Hello, and welcome to a very special edition of This Week In Punchy. Why is it special? Well, because this week we go EVENT COMICS CRAZY. Not do Marvel deliver the second chapter of Infinity, but we also get the start of X-Men: Battle Of The Atom and on the DC side there’s the start of Forever Evil and Villain’s Month that goes along with it. Man, I remember when events were supposed to be summer things, now they’re more about winter, but I don’t mind. In terms of non-event comics, there’s new issues of Superior Spider-Man, Avengers A.I., Iron Man, Trillium, Satellite Sam and Invincible. It’s a packed week, and it’s in 3D! (OK, not really, but some of the comics are)
As per usual, click the links to head to the forum discussions, where you can give your two cents on everything comics-related this week.
Superior Spider-Man #17– Time for me to admit a big failing here, and that failing is that I’ve actually never read any Spider-Man 2099 stories. I mean, I know who the character is and his basic back-story, as well as reading one or two stories when he was a member of the Exiles, but I’ve never read an actual Miguel O’Hara story.
But that said, it’s still awesome to see this Spider-Man come face to face with the current version, and the way Dan Slott is doing it is very clever, and you can tell a lot of thought has gone into this particular time-travel story.
Pretty much the entire first half of the comic is focused on Spider-Man 2099, as Slott sets up who the character is and gives neophytes like myself all the information we need about him, about the evil ‘Alchemax Corporation’ and his origins, like Miguel being the son of Alchemax head, Tyler Stone. In the year 2099, time-stuff is being fucked up, with Dinosaurs popping up randomly, at first, it seems like this is yet another after-effect of Age Of Ultron, but there’s more to it than that, as something seems to be wiping Tyler Stone out of existence, and Spider-Man 2099 needs to save his dad to save himself. I loved the explanation of why Spider-Man had to go back in time, it was because he had already done it! Man, time-travel is complicated. From following him on Twitter, I know that Dan Slott is a big fan of Doctor Who, and it’s clear he’s having a blast using time-travel clichés.
So, Spider-Man 2099 travels to the present, and I just love the way Dan Slott has connected ongoing subplots into the possible future. How Tiberius Stone, the ex-Horizon Labs scientist turned Kingpin lackey is the father of Tyler Stone, and hence Spider-Man 2099’s granddad. It’s also very cool how Stone’s attempted takeover of Horizon as an advisor to ‘Allan Chemical’ AKA Al Chem is what will lead to the creation of the evil Alchemax corporation (Al Chem + Max Modell = Alchemax, which is very clever). I wonder if Slott had all of this planned in advance or if it’s reverse-engineered? Either way, it’s cleverly done and is a great use of continuity, and more importantly a brilliant impetus for this story and a clever reason for the two Spider-Men to fight each other. SpOck needs to stop Stone from taking over Horizon to keep his job, but if he does so, he wipes out Miguel O’Hara from existence!
I also like how Slott brought back Grady Scraps’ time-door from that one story, the rest of the Horizon employees have been less prominent in the Superior Era, so it was cool to have them back again. It was also great to see Liz Allan and little Normie Osborn show up again, I like those characters, although it’s sad to see Normie go down a dark path.
Speaking of Osborns (although, Green Goblin may not even be an Osborn), we get a brief glimpse into the Goblin Underground here, and see the seeds of a new plan brewing, this is a slow-burner, but it will be worth it in the end. We also see some of the fall-out of the Hobgoblin stuff at the Bugle, with Robbie being very cautious about what footage he runs. It’s great that Slott still makes time for subplots like this in amongst the time-travel crossover fun.
But really, the main thing here is the awesome conflict that’s set to come between Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099, those last few pages are awesome, and I can’t wait to see them fight in earnest next issue. I would probably enjoy this issue more if I was a 2099 fan from back in the day, but Slott does an excellent job of bringing me up to speed, and the way he ties both timelines together works amazingly, even if we don’t use that adjective around here anymore.
It’s also great to have Ryan Stegman back on board with this issue, his take on Spider-Man 2099’s costume is excellent. If you’re still a Superior hater, try this issue out, it has a heroic Spider-Man you do like in it alongside the brilliance that is SpOck, the best of both worlds!
Iron Man #15– Another very enjoyable issue of Iron Man, and one that’s made even better by the departure of Greg Land. I’m no Land hater, I actually kind of like him, and I’m looking forward to Mighty Avengers, but Pagulayan is just a massive upgrade, and for an issue like this, that really ups the action quotient, an artist like him is much preferable to Land’s more static stylings.
The stakes here continue to be incredibly high, as the Godkiller is hurtling towards Earth and Tony has no way to stop it because 451’s epic plans have failed and he can’t actually control it. I love how Gillen has subverted things here, he goes into all this detail and retcons all of this stuff we thought we knew about Tony Stark to make it so he was bred specifically for a special destiny, only it doesn’t work. So much for millennia-long plans. Too often in comics (cough, Hickman, cough), people have these grand schemes that work like clockwork, and it’s so much fun to see a villain just fuck up. And man, 451’s reaction to that fuck-up is amazing.
