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POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #4: Kevin Matchstick Accepts His Fate!

"A Hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself" - Joseph Campbell

There are “Firsts” that always stay with you. Your first love, your first Baseball game and the first piece of literature that you remember reading that really resonated with you are all things that come to mind (for me at least). I also count the first non-mainstream comic book series to actively blow me away amongst those experiences. I spent so many of my formative years growing up reading just mainstream DC and Marvel comics that I was oblivious to such things as alternative or independent comics. The mid-1980s was a most fascinating time in comics because the independent scene seemed to unexpectedly explode with new publishers and titles. This was the wave of creators, writers and artists, that gave us some pop culture icons (Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), some rather interesting explicit material (Cherry Poptart and Omaha The Cat Dancer) and one writer/artist’s insanely dense vision for what independent comics could be (Cerebus The Aardvark). Of course for every really great piece of independent comics material, there was plenty of derivative crap or awful attempt to re-invent the Superhero genre (pretty much anything put out by Continuity Comics). Then there are the true gems of Independent Comics, like Matt Wagner’s Mage: The Hero Discovered.

Now I am going to talk at length about Mage and why it is great but first I need to talk about the company that originally published the book and why they were important to comics in general. Comico (The Comic Company), was a small publisher out of Norristown, Pennsylvania, started by friends Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta. Starting as a black and white comic publisher, they were responsible for many well known writers and artists getting their first or earliest breaks. This includes writers like Bill Willingham (the architect of Fables) and Mike W. Barr (who had a run with a lesser known character you may have heard of called Batman). They complemented this with artists who would become fan favorite throughout the 80s and 90s. Names like Adam Hughes, Bernie Mireult and Steve Rude. They also had a talented young writer/artist named Matt Wagner. Wagner made his debut in Comico Primer #2, where the comic world was introduced to Grendel for the first time.

Grendel was an anti-hero, a ruthless assassin who worked to control the East Coast Mafia while being opposed by a cursed Native American werewolf named Argent who worked with the NYPD (trust me it isn’t nearly as goofy as it sounds). That was the simplest form of the story imaginable. Grendel was supposed to get its own series, but plans on that got nixed due budgetary reasons. What ended up happening was Grendel became a back-up story… in Mage: The Hero Discovered!

Make no mistake; Mage put Matt Wagner and Comico on the map. Yes Comico was churning out titles like Justice Machine and The Elementals monthly. Hell they were putting out 6 monthly issues of Robotech over 3 separate series and I’m not talking reprinting manga. Comico HIRED actual Western comics professionals to mimic the art styles of Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super Dimensional Calvary Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada, the 3 TV shows from Japan that comprised the western adaptation of Robotech. Still, it was Mage that made the hardcore comic book fans sit up and take notice. It seemed to be the perfect wish fulfillment story. It was well illustrated and tightly written, and had characters that you just had to see what happened to in the next issue. It was what you wanted your perfect comic book story to be. Wagner entered into partnership with Comico for the rights to Mage, each party getting 50% ownership of the property. Outside of self-publishing, no creator was given a greater deal with his publisher that I can think of. Of course good things for Comcio didn’t last and by the early 90s they were bankrupt and what would’ve been their biggest project (Wagner’s Batman/Grendel) sat on the shelf until 1993 when the rights for Grendel and Mage reverted back to Wagner, giving him 100% control. Make no mistake though, Mage helped build Comico into the #3 Comic company in the early 80s, before that position was assumed by Dark Horse and Image in the 90s.

Now that we’ve discussed Comico, the next Question is: what is Mage: The Hero Discovered?

