Saturday, May 10, 2008

DC Capsule Reviews Week 17 2008

Killer boots, cut-off jeans of vengeance, wall-clinging heels, twirling moustaches, ear fingers, finger eyes, evil mini-skirts and Hypno-Pollen! DC's having a good week, read all about it:


(Sean McKeever / Nicola Scott / Doug Hazlewood)

Matt Morrison coined it first: 'Darrrk Vennnngeance' is the new 'Leroy Jenkins'! Misfit officially joins the main team as she flies solo (and in unparalleled style) to save Manhunter from her freakshow kidnappers.


COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #1 (Paul Dini & Keith Giffen / Tom Derenick)

That's it? After 52 issues, countless hopping around alternate realities and following inane personal oddysseys, our 'protagonists' have failed to play but a minor part (mostly audience) in the climax of their grand adventure. In this epilogue everyone gets a page to look back at what's happened to them, and embrace their new stations in life: for Jimmy, Jason, Harley, and Holly it means no change at all; for the 'Challengers' it's a fake new status quo 'monitoring the monitors' which makes zero sense power-wise in the big balance of things, and even less (is that minus?) sense considering who's involved and how they're already attached to other team projects; I guess Piper and Buddy Blank are the only ones who got out of this with any promise left in them.

Just look at that cover. Is there a more boring assemblage of characters imaginable? Have we been made to care for any of these people? Now that's it's officially over, and DC can no longer evade with statements like 'wait and see' we can officially announce this project a dud and a waste of everyone involved's time and effort (readers and creators alike).



(Bill Willingham / Mark Buckingham)

'Skullduggery' part 2 (of 2). It's Cinderella: Super-Secret Spy, kicking ass and taking names! I wouldn't have believed this particular fairytale princess capable of this level of action and espionage, but she proves me wrong here with her mod outfits, impressive roundhouse kicks and deadly use of -wait for it- footwear.



(Mike Costa / Fiona Staples)

How is Jack Hawksmoore currently my favourite super-hero. How does this happen? How do you take someone with a seriously 'Warren Ellis'-class weird super-power and flat personality and make him into this amazingly relatable, intriguing noir super-detective, who has affairs with cities, has buildings for pets and investigates a crime scene by asking the floor how much the murderer weighed.

I don't care if everything else Wildstorm publishes gets cancels, please give this guy and creative team their ongoing series.



(Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier / Paul Smith)


The star creator of 'Leave It To Chance' and one of the most influential X-Men artists of the 80s. It's a treat to see new work from Paul Smith (a mini here, some fill-in issues there). After Cooke himself, I can't imagine a more suitable artist to pick up the regular duties of the Spirit book. The series offers self-contained stories feauring Eisner's legendary character, in a contemporary setting, but losing none of the charm that made him so popular in his original landmark series. This issue involves the murder mystery of a movie star during the shooting of a war movie, and has the Spirit infiltrating a Hollywood studio with all the intrigue, sex scandals and silly masquerades one would expect to follow.



(Grant Morrison / Ryan Benjamin / Saleem Crawford)

Batman stories today don't get more classic than this.

The cliche setting: the hero in his civilian identity, the girlfriend (jet-setter Jezebel Jet), the villain ('the Fiend with Nine Eyes': the blindfolded terrorist leader who sees through the tatooed eyes on his 9 remaining fingers), a public setting (penthouse restaurant with exclusive clientelle). It all leads beat-by-beat, with perfect timing, to the iconic reveal in the ending in an unforgettable sequence. Bravo. I've included the final pages to push my point across:



(Sholly Fisch / Joe Staton / Horacio Ottolini)

So... they actually call themselves the 'DC Super-Friends' in the story? Oh, I just feel mean picking on a kids' comic! It's Super-Heroes versus Dinosaurs let loose in NYC! Solid action for younger readers but nothing to really interest anyone over 13. Check out the way cool Super-Friends Membership Pledge Card though!



(Jim Starlin / Jim Starlin / Art Thibert)

Well, this makes little to no sense. Superman bears witness to the battle between Darkseid, the Source and the mute spirit of Orion (who's supposedly died a few issues ago? no idea). In the end Darkseid escapes alive, Orion is still mute and there's an intriguing new status quo for the two planets of the New Gods.