But before that, there’s the matter of he and Iron Man finally getting into a fight, as Tony tools up a load more armours to team-up with. I’m pretty sure these are all of the various speciality armours he used in the first arc of this series, which is a great call-back. At the time, those one-off stories felt odd, but now they are back with a purpose, although that purpose is to be blown up. I loved this action scene between the various Iron Man armours and 451 and his… I don’t know what they are, psychic clones? Like Tony says, after all of this mind-bending, epically-sized cosmic craziness, it was good to have something simple like a punch-fest.
In the end, Iron Man defeats 451, and convinces him to steer the Godkiller away from the Earth (yay!), but man, 451’s reaction to his failure is disturbing, it’s rare to see a villain so totally defeated, so ruined. It was shocking, Gillen once again surprises me with where he’s willing to go.
Of course, Iron Man’s troubles aren’t over yet, as 451, in his insanity, needs to get rid of the Godkiller, but he can’t destroy it, so he needs to ‘fold it outside of reality’, which is… pretty crazy. Once again, this book is going somewhere different, I can’t wait for what’s next.
Avengers A.I. #3– Man, I am loving this book, Sam Humphries is going for it with this title, and he’s pushing the idea of Artificial Intelligence in the Marvel Universe way beyond simple robots and androids.
This book takes place across two different worlds, the first of these is the real world, where Pym and his team have to deal with the aftermath of the Sentinel’s attack and Dimitrios’ address. Not only is the Vision mostly destroyed, but the humans are out for, well, not blood, but whatever the A.I. equivelent is, oil? Anyway, they are out for it and they don’t trust robots, as they attack poor old Victor Mancha. It’s great how this book is playing up a humans vs A.I. battle, even though we’ve seen similar stuff before with the X-Men, Humphries is speeding up the process a lot, and since this is one title, not billions, he has more freedom.
Of course, the darkness of humans turning on our heroes is lightened by some great Doombot lines, I love you Doombot.
The other world is the world of the A.I., known as ‘The Diamond’, which is that weird, impossible shape from last issue. I love the way Araujo draws this world, it’s so out there, and well, other-wordly, Araujo’s detailed yet cartoonish artwork is a perfect fit for this book, it’s a book about insane concepts, but there is a lightness of touch to Humphries’ writing too. I also love how accelerated the timeline of The Diamond is, in the time in-between Age Of Ultron #10 and Avengers A.I. #1, a whole society has sprung up and gone through centuries, and they even have some kind of epic creation myth. Humphries is really bringing some off the wall ideas here, and it works. I really loved how Humphries and Araujo showed that time passes differently in The Diamond compared the real world, in the time it takes Victor Mancha to say 3 words, Dimitrios and The Vision can have long conversations and speeches. It was a very effective technique.
But the core character here is the Vision, as he has to decide between whether or not to side with the Avengers, and with the humans, or with the Diamond, and his fellow A.I., people who view him as the son of God. I’ve always been a big fan of the Vision, so it’s great to see him so central to an Avengers book, and have him tackle the core issues of his identity so head on. This is a great book after only 3 issues, and I can’t wait to see what decision Vizh makes, and just how the Avengers are supposed to fight against these hyper-evolved A.I.s.
Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #3– Just like Avengers A.I. this is a book that has dove straight into my heart and become one of my favourite comics already. This book is such a unique delight, and Nick Spencer’s writing of Boomerang is so perfect, I could read him rambling on about nonsense all day. This issue was full of great fun moments, off-beat takes on the Marvel Universe, and also a few surprising twists. Since Hawkeye is taking it’s sweet, sweet time releasing new issues, this should be your go-to for street-level awesomeness.
This issue opens with Boomerang giving us a recap on the history of Silvermane and his missing head, as I said, Boomerang’s inner voice is amazing, and Spencer manages to make all of this exposition enormously entertaining, especially when Boomerang deviates to tell an underground myth where the head was found by a young boy and he and Silvermane become friends, a la The Iron Giant, but of course, that’s bullshit, The Owl has Silvermane’s head under lock and key. I just love how cynical this title is.
We then see Boomerang in a meeting with his new parole officer, Mach VII, the former Beetle. I loved this scene, the dialogue between these two former buddies was brilliantly written, and Spencer once again makes recapping fun, as we get filled in onto the back-story between these two and their history in the Thunderbolts. I loved how Boomerang saw what Abe did as the ultimate betrayal, and how he saw his involvement with the Tbolts as completely different, he’s a complex character is Fred Myers. I would have liked to see Spencer tackle the fact that Mach VII changed his skin colour in some humorous way, but I expect that’s coming.
Also brilliantly written was the scene where the rest of the Sinister Six kick him out because of his new association with Mach VII, I’m loving the banter between these losers, and how they comment on the wider Marvel Universe, such as their reactions to the Defenders all being women now. It was also great to see how Boomerang fucked up and the Sinister Four were able to take over his plan, it’s great to see how small-time and stupid these criminals are, really reminiscent of the late Elmore Leonard.