Mage: The Hero Discovered was like Matt Wagner took every wish fulfillment superhero story and then fused it with Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth. It took the tale of a common man put into uncommon situations that end up being the catalyst for discovering what his true calling in life is supposed to be. It is a journey of self and an exploration of heroic themes that go back ages, to stories that were around before any of us were born. Mage is an old tale in modern clothing and yet doesn’t feel like something that has been rehashed. In the end What Mage: The Hero Discovered is, is Matt Wagner weaving a tale that is so rich, romantic and fun that it just might be the best comic series ever published. I say that with no small sense of hyperbole. Mage: The Hero Discovered is amazing. It gives you a hero you can relate to, villains that scare you and an ending so satisfying that you sit there at the end smiling with a warm fuzzy feeling. Mage: The Hero Discovered is like getting laid by a comic book. It is that good!

Oh you want the story?

Kevin Matchstick is a man, who by his own account is very much alone. He views himself as isolated and covers up his own isolation by being loud and rambunctious. He confesses this to a man he meets for the first time on the street. It is Mirth who questions Matchstick’s isolation with the question of “Are you sure your life is worth so very little?”. From that moment you know Matchstick’s life is going to change. He breaks up what he thinks is a mugging of a homeless man only to find out he is fighting something not quite human. Even more surprising is when Matchstick, much to his own bewilderment, punches a hole in a brick wall during the fight. The fight ends with the mugger running away and Matchstick returning home, only to find the man he opened up to earlier sitting in his apartment. The man is Mirth, a mage, who explains to Matchstick what exactly he fought earlier and how it wasn’t a simple mugging. No, he fought one of the Grackleflint brothers, Agents of a Great Evil that, simply by acting against them, Matchstick has now found himself involved in conflict with. In fact after Mirth leaves Matchstick’s apartment, Matchstick encounters 2 more of the brothers at a local diner and ends up brawling with them on the subway.

This all happens in the first issue. The last panel of the first issue is Matchstick crashing out of a subway window with another train coming at him head-on from the opposite direction. I shouldn’t have to explain that Matchstick lives after that experience. He not only lives but encounters Mirth again, who agrees to guide him through the coming conflict. His nemesis is a being called the Umbra-sprite. The Grackleflints serve him, as do many other supernatural beings. You, as the reader, know that Mirth is only giving Matchstick enough information along the way because there is going to be some awful revelation later. Still Matchstick and Mirth join the fight, picking up allies like the girl named Edsel, whose baseball bat gets enchanted with magical energy by Mirth and Sean, the Public Defender who turns out is dead. But remember, this is a hero’s journey of self and in turn the hero always suffers loss along the way. It is this loss that brings us to Mage’s Moment that gives it the #4 spot as one of Comics Greatest Moments.

There Are Times...

The moment happens in Mage: The Hero Discovered #14 but it is the events of issue #13 leading up to it that put things in motion. Matchstick, Mirth and Edsel are attacked by a deranged man who had been given an enchanted stapler by the Umbrasprite resulting in Edsel getting shot. In the fray, her baseball bat that was enchanted by Mirth falls to the ground. Matchstick grabs it and uses it to beat their assailant. The aftermath is heart wrenching, as Matchstick demands Mirth help Edsel, who is on the ground dying from her wounds. Mirth explains to Matchstick that he cannot, it is Edsel’s fate to die at that moment just as she has died before while aiding Matchstick in his previous life. From the moment Matchstick met Mirth the 2 became friends, but Matchstick never stopped to ask himself why he stopped to speak to some seeming vagabond for no good reason. Mirth had been keeping secrets from Matchstick the whole time, mainly for Matchstick’s own protection.

But the moment Kevin Matchstick finally came into contact with the enchanted baseball bat, everything Mirth had been hiding became known to Kevin Matchstick. Kevin Matchstick is the re-incarnation of Arthur Pendragon and the glowing baseball bat is more than just enchanted, it is his weapon reborn in a new form, it is the holy sword Excalibur. Edsel was the re-incarnation of the Lady of The Lake, bearing Excalibur for him until he was ready to accept his destiny and become the hero he was meant to be.

You Just Cannot Deny...