Meanwhile over in Countdown the last few weeks, the long-boiling hunt against Darkseid was decided with first Jimmy Olsen, then Superman and finally a very talkative, alive and berserker Orion going up against him, ending in Darkseid's death.

So, um... What happened? Was it an editorial mix-up? Did one issue come before the other? Is Darkseid alive or dead? Is Jack Kirby really spinning in his grave?


JLA #20

(Dwayne McDuffie / Ethan Van Sciver)

About time! The JLA title has been treading water since Metzler's departure, with the wedding, the tedious Injustice League story and then yet another Salvation Run faux-tie-in. This issue finally shows promise: McDuffie is on his feet providing a significant vignette starring Wonder-Woman checking in on the Flash's leave of absence from the team.

There's almost too many highlights to list here: the ultimate 'Flash extinguishing a fire' scene (with actual beat-by-beat pseudo-scientific reasonings), Flash's internal monologue making himself and Diana more relatable as characters (capturing the awe that someone like Flash, a former Titan/third-generation hero, would feel towards a major-leaguer like Diana), the 70s-tastic Queen Bee and her mindless bee-headed drones, and just about any intimate close-up panel featuring Van Sciver's staggering Wonder Woman. Seriously, it had a worse effect than Hypno-Pollen (how cool, btw).


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Van Sciver + Wonder Woman =

So in love with Ethan Van Sciver's Wonder-Woman:

He may be one of the more tardy professionals in comics today, but there's not doubt Van Sciver delivers on each project...

Source: JLA #20 (DC Comics)
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Mystique: My Life As Miss December Centerfold

It's another 'Jason Aaron is Just Amazing' tribute week post

Source: Wolverine #64 (Marvel Comics)
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Friday, May 09, 2008

Marvel Capsule Reviews Week 16 2008

You go Marvel!

This week: Snowed-in Spidey, identity crises x3, slapstick murders x4, funny clone business x7, phew! Seeing a trend? Read on!


(Zeb Wells / Chris Bachalo)

The Snow storyline concludes with a fulfilling slugfest: Spidey & His Amazing Homeless Friends versus the Raving Dr Rabin and his Amazing Mayan Deity. Now, the Deity may be able to see between the Gutters and attack from different panels and pages (way cool Morrison-esque idea and brilliant execution from Bachalo), but Spidey has his homies and lots of alcohol to back him up! Spidey is more enjoyable than he's ever been in over a decade! It has nothing to do with the lack of a wife, and more to do with getting the right troupe of creators on the case, the best editor possible for the task and managing the title and creators as a TV show would. Now was that MJ in the upcoming cover teases? ;)



(Dan Slott & Christos Gage / Stefano Casseli)

'K.I.A.' conclusion. It's the great season-ending battle as the zombified clone of Michal Van Patrick (MVP) (killed in action in the first issues of the series) continues his murder spree, going after the original MVP who's unaware of the whole ordeal. It's not confusing yet. The Initiative trainees show up to protect the yong boy, along with the Scarlet Spiders who are really -wait for it- more clones of MVP, named Michael, Van and Patrick! Classy. It's an entertaining slugfest, with memorable moments, odd sacrifices, cheesy showboats ('I'M THE (goddamn) WAR MACHINE' -sheesh-) , the still amazing inclusion of Slapstick and a heart-warming finale with a double twist. It's a great pay-off for long-time readers of the title. The rest will be left scratching their heads at the titanic roster though, I suggest waiting two more months till the jumping-onpoint of #13 to sample this title.



(Brian Reed / Lee Weeks / Jesse Delperdang)

The pay-off begins here! I'm not entirely convinced this was the plan from the beginning, but this excelent mini-series and the revelations of this issue even make up for the crappy Return of Captain Marvel story from Paul Jenkins. You've read the spoilers already: Captain Marvel didn't really time-travel to our time, he's a Skrull impostor imprinted with the original's DNA, thoughts, personality and powers, set up as a sleeper agent for the upcoming Invasion. Too bad for the Skrulls he failed to live up to his programming and, having learned of his origins, has decided to take up the full mantle of Captain Marvel and become Earth's protector. It's all corny in its core, but well written and beautifully rendered by Lee Weeks who is producing the best work of his career here. How about a 'Marvels' ongoing combining the Captain and the Ms once the crossover is done, with Reed and Weeks on the helm? Please?


(Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente / Rafa Sandoval / Roger Bonet)

It's Olympians vs Eternals as Pak and Van Lente have some fun at the Gods' expense and Marvel's convoluted divine continuity. See, Hercules, Athena, Ares and the rest came from the Greek Myths of the Greek Gods. But then, so did Kirby's Eternals for the most part, including Thena (Athena), Sersi (Circe), Ikaris (Icarus), Gilgamesh (Hercules). Now the newly-revamped Eternals have sought out Hercules to reveal to him he's really the amnesiac Gilgamesh! The Eternals make a good case for it, but in the end it's all decided with blows (and a Athena vs Thena fight! w00t) and ends in the usual manner of these team-ups. Diggable!
Worth noting is, I didn't check the credits until the last page of the issue; during the first reading of the story, I was more and more impressed with Khoi Pham amazing improvement from past issues... only to discover it wasn't Pham at all who was doing this issue. Embarrassing. Let's give this Sandoval guy a boost, eh?



(Daniel Way / Steve Dillon)

'The Deep End' part 4. It's the backdoor pilot for Way and Dillon's upcoming Deadpool series, still dragging on and gasping for steam. Now I've enjoyed this manic fun chase, but what would be a fun harmless 2-3 issue interlude to the regular title is actually revealed to be a 5-issue (trade friendly -wink-) storyline? Get this over with already! The entire issue is actually conversation (and delusions) between Deadpool and Wolverine -tied up in chains and held over a swimming pool. They reminisce, they analyze each other, probe their childhoods and get all touchy-feely before a surprise visitor tries to make sense of this interlude in the broader sense of this title's raison-d'etre.



(Peter David / Valentino De Landro / Andrew Hennesy)

'The Only Game In Town' part 2. It's X-Factor versus Arcade, one of the funnest and most often mis-used X-villains. PAD's going all out with the slapstick deathtraps here, thankfully: rolling boulders, giant swinging axes and explosive baby carts! It's a harmless fun (well, only fun until someone loses a leg) way to spend the gestation period ('Divided We Stand') between the end of the grand crossover and the upcoming new direction of X-Factor in the grand Alonso X-scheme.

And check out the Arcade's Space Invaders socks. The devil's in the details.



(Carey, Yost, Kyle, Young, Fraction, McKelvie, Peterson et al)

Hey, it's X-Men Unlimited! Only bigger, better and cashing in on the success o the recent x-over. It's a collection of 'what happened to them's, starring mostly the New X-Men characters and other secondary x-dudes and dudettes.

Cannonball blows some steam on the redneck Capulets from Austen's forgettable Romeo+Juliet Uncanny X-Men storyline. Carey digs obscure continuity, but some things should remain forgotten. If not for Mark Stoddard's review, I wouldn't have even made the connection.

Nezhno goes back home to Wakanda. Did Kyle and Yost really have to wait until New X-Men was canceled to give him the spotlight and an origin?

Northstar drops in to visit Anole for a gay mutie heart-to-heart. Skottie Young writes and draws this story. It looks gorgeous, but the story tries to hard to not be a stereotypical gay bonding thing, that it trips up in its own twist, losing the characters' voices. Enjoyable but not quite right.

Hellion goes looking for trouble and has a brilliant telling off from Magneto himself.

--and finally... the masterpiece in their midst: an 8-page story featuring Nightcrawler and the Marauder Scalphunter, by Matt Fraction and indie sensation Jamie McKelvie. Fraction uses the two characters to muse about religion and philosophy in the context of a world populated with mutants and clones where death has lost its meaning. If you copy a murderer, do you copy his soul as well as his memories? Is he responsible for the crimes he committed before his death & rebirth? Can he be exonerated? I'd definitely like to see this little gem featured in some short story award nominations next year.


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My Life As a Cannibal's Supper

It's one more 'Jason Aaron is Just Amazing' tribute week post

Source: Ghost Rider #21 (Marvel Comics)

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Logan: My Life As a Suicide Car Bomber

It's a 'Jason Aaron is Just Amazing' tribute week post

Source: Wolverine #64 (Marvel Comics)
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