The scene with the ‘Supervillains Anonymous’ meeting was equally hilarious, and also tragic, as Spencer once again uses Marvel History in unexpected ways, and of course combines it with Hippo man-boobs.
This book is just amazing, Steve Lieber’s art is perfect for the book’s tone, the humour is there, the pathos is there, and the ending sets up some exciting stuff for the future, as Boomerang sets up his former friends for a fall.
If you’re not reading this book, you really should be, it’s something special, and in a month where the Distinguished Competition is all about their villains and how fucking dark and gritty they are, this black comedy is probably the best villain’s comic of them all. Although it is only in 2D.
X-Men: Battle Of The Atom #1– Yep, it’s time once again for the X-Men books to join together for yet another crossover, but I’m much more pumped for this one than I have been for a lot of the other ones. This is mainly because I’m already reading all of the books involved in the crossover, so my wallet is only adversely impacted for 2 one-shots, and also because, with the exception of Brian Wood’s X-Men title (which is still good), all of these books have been amazing lately, and it’s going to be brilliant to see them all come together and for this time-travel stuff to really get crazy.
This opening issue of the story is mostly set-up for what’s to come, but it was still very enjoyable nonetheless, as Bendis handily recaps the recent status quo of the various X-Books, delivers some great action and hits us with a great ending. The book opens with an introduction to the fact that this book is all about the future, as Magik travels forwards in time to see if things turn out well or badly for the X-Men. I think you can guess what the answer is there.
We then head to the Jean Grey School, where Kitty Pryde and her team of time-travelling original X-Men are sent on a mission to stop a newly powered-up Mutant from destroying Phoenix. Of course, things get more complicated, as those pesky Sentinels get involved, and then Cyclops and his team show up to help out. I was surprised to see that these two teams were so willing to work together, but I guess Kitty Pryde is nowhere near as antagonistic towards Cyclops as Wolverine is. This fight sequence was a lot of fun, especially because it’s drawn by Frank Cho, who is simply one of my favourite superhero artists. I feel he’s unfairly pigeonholed as a cheesecake perv artist, and whilst he does draw very hot women, he also draws very hot everything else, and I loved that Bendis gave the new Mutant in this issue the power to create dragon monsters, nobody draws better dragons than Frank Cho.
In the midst of this fight, something crazy happens, Young Cyclops is killed by a Sentinel! Yep, killed. This causes adult Cyclops to disappear from existence, which is worrying. But fortunately, one of the blank space that was formerly Cyclops’ new recruits, Christopher Muse, has healing powers, and he brings OG Cyke back from the dead. This was a great scene, not only does it get across just how powerful Christopher is, but it also shows the consequences of the original X-Men being here in the present day.
Because of these shocking events, the modern day X-Men decide to send the original five back to the past, only before they do so… some X-Men from the future show up! This development was spoiled by the cover, but still, it was cool to see, and these future X-Men look very cool. There have been a lot of dystopian future characters in X-History, so they have a lot to live up to, but I trust Bendis, Aaron and Wood.
This was a great starter to this crossover, it has great art, great action, it niftily catches up new readers with the vast array of characters and points of view that make up the X-Men universe these days, throws in a curveball, and wraps everything up in some great Bendis dialogue. I can’t wait for part 2. Wait, what’s that? It’s out this week too? Well, let’s get on with it then…
All-New X-Men #16– Battle Of The Atom continues, and since it’s from the same writer as Part 1, it’s no wonder that there’s a seamless transition. The problem with a lot of crossovers comes when you hand over from one writer to another, but so far, this is all Bendis, and it’s all great.
After a brief opening sequence where Christopher Muse freaks out about his powers and current Cyclops reassures him about the craziness in their lives, we are right back into that craziness, as the Future X-Men are here, and they are not happy. I love this line-up of characters, you’ve got Kitty Pryde, Beast, Deadpool, Molly Hayes, a monstrous Iceman, a female Xorn and the grandson of Charles Xavier (I haven’t been reading X-Men Legacy, does Legion have a love interest? Who’s the mother?). They explain that, yep, bringing the OG X-Men into the present was a huge mistake, and they’ve come to make them stop. I really like the layers of this story. The original X-Men are visited by a Beast from their future who warns them about the terrible future (our present), and then in turn, the present X-Men are visited by a Beast from their future! There may be a lot of time-travel in the Marvel Universe these days, but I think the X-Books are using it the best.
I loved the various reactions to the Future X-Men here, especially the Icemans freaking out about their fucked-up future. Of course, this isn’t just a peaceful dialogue between the various characters, for some reason, Wolverine pops his claws and attacks. Why? Well, Jean Grey made him do it. Bendis flashes back to show us inside Jean’s mind as the Future X-Men introduce themselves, and she doesn’t trust them, as they are blocking their minds. After first attempting to get her new love interest OG Beast to run away with her, she finally convinces OG Cyclops to come with her, and now we’ve got those two on the run, and I expect various factions of X-Men chasing after them. I must admit, it brought a smile to my face to see Scott and Jean back together again. I wonder if Jean is right not to trust the Future X-Men or not.