Everything unravels for Kevin Matchstick at that point. He questions everything he had been doing up to that point, fighting the impossible, battling Grackleflints and even a dragon. He accepted those things not because he wanted to but because it was impossible NOT to believe it since he was living the experience. It is accepting that he isn’t entirely the master of his own destiny, that this was all fate that he has trouble coping with. For this he has Mirth, who has a counterpoint for every argument Matchstick has. Mirth can do this because he has lived through this experience as well, he knew what was going to happen for he is Merlin and is cursed with the knowledge of Matchstick’s heroic quest. Thus with all the arguments he could make countered by Mirth, Matchstick resolves that it isn’t about fighting against fate but about doing what is right. He has already been involved in the events until now so it is his obligation to see it through to the end. With that resolve in mind, Kevin Matchstick approaches the Excalibur-bat that is embedded in a dumpster due to the fight, and in one of the grandest symbolic moments in comics, accepts his fate.

FATE!

Mind you, that isn’t the end of Kevin Matchstick’s story but it is the moment that sticks out most clearly as being the important moment. Everything that has been discussed about the Hero’s journey culminates in that moment when Kevin Matchstick finally takes everything that is going on around him seriously. It is essentially him growing up right there, in that exact moment. The symbolism in that moment is multi-layered, as good symbolism is. The bat coming out of the dumpster is an allusion to the sword in the stone, but it is also about taking responsibility of one’s self and one’s actions. It is about taking all the shortcomings and faults Kevin Matchstick finds within himself and accepting them so he can overcome them, so he can become not just a better hero, but a better human being. I love Mage:The Hero Discovered for this symbolism, for this playing with the concept of Campbell’s themes and Arthurian legend, and making them deeply psychological upon reflection.

Whether all of that was Matt Wagner’s intent is uncertain, though he has alluded to Mage, as a whole, being not just about Kevin Matchstick’s journey as hero but Wagner’s own journey and growth as a creator and person. In essence, Matt Wagner and Kevin Matchstick are one and the same. How utterly fitting, especially given the nature of the wish fulfillment aspect of Mage. I mean who doesn’t want to be King Arthur in some regards? Hey I’ve read Mort D’Arthur multiple times. Being King Arthur is no picnic but it is the ideal of King Arthur and what that represents to a child’s sense of adventure and imagination that matters. How that ideal applies to Kevin Matchstick, and Matt Wagner, is about maturation, albeit on a totally epic scale through the perfect medium for young boys to digest, comic books. I keep re-reading Mage: The Hero Discovered and I keep pulling back the layers to reveal depth I didn’t realize any of the previous times I’ve read it. Isn’t that proof enough of its greatness?

The scary part is Mage: The Hero Discovered is only the first part of a concienved trilogy that also includes Mage: The Hero Defined, which finally saw print in 1997 and the as yet unpublished (or even started on, as far as fans know) Mage: The Hero Denied. When it all finally sees its end, I truly believe Mage will stand os one of those crowning achievements of comics. Deeper in subtext than Watchmen and Wagner himself will be held in the same breath as the greats like Will Eisner and Alex Toth. So Matt Wagner’s journey is not done yet, which is kind of a good thing because it means that neither is Kevin Matchstick’s.

The Hero's Journey Remains Unfinished...

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POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #5: Wolverine Cries

Look At This Cover And Try Telling Me Some Shit Ain't Going Down!

I didn’t always hate Wolverine as a character. Hell there was a time he was my second favorite X-Man after Cyclops. Then something happened in the late 1980s, you couldn’t fucking escape Wolverine. He was in every damn Marvel comic, sometimes not even really serving a purpose othe than to put him on the cover to boost sales. It was this constant overexposure that made Wolverine my second least favorite X-Man ever, right behind Gambit. Man do I fucking hate Gambit… er… where was I?

