POW! Bi-Weekly Comics Review! 11/21/09
I’m starting to love Saturdays again! Y’know why? Because of that little Express Mail package that the mailman drops off every other week. That means my comcis came in the mail today and that can only mean one thing here on Brave Blog… the second installment of POW! B-Weekly Comics Review!
This week we take a look at no less than 12 books covering 10 different comics titles. We get a good group of material that cover multiple publisher’s, why I even have not 1 but 2 Marvel books on my pull list. All told 5 publishers get represented in this installment, 6 if you count Vertigo as a separate brand from DC. I’d like to thank Heavy Ink for providing my books, they do a great job in the packaging and shipping of my titles and not a single mangled cover in the lot. If you don’t have a local comic shop in your neck of the woods by all means head on over to http://www.heavyink.com and get those books shipped right to your doorstep at a most reasonable rate. All books reviewed have their order chosen by which one I enjoyed the most, thus the first book on the pile is pretty much branded “Book Of The Bi-Weekly Reading Period”. If you don’t want spoilers then read no further! Now enough of this prattling, there are comics afoot my friends!For the last month everyone has been praising this book and they damn well should. There are few good Detective/Crime comics on the shelves and even fewer GOOD crime comic writers. One of those writers who gets it right is Greg Rucka. Whether he is writing stories for Batman and his team of urban vigilantes or detailing the adventures of MI6 operative Tara Chace, Rucka always tells some great stories in comics. He does it in his novels as well as I’m a HUGE fan of the Atticus Kodiak series of novels (though I’m sad that the series is over). Well now, look here an adventure of a gambling-addicted female Private Investigator named Dexedrine C. Parios (her friends call her Dex) based out of Portland, Oregon. Remember the vibe you used to get from those old 70’s detective shows like The Rockford Files? You know, the down on his luck P.I. who was tough but really tried to avoid a fight at all costs if they could? That is exactly what Stumptown feels like based on its first issue. This is a good thing. I mean, give Jim Rockford a sex-change, a gambling problem and a bad debt to pay an Indian Casino and you’ve pretty much got the set-up of Stumptown. This is tarting off as a missing persons case but you know it is going to end up as so much more. This is a comic everyone should read. Fuck just read it and give it to a friend afterward. If they don’t thank you later then get new firends. I can’t wait for the second issue Let’s face it, there was nothing wrong with John Byrne’s 1986 reboot of the Superman franchise. If anything it cleaned up a lot of mess from Crisis On Infinite Earths. It was after Byrne left Superman that things kept getting screwed up. Mark Waid’s Superman Birthright was an attempt to reboot Supes origin, which I still think was a terrible move. Sadly, DC editorial decided that Waid’s Birthright superceded Man Of Steel as the true Superman Origin. Well good-bye Birthright and hello Secret Origin, as DC sends their “Mr. Fix-It” Geoff Johns to clean-up the mess from Waid’s suplanting of Byrne. What we get is a tale of young Clark Kent struggling with puberty and all these crazy powers he seems to be manifesting. Then there is Clark and Lana Lang but that my friends is another example of puberty and a boy getting his first mean-on for a girl is kind of like a strange new superpower isn’t it? The first issue is great as young Clark runs off to play football with his friends and accidentally breaks Pete Ross’ arm. We get to see why Johnathan Kent is such a sage in his wisdom to reveal the truth to Clark about where he came from. Just a really good launching point. It also doesn’t hurt that Gary Frank is pencilling this book. Frank draws the best Superman since Byrne, so why not let him draw the heck out of a Superman origin? Am I right? Am I right? Johns and Frank continue the greatness in the second issue. Young Clark is stil coming to terms the revelation that he isn’t really Clark Kent and even worse, he is shutting himself of socially, fearful that he might break someone worse than what happeend to Pete Ross. But Clark Kent isn’t alone. He will be the greatest hero known to mankind and all he needs is a little nudge from those teenagers from the 30th century who were inspired by him. Yes, Johns finally fits The Legion Of Superheroes into the modern DC mythos and he does it so simply. No need for Mon-El to replace Superman as the inspiration for The Legion and no rebooting Legion continuity to try to make it work. No sir, just plain straightforward storytelling. I mean this one issue unravels the Gordian Knot of Superman and The Legion that has plagued DC since Crisis On Infinite Earths. Most importantly, we know for certain that the Superman/Legion relationship is one giant causality time-loop i.e. If the 3 founding members of the Legion had not gone back in time to meet Superman then Clark Kent would never realize that he wasn’t as truly alone as believed himself to be. We also get more Lex Luthor, though I’m still not crazy about Superman/Luthor knowing each other as kids. I swear to God, if we go back to the “You made me bald therefore you must die!” reason for Lex hating Superman, then I’m going to throw-up. That aside, this series is 2 for 2 so far. It just reminds of why I love Superman! Why look! More Geoff Johns! Flash Rebirth moves a long at a brisk place, which is rather fitting. Barry Allen and Max Mercury are face to face with the Reverse-Flash, Professor Zoom. Big revalations come out, things like that the Speed Force was created the moment Barry Allen was struck by the lightnng that turned him into the Flash. This also makes him pretty much the living battery for the Speed Force. But for every action there must be an opposite reaction and that is Zoom, who generates a negative version of the Speed Force (which is kinda stupid, the negative Speed Force would be the Slow Force wouldn’t it?)