The reveal at the end certainly raises a lot more questions, as the Female Xorn reveals herself to be… Jean Grey? What the? What a great ending, Bendis really does know how to get people on the hook for the next issue.
The art for this issue comes from Stuart Immonen, and if you’ve been following this title regularly, you’ll know just how good he is, his style is so good, and it’s even more impressive given the sheer number of characters he has to draw here, even George Perez might struggle with this story! Battle Of The Atom has kicked ass so far, now it’s over to Wood and Aaron to see if they can keep up the pace with Bendis.
Infinity #2(of 6)– Jonathan Hickman continues his epic story here, and whilst I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as the super-sized #1, this is still a good story, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun seeing Hickman pay off a lot of his long-running plotlines.
This issue, much like the tie-ins in Avengers and New Avengers, is split into two parts, telling two different sides of the story. We open just above Earth, at SWORD’s command station, where Thanos’ army begins it’s attack. We then get a quick recap of the events of last week’s New Avengers, where Thanos’ lieutenants, The Black Order, target each of the Illuminati members. I think it’s interesting how Hickman is using the tie-ins here, as the events within them are shown here, but not in as great detail, I wonder what someone who is not reading either of the Avengers title would be able to comprehend about the story, I’d say reading them is a must, but maybe the recaps here are enough.
We then see something we haven’t seen in a tie-in, and that’s what happened when the Black Order confronts Black Bolt and the Inhumans. The confrontation between Corvus Glaive and well, not Black Bolt, but Medusa was very well-written, and what Glaive wants is very surprising, as he requests that the Inhumans kill every one of their member who is aged between 16 and 21, a bit like Herod, only not. I was initially confused by this, but the ending scene where Black Bolt calls the rest of the Illuminati into his pocket dimension where he can speak (it’s always awesome when Black Bolt speaks) and says that the reason Thanos wants to kill all of these Inhumans is because one of them is his son. What the? Since when did Thanos have a son? I thought he was after the Infinity Gems? Man, just when you think Hickman is finally answering stuff, he asks more questions.
The other half of the story here is out in space with the Avengers taking on the Builders. I didn’t like these scenes as much as the Earthbound ones, but it was cool to see Gladiator act like such a bad-ass, and the actions of the villainous Ex Nihilo were very shocking. The scale of both of the threats in this book is huge, and at this point, I still don’t know how the Avengers are going to stop both the Builders and Thanos. Speaking of Thanos, he doesn’t even appear in this issue, is anyone else surprised by how little he’s actually been involved in this story so far? I like the Black Order fine, but there’s nothing like the real deal.
The artwork here comes from Dustin Weaver and Jerome Opena, and it was very cool to seem them working with Hickman again, both of them have drawn issues of his Avengers recently, so they have an affinity with these characters and settings, and their realistic, detailed styles really work for such a bleak, sci-fi story.
Infinity really is developing nicely, especially because it’s basically weekly, and also because it’s that rare beast amongst superhero comics… it’s unpredictable.
Daredevil: Dark Nights #4(of 8) - This anthology title moves onto it’s second story, and it’s a pretty damn good one. Both written and drawn by Dave Lapham (colours by Lee Loughridge), this is a very fun Daredevil story that really lives up to the kind of stuff Mark Waid has been doing over in the main title for the last few years.
Daredevil is helping to coach a low-level mob guy who’s been set up as a patsy for the killing of a City Councilwoman, only, just as he’s about to get involved, the main piece of evidence, a gun, is stolen by a tiny little man who runs off with it. What follows is a very entertaining chase through New York, as DD tries to get to this little leprechaun dude, Buggit. We see Daredevil come face to face with The Shocker (breakout star of Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, but still a chump), flirt with a hot lady leaning out of the window, and run right into an Avengers battle against a big Jack Kirby monster.
I suppose this story might have worked better back in the days when Daredevil was less involved in the wider superhero world and wasn’t just recently an Avenger himself, but still, it was fun to see Daredevil’s chase interrupted by other superhero elements.
Readers of Stray Bullets will know how good Dave Lapham is as a writer-artist, and while he’s more restrained here than he is on his creator owned work (or even than his last Daredevil story, a surprisingly violent DD/Punisher mini-series), he’s still very good, and it feels like he’s tailored his artwork slightly to be more like the style of Martin, Rivera, Samnee etc.
This is a very enjoyable little story, and if you’re a big Daredevil fan, it’s well worth checking out, and hey, it’s got a weird leprechaun man that looks like Danny Devito, and whilst he’s not as scary as the midgets in Young Liars, he’s still weird.
Action Comics #23.1 – Cyborg Superman - And so, Villain’s Month begins, and first things first, I feel I have to say that, even amongst all of the massive fucking stupidity that’s surrounded them, the 3D Lenticular covers these books have do look pretty awesome. I know stuff like this is what caused the 90s collapse, but hey, they look cool, and for a one-month gimmick, I don’t mind.
