight off the black-clad mercenaries and bring this loose-knit team back together. We then get a brief glimpse of the forces behind these attacks, and it seems to me like it’s the Alchemist we saw killed by Atlan at the start, out for revenge and to get his gold back. On board The Operative’s plane, The Living Room (Aquaman is right, it is a terrible name), the heroes try and work out what’s going on, and Aquaman reveals that the reason for the power loss might be because the artifacts haven’t been near enough to someone of the Atlantean royal bloodline, as his staff is still working fine. I think this makes sense, and is a good reason for this non-team to lose the non. If the rest of The Others want to keep their powers, they need to stay in regular contact with Aquaman. But there will be issues there, and once again, Ya’Wara’s jealous feelings about Aquaman and Mera come to the surface. I don’t much hold with ‘shipping’, but I’m Team Ya’Wara here, Mera is terrible.
Before the team can formulate any real plans however, their plane is shot out of the sky. Uh oh.
The issue ends with a very interesting scene focusing on the family members of one of the former members of The Others, Kahina. We see her husband being refused access to the hospital where her sister has been taken for being insane. It looks like this sister, Sayeh, may have the same psychic abilities as Kahina, as she is kidnapped by the same mysterious forces that came after everyone else. We get a brief glimpse of the future she is so scared of, and well, it’s full of OMACs. Yep, it looks like this series is somehow tied into or setting up the new Future’s End weekly series. I’m not too interested in that book, but who knows, Jurgens may convince me here.
Overall, this was a strong opening issue, it reintroduced the characters, made Aquaman look like the headline star that he is, and set up some interesting plotlines. It’s not reinventing the superhero wheel, but it’s well-written and Lan Medina’s artwork is strong too. And as I said, outside of Aquaman, this book is about new, diverse characters, even the white man is far older than most superheroes.
Trillium #8(of 8)– Jeff Lemire wraps up his epic love story in fine style, as Nika and William finally reunite and save humanity. This has been a strange series throughout, and this issue did end on a rather odd note, and with plenty of questions left unanswered, but it was still very satisfying, and actually quite beautiful.
In the Year 3797, William, Nika and Clay are the only humans left not in Cryo-sleep, and therefore the only ones who are able to stop the crash-landing of a ship infested with the evil Caul. Clay valiantly sacrifices himself, flying a smaller ship into the Caul, allowing Nika and William to fly away with the Cryo-Chamber and get to safety. Right as he explodes, Clay remembers his real history and timeline, which was a nice moment. This series has been heavily focused on the 2 main characters, and rightly so, but it was good to see a secondary character get some redemption.
However, Nika and William haven’t escaped unscathed, as their ship was hit by some debris, and they need to uncouple the cockpit from the Cryo-chamber and wouldn’t you know, it needs to be done manually. Rather than be apart from each other, they decide to do it together, and out in the middle of space, separate the 2 ship-parts. Yes, this is Nika and William dooming themselves to die, but it’s saving the rest of humanity in the process, as Essie takes over control of the ship and will try and pilot it to a new planet, far away from the Caul. As sad as it was when Clay died, it was worse when Essie was separated from the two humans, that computer was a vital, ever-present part of this book.
Rather than just float around aimlessly until running out of air, Nika tells William that they should try and go into the nearby Black Hole. The weird interdimensional journey from last issue apparently took place inside a Black Hole, or at least Nika thinks so, and if they enter it, they might find their way to some new place. Or they might just die. Our two humans float towards the hole and get sucked in, which leads to a final, trippy sequence, and even, somehow, William and Nika saving each other in their previous moments of need. We then see the two lovers entwined together, which blends into a child’s drawing on a primitive tent. These tents are surrounded by a space-ship, so I’m guessing this is the new home of humanity. Nika and William succeeded!