> . Zoom departs the Negative Speed Force and is off to kill Iris West, the up until recent Flash Waly West’s daughter. Barry realizes that since he is the battery, the more he runs, the more Speed Force is powered, thus the more people that use the Speed Force to power him. Finally making Max Mercury realize that he has an anchor to drive him home, both men escape. Some the of the stuff here is pretty goofy. I mean A Negative Speed Force is just so Superfirnds style science it is ridiculous. But we do get some great Ethan Van Scrivneer artwork, including a few pages of Zoom taking on the Bart Allen Kid Flash and Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick plus the rebirth of Jesse Quick!. Of course that is just a warm-up for the brouhaha in… It’s 5 generations of The Flash (with Max Mercury and Jesse Quick) versus Professor Zoom, in the fastest fight in comics… well… not really but the fight is pretty damn cool and Wally even manages to teach Barry a new trick about the Speed Force. Jay Garrick shows us the neat trick of why he wears that old helmet and say hello to Impulse 2.0! FUCK YES! I love Impulse and since Bart is living the highlife as Kid Flash, I think it only right that Iris West take up the mantle of Impulse. Still Zoom has a few stricks up his sleeve, including a big reveal about who murdered Barry Allen’s mother. Still, with that much Speed Force powering our man Barry, Zoom knows he has but one recourse… to sever Barry Allen from the Speed Force by killing his wife Iris Allen before either of them ever meet! One issue to go in this mini-series and one wonders… will The Flash Family survive? (We know Barry does, what with Blackest Night taking place post Flash Rebirth… thanks DC Editorial!) Grant Morrison’s second arc closes up with a big fight as The Red Hood and Scarlett square-off against The Flamingo. The Flamingo gets dick in the way of dialogue but I understand why Morrison has done this, as this issue is really focusing on a grander story down the road dealing with South American Crimelord El Penitente sending hitmen into Gotham to elimiante any rival crime bosses, as well as any masked vigilantes that are bound to get involved. South American Druglord’s be damned! Batman isn’t going to let someone turn his city into a bloodbath. What ensues is a threeway brawl as Red Hood and Scarlett get wrecked by The Flamingo, only to have Batman and Robin make the save. Sadly the New Batman barely survives and the New Robin is even worse off. When the dust settles, our man The Red Hood is finally caught, which should lead to some complications since Jason Todd was legally adopted by Bruce Wayne after they rebooted his origin. Hopefully Morrison has covered his bases here and this will lead to something developing in the regular Batman book. I love Fables! Hell it is just one of those great books that always has good humor mixed with a good dose of action to make its concept a joy to read. “But James” I can hear that one person who never stops with her questions, “What concpet is that?”. Well my poppet, Fables takes your favorite Fairy Tale characters and puts them in the real world, trying to adjust normal life. Now while this may sound like a bad sitcom, it is actually one of the few ideas that works because it can really only ever work within comics. One of the characters that writer Bill Willingham did a great job of re-imagining was Cinderella. Taking the the girl with the glass slipper and making her Fabletown’s super-secret agent was brilliant. I mean who would have thought Cinderella would kick this much ass? In the first issue, our girl Cindy is recruited to find out who is selling Fablekind magic items on the mundane Black Market. The trail leads to Dubai but a girl simply can’t go undercover in Dubai without the right back-up now can she? Writer Chris Roberson has a great set-up and keeps the vibe of the main Fables book, what with all the gossip among the Fables and even having her own little cadre of spies within the Fable community. Shawn McManus provides the art and it is totally breezy and looks to keep things fun. Really, there was no way I was going to hate this first issue, hopefully it will hold-up for the whole run. Ah Conan! You never let me down. I mean in this issue you fight a velociraptor hand-to-hand in the first few pages, thus proving that you are a comic that actually has Conan in it. This is part one of “The Free Companions”, which will tell the tale of how Conan grows tired of the court intrigues in Khoraja following Robert E. Howard’s original story “Black Colossus”. If you’ve never read that story, do not fear. Conan is in service to Princess Yasmela, whose brother, Prince Khossus is being held for ransom by Koth. Conan determines that ot face the armies of Koth head-on is just plain retarded. It would be wiser to send a small band of men to rescue him. Yasmela sia bitch