But really, what’s most important here are the stories inside those covers, and the one here was pretty good. I haven’t been reading Michael Alan Nelson’s run on Supergirl, but I gather this new Cyborg Superman has been a major villain in that title, which makes sense, because he’s actually her father, Zor-El. I’m not sure how I feel about this change, it’s a good idea in that it makes this villain really personal to both Superman and Supergirl, but Hank Henshaw was a pretty great character in his own right, it was very impressive how he grew from being a Reed Richards parody into something different, and Geoff Johns did some interesting stuff with him in his Green Lantern work. But, hey, things change and Zor-El as Cyborg Superman works for me.
In this issue, Nelson shows us the origins of Cyborg Superman, how his rivalry with his brother Jor-El lead to his death, and how Brainiac revived him to become his herald or whatever, flying around the Universe looking for ‘perfection’. I’m sure I’d be more into this issue if I was current on Supergirl, but this issue told me all I need to know about this new version of the character, and I’m excited to see him eventually come into conflict with Superman.
The artwork from Mike Hawthorne here was also very good, reminding me a little of Leonard Kirk. I think the biggest problem with these Villain’s Month books is going to be the lower-level creators working on them, but this one felt like thought had gone into it, and that it was important for Nelson’s ongoing Supergirl story. Which begs the question, why wasn’t this Supergirl #23.1? The numbering of these titles is just as much of a clusterfuck as the cover situation.
So yeah, if you’re reading Supergirl, you need to get this issue, but it’s not really a part of Action Comics.
Superman #23.1 – Bizarro– I wasn’t initially planning on picking this book up, because I dropped Lobdell’s Superman, but I like Bizarro, so, what the hell. Interestingly this story wasn’t really about Bizarro himself, but instead about his creator, Lex Luthor. It seems like DC are going back to basics with Bizarro, no square-shaped Earth full of opposites, just a clone of Superman gone wrong.
This issue is written by Sholly Fisch, who did a good job of writing the various back-up stories during Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run, so it was cool to see him revisit those stories for this issue. We open with a flashback to Morrison’s run, where we see how Luthor gets his hands on Superman’s DNA, and then we see him attempt to use it to create his own Superman that he can control. Of course, it goes wrong and Lex has to fight an out of control monster. It turns out that combining Superman’s DNA with a human won’t work, so he’ll have to do a straight-up clone, and that’s where the issue ends, with a mysterious clone floating in a tank labelled ‘B-O’, which seems to indicate Bizarro.
It looks like this story will continue in Forever Evil, as I suspect with Superman ‘dead’, Lex will have to use Bizarro to go up against Ultraman. That’s another problem with these Villain’s Month comics, you don’t know how they connect to other comics, some of them are continuing ongoing plots (and not always for the book they are numbered for), some are tied-in directly with the crossover, and others are just standalone stories, and you don’t know what’s what until you slap down your $4, it’s confusing.
But anyway, this was a decent story, Fisch gets the world of Superman, and I’m excited to see what Bizarro is like when he does finally appear, I think this more stripped-down, Byrne-era approach works better for me than the Silver-Age nonsense. The art here comes from Jeff Johnson, who I’m not familiar with, but he does an OK job, with some interesting panel layouts, but it was nothing amazing.
Batman #23.1 – Joker - This was an odd one. With the Joker missing and presumed dead in the DCU, as well as not having a face, what we get for the most famous villain in all of comics is a strange, disconnected story that’s not much to do with anything and perhaps even breaks one of cardinal rules of Joker stories. You don’t definitively reveal his back-story.
This issue is full of flashbacks to the Joker’s sad childhood, and I just don’t want to see stuff like that, the Joker should be a mysterious force of nature, not some pat abused child psycho. If only Kubert had revealed that those flashbacks may not have been true. It was interesting to read a comic that was written, not drawn by Andy Kubert, and I thought he did a good job to be fair, apart from the mis-step of those flashbacks.
The main story, where the Joker raises a chimpanzee as his son, Jackanapes, was the kind of crazy weirdness I love from that character, and it was a lot of fun to see the Joker running around with a chimp in a clown costume. The artwork from Andy Clarke was also excellent, I love his style. Jackanapes was awfully cute, and the Joker looked like the classic Joker we all know and love. I must say I don’t really like the current faceless incarnation, it’s too much.
So yeah, if you want to read a story about the Joker and his simian son, check this book out. If you’re looking for anything more than that, then sorry. The Joker is a fascinating character, and as I said, he’s probably DC’s most famous villain, this book should be more than just ape-based fun, even if I always enjoy apes in comics. I suppose with Snyder keeping Joker off the board, this is to be expected, but I do feel this is a missed opportunity.
Green Lantern #23.1 – Relic – Unlike a lot of these one-shots, this one is certainly very important for readers of the ongoing Green Lantern books. Relic is set to be the main villain of the upcoming ‘Lights Out’ crossover, and he’s been a major presence in the last few issues of GL: New Guardians, so it’s good to get an insight into his origins.