The Defining Wolverine Issue - Uncanny X-Men #133

I cannot pinpoint the comic where I started loathing Wolverine but I can definitely pinpoint where my appreciation for him was at its apex. Uncanny X-Men issues 172-173. These comics followed up the dangling story points from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s amazing Wolverine 4 issue mini-series. Wolverine had been easily the mos popular characer overall since The X-Men came back from their forced hiatus with Giant Size X-Men #1. He was given the huge spotlight issue during the Hellfire Club/Dark Pheonix Saga in Uncanny X-Men 133. In it Wolvverine keeps his promise to get revenge on the Hellfire Club for ambushing the X-Men and he does so by just beating the hell out of everything in his path. The highlight comes early in the issue as one Hellfire Club agent is left alone with Wolverine and our man Logan taunts him into surrendering. It is was really the first time we, as readers, saw Wolverine use just his ability to talk to win a fight and it was pretty damn sweet.

So it went from that point onward, Wolverine was the official badass of The Marvel Universe. He was portrayed as this little berserker that when he entered a fight, could change the odds in the X-Men’s favor. But writer Chris Claremont had bigger ideas for Wolverine. Thus Wolverine travelled to Japan after the X-Men came back to Earth following their litle war in space with the Brood (Uncanny X-Men 155-168). See, before the X-Men went through the harrowing experience of having to kill Jean Grey, they had been to Japan to fight Moses Magnum. It’s better if you don’t ask who Moses Magnum is, he isn’t that important. The person who is important was Mariko Yashida, the daughter of Yakuza crimelord Shingen Yashida. It is Mariko who Wolverine becomes utterly smitten with and spends the entire 4 issue Wolverine miniseries trying to free from her father’s clutches. Our boy Logan succeeds and the mini-series ends with the wedding invitation of He and ariko being recieved by the X-Men in Westchester.

Ladies & Genltman...

Uncanny X-Men 172 picks up a few weeks later, as the rest of the X-Men arrive in Japan for the wedding. Needless to say shit goes south fast, as the Yakuza poison the X-Men and kidnap Mariko, thus leaving only Wolverine and Rogue, who only just joined the team 2 issues ago, as the last X-Men standing. The Yakuza don’t want Mariko, as Shingen’s only heir, to takeover the Yashida clan since she wants them to go legit. Instead the Yakuza would rather her cousin, Kenuichio Harada aka third string Daredevil nemesis The Silver Samurai, take the post since he has ties to Hydra via his partner Lady Viper (though this is during her “Just Viper” phase). So Uncanny X-Men 173 is all about Wolverine tearing apart Tokyo to get to Silver Samurai. Rogue is along for the ride, essentially playing the role Spider-Man would play if Spider-Man went to Tokyo with Wolverine i.e. wise-cracking smart-ass. It’s really all Wolverine will let Rogue do since he still had not learned to trust her at this point, what with her being an ex-member of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants just being the tip of the iceberg.

Panel For Panel...

So after ripping every Yakuza owned business in Tokyo to shreds, he finally has his big showdown with Silver Samurai in one of the BEST comic book fights of the 80s. Its 3 pages of 2 guys just beating the crap out of each other. In other words, everything a great comic book fight should be. Even more impressive is that Silver Samurai gives as good as he gets in it. I mean this guy was barely a Daredevil villain and in 3 pages Chris Claremeont and artist Paul Smith have him go toe-to-toe with Wolverine, who at that point was the BADASS of Badasses at Marvel. Still, this is Wolverine, the character that was quickly becoming as much a poster-boy for Marvel as Spider-Man was. Ain’t no way our boy Logan was losing to The Silver Samurai. Even worse, this is Wolverine in one of his most brutal fights so you know he is going into it with the killing mindset, which is probably the most realisitc Wolverine had been written up to that point. I mean the guy had his friends poisoned and fiancee kidnapped just so the Yakuza could have ties to Hydra. So when it comes time for the coup-de-grace, Logan has no qualms about ending Silver Samurai once and for all.

One Of The GREATEST Fights In All Of Comics!