and doesn’t heed him. Her cousin Prince Julion of Muric. Thus Conan determines to do rge erscue mission anyway. How does this relate to Conan fighting a velociraptor? We will just have to wait until next month… Hercules has always been one of my favorite characters in the Mavel Universe. Always! The thing was, I always viewed Herc as a great supporting character in Thor and The Avengers but never really thought he could carry his won title. Well all I’ve heard for the last few years is that The Incredible Hercules is one of Marvel’s best titles, especially if you like good old school Marvel style throwdowns. So I’m added Herc’s book to my pull list and what do I get? An issue devoid of Hercules. Not only that but thre is nary a punch thrown. Instead, we get a look at Amadeus Cho, Herc’s genius sidekick. Turns out this was a perfect jumping on point for me, since I’m not really coming into the book while a major story is unfolding. Basically, Cho has finally tracked down the man who murdered his parents and is now ready to take his revenge. But before that can happen he has a sit-down with the Goddess Athena about what her plans for him are. Everything is wrapped up nicely in one issue as Cho gets his revenge but not in the way you quite imagined it would happen. A very solid read but next issue, Hercules better punch something! So I got this because I am a Robert E. Howard fan and even though Howard didn’t create Red Sonja (Howard created Red Sonya of Rogatino,a completely non-Hyborian Era character. My love of most things Howard compelled me to get this. Hey, remember when Red Sonja teamed-up with the X-Men and Spider-Man to fight Kulan Gath? Yeah, that was awesome. Sadly, nothing of the like happens in this book, what with Red Sonja no longer in Marvel’s hands. I liked this book but I made the mistake of getting the last issue of a story-arc. It also seemed to be done and over with in like 2 minutes of readinf. Red Sonja tracks down the evil Lord Lucan Martur and the evil sorceress who has promised him power. It takes less than 2 pages for Sonja to beatthem both. I sunno… I was hoping that this issue would be the bridge to… We start off with a whole new story. This is pretty much going to explain how Sonja becomes the Queen of Sogaria. We start off with Sonja in the present, as Queen, being told of raids by a Commander from Emora. Apparently all of the Queen’s subjects are being killed. Queen Sonja is not amused. The book then jumps back 4 months previous, before Sonja was just Red Sonja. She has found the pack of brigands that raped and murdered some children. Thus Sonja slays them all and then visits Lady Rosenda, who beseeches our heroine to drive out the Emoran invaders and retrieve The Sword Of Aurora. Sonja agrees and sets out after the raiders. This was much better than the previous isue of Red Sonja. I can overlook Sonja’s lack of proper armor because it is always how she has been portrayed. The art was excellent, Mel Rubi’s artwork was a nice change from the pseudo-Vampirella in the 90s style of the previous Red Sonja comic. I’m looking forward to the next issue of Queen Sonja and her quest to find the sword. There will be much in the way of slaughter I imagine… So the Interstellar arm of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets its own book? Sure why not, I mean if they can bring back Rocket Raccoon why not give S.W.O.R.D. its own book right? The problem is this books reads great, but the art is very… well I don’t like it. I mean I don’t know why penciller Steven Sanders draws, what seems to be, The Beast with a horses head but it is by far the worst version of Hank McCoy I’ve ever seen. I mean, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when Grant Morrison turned him into a wolf-cat thing-a-mabob but he looks way worse here. What is even worse is that everything else in the book looks pretty sharp. I mean it is issue #1 and already we get the idea that Marvel’s number-one government appointed douchebag, Henry Peter Gyrich is butting heads with his S.W.O.R.D. co-commander Abigail Brand. We also get a glimpse ofdrunk Lockheed The Dragon and The Beast with a basket of blueberry muffins. All this plus Brand’s con-man half-brother gets kidnapped by Marvel UK loser Death’s Head… WHAT? Did I really just read a book with Death’s Head in it? I haven’t done that since I worked at Marvel. Death’s Head was terrible then, so I’m not imagining much has changed. Shit I’d rather there be a Woodgod ongoing than me having to read something with Death’s Head in it ever again and Woodgod SUCKS! FUCK! The story is to be continued! Ok, I’m giving this one more issue… but so help-me if Death’s Head becomes a recurring character this book is gone from the pull-list.
Well there you have it kids! 12 comics in a big ass bundle, reviewed for your pleasure. In 2 weeks we return with a smaller batch of comics to review. iWe take another stab with fiery redhead from Hyrkania with Queen Sonja #2. We just might get the return of Nekron in Blackest Night #5. There will be a double-shot of Fables action with Fables #90 and Cinderella, From Fable Town With Love #2. Hercules comes bounding in, possibly for team-up with Spider-Man in The Incredible Hercules #139. The adventures of Young Clark Kent continue (WHOO-HOO~! let’s hear it for Alliteration!) in Superman: Secret Origin #3 and then we’ll go all supernatural on you with that “Queen Of The Tarot” in Madame Xanadu #17. So until then, all of you have a very Happy Thanksgiving and neve stop reading!