Regular Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti and Rags Morales show us just what Relic’s deal is, as well as what the Universe before the current one was like. No, Relic is not from the pre-Flashpoint DCU, he’s from another Universe entirely, and one that was powered almost entirely by the Emotional Light, with the various Corps (although they aren’t called that in the old Universe) creating entire planets with their powers. I found it interesting that the emotions the Lanterns were powered by in the old universe were slightly different that they are in the main DCU. So instead of anger you have fury, instead of fear you have terror, instead of will you have resolve, and so on and so on, It seems like these are stronger forms of emotion, a subtle difference, but one that could be important.
Relic is afraid that one day, the light will run out, but nobody else believes him. Of course, he is right, and the various ‘Converters’ that the Lightbringers have fail, the light runs out and the Universe comes to an end. Relic escapes though the Source Wall and into our Universe, where Kyle Rayner comes along to inadvertently set him free. It was very good to finally find out Relic’s origins, and it certainly sets him up as a good antagonist for the new crossover, he has strong motivation for wanting to stop the Lanterns and hey, he may be right. This was a Villain’s Month book done right.
Another thing I found interesting here was the way Venditti and Morales told this story, it was pretty much all in narration, with only one line of actual dialogue, and every page was a splash-page. I think this adds to the mythic nature of Relic, as well as allowing Morales to really go into detail with these cosmic tableaus. Good stuff.
Justice League #23.1 – Darkseid– Just like a lot of the Villain’s Month books, I think this one is mis-titled. Yes, Darkseid was the villain of the first arc of this book, but this issue was written by Greg Pak and ties heavily into the first arc of his Batman/Superman run, so really, readers of that title should be directed to this issue, not readers of Justice League. Man, this is getting confusing.
This issue starts with the origin of Darkseid, we see him before he became a New God, as Uxas, and we see how he kills the Old Gods and steals their powers, becoming Darkseid, as well as how his brother-in-law became Highfather. I’ve never actually read the original Jack Kirby Fourth World stories (I know, I know, I’m going to rectify that soon) so I don’t know how much of this was a re-telling or a massive retconning, but either way, it was interesting and Paulo Siquera’s art was fantastic, that one splash-page where we see Uxas transformed into Darkseid was awesome. I’ve always quite liked Siquera’s style, but here, with no inks, it looked spectacular.
After establishing Darkseid and Apokolips, Pak then shows us why Darkseid has attacked in books like Earth 2 and Justice League. Kaiyo, the trickster and current villain in Batman/Superman has been leading him through the multiverse, where he kills the heroes he sees, until he comes across the New 52 and is defeated, as we saw in Justice League #1 to #6.
I did find a little weird how the reason the New 52 JL were able to defeat him was because they were ‘younger, rougher and crazier’, that just shows how EXTREME and 90s this new era of DC can actually be.
Once again, this book made me realise that I really do have to get around to reading Earth 2 soon, and the last page was also very interesting, as we see that Darkseid has imprisoned a Superman. Which Superman? Is Earth 2 Superman still alive? Who knows.
Darkseid is one of the best villains in comics, so I for one was glad to see his origins, now to read the original stories and see how furious I can become at DC changing them.
Justice League Of America #7.1 – Deadshot– Whilst I’m still pissed off that Ales Kot was removed from the Suicide Squad gig, this issue did enough to reassure me that Matt Kindt will be an able replacement for him. I won’t be reading it, but he has a good handle on Deadshot and the murkier side of the DC Universe.
This issue doubles as an origin story for Deadshot, and also a set-up for the Suicide Squad issues Kindt will be writing that tie into Forever Evil, so whilst once again the title of this comic means nothing (although Kindt will also be writing JLoA during the crossover), at least this one does serve a purpose.
Deadshot’s origin is pretty interesting, his parents and sister are accidentally killed by gangsters when the bullets they are firing at some junkies go through the narrow walls of their apartment. Deadshot survives, and becomes a hitman, declaring that he doesn’t want anyone he kills to die for nothing like his family, so that’s why he never misses, and why he always gets paid. This is a good hook for a villain, and it sets him up as a real professional in a world of crazies.
The present sequences show that in the aftermath of the Secret Society and CSA taking over, the Squad has been disbanded, and Deadshot is back on his own jobs, in this case, the man who hired the men who accidentally killed his family back in the day. The way Deadshot killed this dude (who was in some kind of armour, apparently, with all the villains joining together, the mob have to do the dirty work themselves, no hired hands are available) was pretty damn awesome.
The issue ends with Amanda Waller calling up Deadshot, and telling him that they need to get the Suicide Squad back together, he accepts, but only after being paid $12m. I suppose now I can see why Kot left the book, the team is really being changed by the crossover, and he may not have wanted to go along with it. I wish Kindt the best of luck, but I’m still going to buy Kot’s Image book Zero instead. But he does write a mean Deadshot, his description of himself as a ‘bullet… waiting to be fired’, was bad-ass.