The art once again was brilliant, and I feel that I’ve been remiss in not mentioning Jose Villarrubia’s colours as much as I should, but he and Lemire just work wonderfully together. And to think that before Sweet Tooth I thought Lemire’s art wouldn’t look good with colour! This was a brilliant ending to a very unique comic, I can’t wait to go back and read it all over again. If you like Lemire’s DC superhero work, make sure to pick this up, it’s a complete story, and it features something for everyone, history, science fiction, action, mystery, and most important of all… romance.
Black Science #5– Another great issue of Black Science, and one that really increases the scope of the series. I don’t mean in terms of setting, because Remender has a whole fucking multiverse to play with here, but in terms of the characters, and their relationships.
After a brief opening sequence with Kadir complaining about Grant (is it just me, or is the initial ‘Grant is good, Kadir is bad’ viewpoint looking increasingly simplistic? Both of them are tools, and Kadir might actually be the lesser of 2 evils) the main story involves Grant telling his kids that they are about to try the Pillar again in a few hours, and to get ready. But before they can, the mysterious masked man who teleported in last issue shows up, knocks out Shawn and kidnaps the kids.
Grant gives chase, and knocks of the mask, revealing the man to be… Grant McKay!?! It’s an older, more battle-scarred Grant, who has followed our versions of these characters, along with his wife, to try and rescue the children. It turns out that when this Grant activated his Pillar, it exploded, killing their kids, and since then, he and his team have been going through the Eververse and trying to stop other versions of Grant McKay and his team from damaging things, and, most importantly, trying to save the different versions of the children. It turns out that it’s pretty much a constant that Pia and Nathan end up dead, which is pretty dark stuff. Maybe Grant should just let them take his kids away? Nah, that would be ridiculous, and besides, the children are intelligent enough to know that these aren’t their real parents.
Grant is able to save them, and force these alternate versions of himself and his wife to leave. But before they do, the other Grant tells our Grant who the Pillar saboteur was. It was Kadir. It’s apparently always Kadir, and he’s a real danger to the kids.
Grant and the kids arrive back at the Pillar just in time, and as they transport, Grant socks Kadir right in the mouth. But it seems like there’s something different about this universe’s characters, as when confronted about sabotaging the Pillar, Kadir says it wasn’t him… it was Rebecca. Is this true? If it is, then everything the other Grant says can be dismissed. Or is he lying? Grant doesn’t really stop to think about these issues, and instead leaps at Kadir, and they both begin to fall into a hollowed-out mountain full of creepy white monkey-men. These last 2 issues have mostly been about fleshing out the characters in a relatively safe universe, but now we’re back to the crazy weirdness, I can’t wait to see what the deal is with these Monkeys.
Matteo Scalera’s art was once again excellent, I kind of skipped over the actiony, chase scenes earlier, but they were well-drawn, with great pacing and a nice variety of funky looking aliens. I also liked how he made the 2 Grant McKay’s look similar but different.
I think this was the best issue of this book so far, I hadn’t even considered there being other versions of our main characters out there doing the same thing, but it makes total sense, and I love that Remender got to it so early, and that he used it to really explode the plot.
Pretty Deadly #5– The final issue of the first Pretty Deadly arc is here, and I have to admit, I’m still pretty confused by a lot of it. I think I get what happened, but a lot is still unclear. I think I need to go back and do a re-read of this whole story before the next one begins. Although from the looks of things, this was all just an extended origin story, and the adventures of Deathface Ginny should be a bit easier to follow from now on.
After another inscrutable bunny and butterfly sequence, we are back at the Gates of Death’s domain, with Big Alice trying to stop Ginny, Sissy and everyone getting in. Ginny and Alice have another fight, which is good, but not quite as awesome as the first one they had a few issues back. In the end, it’s not Ginny who takes care of Alice, but Johnny Coyote anyway.
After this, the group has to make their way past those 3 creepy ‘Maidens’. The narration here actually made things more confusing for me, it was all beautifully written, but in a way that obfuscated the true meaning. Ginny tried to convince them to let them through, but failed, but Sissy was more successful, as well, she’s the new Death. I did like the short scene where Sissy asks Fox why it’s bad that the current Death wants to do away with the concept of dying, that was interesting and clever. It was interesting too that Sarah wasn’t allowed in, as she is still actually, fully alive, I imagine we’ll see her again.