Of course there has to be a fly in the ointment and that fly is Mariko Yashida herself. With Silver Samurai at her mercy, she pleads with Logan for his life. Wolverine points out that by letting him live, this kind of thing will keep happening. Mariko points out that Harada has been shamed and will do what is necessary to redeem his honor (i.e. serve her willingly as her protector). That’s when Viper appears and unloads her laser pistol right at Wolverine and Mariko. It looks like its curtains for Wolverine and Mariko… but then it is Rogue to the rescue as she outraces the laser bolt and takes the shot for the two lovers, even shoving them into a separate room for safety. Viper keeps unloading until her pistol overloads, forcing her to retreat via teleportation but the damage she left behind actually seriously messes Rogue up. It was at that point Rogue earned Wolverine’s trust. It was also one of the last time I liked Rogue as a character as she went from being this scared little girl trying control her powers and deal with having absorbed Carol Danvers psyche/personality in Avengers Annual #10 to becoming a sexpot southern girl who can’t actually touch people. See how the latter personality is incongruous with the actual powers? Oh Chris Claremont and his wacky dichotomy of writing characters.

So Rogue ends up in the Hospital, Viper gets away and the X-Men go ahead with Wolverine’s very Japanese wedding ceremony. Of course, this is Superhero comics, which are just soap operas for little boys (with lots of punching). Even in a little boy’s soap opera a wedding is not going off without a hitch. The hitch here is that someone has hypnotized Mariko to stop the wedding right before the exchanging of vows. Her excuse? Logan-san is not worthy of her. She pretty much calls him an animal right in front of all the X-Men and her family (who were no doubt thrilled their clanswoman was choosing to marry a Gaijin) and then just walks off. The X-Men are stunned and each offer their sincerest apologies to Wolverine. The last page is just downright heartbreaking. Wolverine and Mariko pass each other, no words spoken between the two, then we see who is really responsible for this… Mastermind! This was during his evil little revenge scheme for what Jean Grey did to him during the Dark Phoenix Saga. Then the last panel of the page hits us… a single teardrop rolls down Wolverine’s cheek.

Even The Toughest Guys Get Their Hearts Broken

I was 12 or 13 when this comic hit the stands and to this day, it still brings a tear to my eye. It was the only time that I’ve felt sorry for Wolverine. He had the love of his life not only reject him but do it in public and demeaning him by calling him that which he struggled not to be. It was a giant gut-punch that knocked the wind out of me emotionally as a reader becasue here was this character I really liked letting his feelings for someone all hang out. He thought she accepted him for who he was, for what he went through just to be with her. Instead she tore his out and crushed it under her heel. Sure, the fallout from this all tied into the now famous “From The Ashes…” storyline. It was a storyline that really fucked with the X-Men on an emotional level by using the memories of the then dead Jean Grey against them. But this, this was really heart-wrenching thing to do to a favorite character. It was almost killing Gwen Stacy bad… almost. Wolverine cried in Uncanny X-Men 173. For that alone, it is a Great Moment in Comics. The fact that entire issue is first page to last AMAZING… well shit, that’s just icing on the cake!

Until Next Time...

POW! Returns or Yet Anoter List!

Comic Books have been a huge part of my life. I can honestly say that in my 39 years on this planet that 34 of them have been spent reading Comic Books. No matter how you slice it, that is a lot of reading material and it’s not like I haven’t been picky. I mean I’ve been through the DC implosion of the 70s, the Marvel eruption of the 80s, 2 decades worth of the Independent Boom and the God Awful 90s. I’ve watched Superboy and Supergirl die twice each, The Avengers break-up and re-assemble more times than I can count and the Justice League do the same yet at even greater frequency.

Hell do you know just how many Aquaman relaunches I’ve had to go through?

So I was sitting here pondering on comics and wondered with the thousands upon thousands of comics I have read and re-read over the years, which individual comics rate above the others? I’m not talking storylines mind you but individual issues of any given series. Is it something that occurred in the middle of a specific story? Was it a standalone issue? Was it a particular character’s death that really stood out? Sweet crap! Just what the best individual issues in all of comics?