The art here comes from two different pencillers, Sami Basri does the present-day stuff, and Carmen Carnero the flashbacks, both do decent work, but I preferred Basri overall, even though his style here isn’t as polished as I remember from his Power Girl or Voodoo stuff.
Forever Evil #1(of 7)– So, the big event of the New 52 era begins, and I’m sure that DC will get more shit about how dark and grim this book is, but really, this is a story where the Justice League are ‘dead’ and the world has been conquered by their villainous counterparts and all the other villains. It should be fucking dark.
I thought this was a pretty intriguing opener for this event, did a good job at showcasing who the CSA are as villains, really demonstrated the scale of the threat, as well as providing one very interesting development.
The story opens with Lex Luthor attempting take over another company, and despite being confused about just how Lex is free from jail (in Trinity War he was still in prison), I loved this scene, mostly because the company he was trying to buy was Kord Industries, and it’s heavily implied that Ted Kord is alive and well in the New 52. I try not to let my fanboy out too hard these days, but Blue Beetle II is one of my favourite characters of all time, and the fact that he’s not dead anymore is great news for me. In my heart of hearts I’m hoping that he’s going to become a superhero in this event, but I doubt that, just a nod is enough for me. Anyways, Lex’s helicopter crashes because of The Grid (evil Cyborg) and we see just how the CSA are taking over the world, by shutting down technology and breaking all of the Earth’s villains out from prison. We see them busting Arkham Asylum (where Nightwing is captured), Iron Heights, and Belle Reve, and giving the villains their communicator coin to recruit them to the Secret Society.
It was good to get a bit of development for the CSA, as they only had a few pages in Justice League #23, but so far, I’m liking what Johns is doing with them. Seeing Ultraman crush Kryptonite and snort it up like cocaine was just crazy, I loved it. Ultraman is fucking insane, and it’s going to be awesome when he and Superman finally fight. Because really, nobody believes the Justice Leagues are dead right? The CSA say they’ve killed them, but this happened off-panel in between Justice League #23 and this issue, so no way it’s true, I just wonder how long it will take for the truth to be revealed.
Speaking of revelations, the CSA unmask Nightwing live on TV, so the whole world knows he’s Dick Grayson. I find this an intriguing revelation in a lot of ways, although I do think they should have gone all the way and unmasked Batman. Doing it to Nightwing does make him slightly more interesting (and Dick Grayson’s only ever been interesting to me as Robin or Batman) but it seems like DC chickened out. But then again, if the citizens of the DCU can’t put 2 and 2 together and figure out the identities of the entire Batman Family, then wow, they really are stupid.
The issue ends with Ultraman moving the Moon to block out the sun, which is once again, a great demonstration of the size of what our heroes are up against. But who are our heroes? It looks like Lex Luthor is going to lead a bunch of villains in rebellion against the CSA until the real good guys come back, which should be interesting. I know Geoff Johns’ villain-boner is a bit ridiculous, but hopefully he’s getting it all out of his system here, and we can all move on. And in the meantime, we can enjoy a big dumb event with lots of crazy shit happening. I’m down for that.
David Finch is the artist here, and whilst he’s perfectly good, I still don’t think he suits the DC Universe, I can’t help it, he just screams ‘Marvel Comics’ in my mind, but then, I thought that about the Kuberts and I eventually got used to it. I dunno. The best thing about the art here was how the opening panel of Lex Luthor’s evil eye mirrored the final eclipse image, that was cool.
Forever Evil has gotten off to a good start, let’s hope Johns can keep it up, and this is more of a Sinestro Corps War than a Blackest Night, he’s got to do a good job, this is as I said, the first big DC event since Flashpoint, they need to make it count.
Trillium #2(of 8)– Jeff Lemire’s epic sci-fi love story continues, and whilst this issue wasn’t quite as experimental as the first one, as there’s no flip-book format, this was still a gripping read and Lemire does still find interesting ways to play with story telling structure.
This issue shows what happened when William and Nika came face to face. They can’t really have a conversation, because they speak different languages, and Lemire does this nifty thing where 1 page is from William’s perspective, and you can’t tell what Nika is saying, and then the next is Nika’s perspective, and William’s words are absent, and so on and so on. The two characters ever-so-slowly parse out what’s going on, that Nika has travelled to Earth from the far-future, which is kind of a mindfuck for both of them. I suppose some readers may find this issue a bit slow, as Lemire takes 22 pages for our characters to find out what they already know, but the dialogue was charming and I liked the techniques used, so it worked for me. I think this issue went a long way in showing that even though this is a story that spans millennia, it is actually deeply personal and close in on Nika and William.
In the end though, there is one word that both of these two characters can understand, and that’s, you guessed it... Trillium. Nika eats one of the Trillium flowers, then when William touches her, they both trip balls and see each other’s past histories. So it looks like the problem of our two leads not being able to understand each other is gone for the rest of the series, unfortunately, after this, the door to the Temple opens up again, and Nika heads back to the future (hey, that’s catchy, someone should do something with that).