Inside Death’s domain, he’s made it look like the Western town we saw back in #1 and there’s an awesome shoot-out between our ‘heroes’ and Death. He even ends up killing poor old Johnny Coyote, who had a pretty shitty time throughout this story. The final fight here between Ginny and her father was excellent, Emma Rios’ art is perfect for these weird action scenes, giving them a lyrical beauty that sets them apart from your normal comic-book slugfest. In the end though, much like against Big Alice, it’s not Ginny who strikes the final blow, as he actually ‘kills’ her, but Ginny’s mother. She stabs Death in the back, killing him, and allowing Sissy to become the new Death. Ginny’s mother sets eyes on Fox, the Mason who trapped her and led to all of this happening and forgives him.
In the end, we see that Sissy, as the new Death, used the key that Ginny gave her to hide ‘the soul of the Universe’, which might actually be what Bones Bunny and Butterfly are, I dunno. We also see that Sissy resurrected Ginny and sent her out into the world for more adventures, which, from the looks of the single, cinematic panel we get, look like being more on the Western side of this weird fantasy-western hybrid, which is great by me.
Even at the end of this arc, I still don’t know what I think about Pretty Deadly. Part of me really likes it, the art especially, but I also think a lot of it is ridiculous nonsense. As I said, I definitely need to re-read this. I would recommend the trade, it’s certainly unlike anything else out there, and again, Rios’ art, along with Bellaire’s colours, are beautiful.
Starlight #2– The story that Mark Millar is telling here is a simple one, but as ever, what matters isn’t what the story is, but how it’s told, and he’s telling it really well. It’s full of the charm and fun that Millar’s best work has, and very little of the cynicism that often drags him down.
The story here mostly involves Duke McQueen meeting the young Alien who has come to Earth to bring him back to save the planet Tantalus. This kid, whose name is Krish Moore tells Duke that, after the age of peace that he helped usher in, Tantalus was too civilized and weak to resist being conquered by an evil race called ‘The Broteans’ and their leader ‘The Kingfisher’ and that he needs Duke to come back and help lead the rebels to victory. Duke initially refuses, as he’s an old man, but after thinking it over in the night, he agrees. I like the way Millar deconstructs the Flash Gordon archetype throughout this book. Krish has come to Earth expecting Duke to be as much of a hero here as he is on Tantalus, but nope, more realistically, he’s seen as a crazy joke. I think the key here is that it’s not maliciously realistic, like say, Kick-Ass can get, but just real, and very poignant because of that.
Duke and Krish board the ship, which, in another nice touch is a deliberately retro design, like a classic car, but a space-ship. I also like that Duke initially can’t fly the thing properly. This is an old man character that actually is realistically old. They fly up into space, with Duke not wanting to use a cloaking device so he can stick it to the people who didn’t believe him. But that backfires, as he attracts the attention of some US Airforce Planes who want to bring him in. To avoid this, he hits the hyperdrive, and they warp all the way to Tantalus, and yep, it’s in a bad way. I think Duke McQueen might have bitten off more than he can chew.
Goran Parlov’s art was once again brilliant, Duke McQueen’s face alone brings this title a whole load of pathos, and I really liked the way he drew the alien Krish as looking slightly out of place on Earth. He’s more cartoonish, and his Anime hair is impossible. It’s going to be awesome to see Parlov really cut loose now that the story has fully moved away from Earth.
I think this is the best thing I’ve read from Mark Millar since Superior, (although I am loving Jupiter’s Legacy), it’s the writer at his best, telling a fun, clever story with brilliant art.
My fave this week was Moon Knight #2, it’s too good, it’s insane.
Join me next week for the likes of All-New Ultimates, Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, Green Lantern Corps, Flash Gordon and another Anniversary, as we celebrate 50 Years of Daredevil!