I’m very excited by what’s next in this title, I thought that Nika and William would stick together for this series, but now it looks like it’s going to be a story of them trying to get back together. Lemire’s artwork was fantastic also, it’s always special when he pulls double-duty, and combined with Jose Villarubia’s colours, this is a great-looking comic, I especially liked how the William-focussed pages hand standard, rectangular panels, whereas the Nika pages were more experimental, with circular panels, Lemire is always changing little things in his art, and it always works.
Invincible #105– Yep, I’m caught back up with Invincible, and just in time for… one of those issues where not that much happens and Kirkman just moves a couple of subplots forward a tiny bit. I like these issues fine, but after burning through the insane build-up to and fall-out of #100, this felt a little slow. But I’m sure a lot of these developments will play out in big ways somewhere down the line.
The biggest thing that happened in this issue was that Nolan, the new Viltrumite Emperor, decided not to execute General Thragg, and instead exiled him. Whilst I’m enjoying Nolan as Emperor and the continued humanizing of the Viltrumites, you just know this is going to come back and bite everyone in their ass, and that ass will squirt blood everywhere in typical Invincible style.
Other plotlines built up here include Robot struggling with no longer being in control of a planet, like he was when he ruled the Flaxans, and Mark and Eve getting ready to be parents. I loved the scenes where they built that crib (or attempted to at least), and that scene at the end where Mark tells his dad was brilliant. It’s amazing how much the characters in this book have grown and changed over the 105 issues, such a great demonstration of the benefits of creator owned comics when compared to mainstream capes.
What’s not so good a demonstration of the benefit of creator-owned work is when Kirkman has Monster Girl go on this weird speech about how there are fewer female superheroes than male ones, that was just odd. Kirkman has this habit of tackling real world debates about comics metatextually in Invincible, (see #97, which was MENTAL by the way) and it didn’t really work for me here.
But anyway, it’s great to be back in the monthly groove of Invincible, I’ve been reading it for so long, I really feel like it’s grown up with me, even though I’m not expecting a kid personally. This book is always worth reading, even when it busts out a quieter issues like this one (and this issue still had Invincible stopping a bank-robbery and fighting a rock monster), it has a unique pace that’s really cool, and of course, Ryan Ottley is just consistently great.
Satellite Sam #3– Man, this is a weird book. There are parts of it I really like, and other parts where I just really am not invested yet. The stuff where people just talk about 1950s TV is just a bit of a bore, but when things get a little bit sleazy, things pick up. Maybe I’m just a filthy perv, but either way, I need to be entertained!
The best parts of this issue were when Michael White was questioning Kara (I’m getting the hang of some character’s names, but not all of them) about her past with his dad. The flashback where she was a drunk fuck-up were, as I said, nice and sleazy, and we did get a very interesting revelation, in that Carlyle White saved her life by rushing her to a hospital after an ill-advised trip to Mexico that ended with Kara covered in blood. I can’t tell if we’re meant to think Kara was shot or that she had a dodgy abortion, but either way, it does add some needed depth to Carlyle White, and show that he’s not just a filthy sex-pest. But he is still that, as Kara and Michael visit Carlyle’s apartment and we find out that he only takes his dirty photos the first time he’s with a woman, and that means that there’s a photo of the woman he was with when he died out there… a clue!
The other plotlines are less interesting, a camera-man gets distracted by some weird distortion, pisses off the singer he was supposed to be filming, and then gets kicked out of her nightclub. I don’t really know what’s going on with that. And then we see the head of the LeMonde Network having a dinner part, and discover that his wife is having an affair with the Commissioner. It was interesting to see that the woman seemed to be in charge with this affair, as she orders the Commissioner to eat her out. Man, this is a dirty comic, it doesn’t help that the covers are so suggestive too, I feel like I can’t read this comic on the bus for sure!
Chaykin’s art is still perfectly suited for this story, nobody does sleaze like him, but I don’t really read comics for titillation, I think I need the story to pick up a little, and I do trust Fraction to do so. Now that the dead man at the heart of this story is being revealed piece by piece, I think this book will become more than just a weird mish-mash of TV jargon and sex.
What a way to end a packed column, a black and white comic about cunnilingus and UHF television. Who says I’m a mainstream whore?
Well, I probably am, because my favourite comic this week was Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, but then again, that book is pretty indie for a Marvel comic. I also liked the main Superior Spider-Man title, and I felt that Forever Evil and Battle Of The Atom got off to great starts.
Join me next week (which may be a bit late, I have plans) for more Villain’s Month books, where the bad dudes under spotlight include Zod, Black Manta, Lobo (ooh, that one’s controversial) and Killer Frost, who isn’t a dude, but whatever. There’s also new issues of Kick-Ass 3, Fantastic Four, X-Men continues Battle Of The Atom and a new ongoing I’m very much excited for in Al Ewing and Greg Land’s Mighty Avengers. Oh Luke Cage, I have missed you.