Of course this can only mean it is time for yet another Brave Blog List. I determined the number of individual comic books that will be discussed will be 7. This number was selected in the most Democratic way possible. I rolled a D20. Thank God I didn’t get something like 18 or this list would take forever. So over the next few weeks you, my dear readers, will be privy to POW! Presents: The 7 All Time Greatest Individual Comic Issues. This little project is going to take some serious thought and there might even be some comics that many of you will be surprised I chose. Either way this will be fun. O many comics to consider, not enough memory in my head to remember them all. Hell there is a good chance that this will end up being a very 80s heavy list, though the 60s have so much Lee/Kirby awesome moments that I might just have to save them for their own separate list at a later time.

7 Comics to be discussed at length, an experiment that should give you a more than good idea as to what I like in my comic books. I’ll keep this as clean as possible, so no issues of Cherry Poptart will be reviewed (also no Omaha The Cat Dancer either). I’ll definitely shy away from Manga as counting Tankoban’s is just choosing one graphic novel that first saw print in another format first. This also means reprint anthologies are right out, no matter how many volumes of Adventure Comics Digest I bought between the ages of 10 and 13. I’m debating whether to also leave out any and all DC War Comics because there is just no such thing as a bad DC War Comic and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty Pinko Commie!

So sit tight Brave Blog Backers! POW! Comics Presents The 7 Greatest Individual Comics Of All Time is coming your way!

POW! Bi-Weekly Comics Review 9/25/2010

Back & Badass!

I know, I can’t beleive it either, after way to long, POW!! Bi-Weekly Comics Reviews returns!

So much has happened since my last edition of POW! in…January?
HOLY SHIT!
I’m a lazy slob!

So much has been added and removed my pull list in the last 9 months. Shit, I even started reading X-Men related books after 16 years of swearing to never again. Some titles got shuffled to the side because, in the end, they are going to get fast turnaround for Trades. Others have remained on the list but have gone completely against what I was reading them for (Hi Wonder Woman and Superman, you both go here). Some still chug-along at being really awesome (The entire Bat-line for DC has been amazing) and along the way there have been some really nice gems (Damn you BENDIS, Scarlett is to good not to read). Some books were added to my pull list and then quickly dropped (so long Black Widow, you had such potential and crapped it away in 3 issues). some additions are welcome favorites (I missed you Captain America) while some that started promising quickly gave way to just some really plain stupid storytelling that borderd on Fan Fiction writing bad. Yeah I’m looking at you X-Men titles. How does Marvel put out something as EPIC as X-Men: Second Coming and then crap it away a month later with the tripe that is X-Men: Curse of The Mutants?

So let’s jump right into the pile for 9/25/2010, shall we?

This week The good people at Heavy Ink shipped me 14 books. 10 of these were DC titles, 2 were Marvel and 2 actually came from Image. As always I’ll reviw in order of book I enjoyed most first and then it is a free for all.

X-23 #1

– Wow! For a book featuring teenaged female Wolverine , this book was pretty dialogue heavy. In fact nothing really happens in this first issue of X-23 until like the last 2 pages. Actually, I don’t really mind that, because after how great Second Coming was, the subject of “what the hell do we do with X-23?” is something The X-Men were going to have to address. You almost get that vibe that this is going to the solo teen-angst book but the dialogue makes you realize that it is more about how the adults project their angst i.e. what they’ve subjected this character to onto and how that guilt is making them even more screwed up than they were before and these are the X-Men! They were Emo before Emo was Emo! Marjorie Liu, I’m putting faith in you to keep me hooked on this title. The first issue was more than I hoped for, don’t screw it up after just one issue!

Batgirl #14 - FUNNEST BOOK OF THE WEEK!

Hey who doesn’t love a good “Girls Night Out” comic? More importantly who doesn’t love a good team-up between members of the Bat-Family and the House of El? I mean c’mon, its Batgirl and Supergirl fighting holographic Draculas, what’s not to love? Man I’m glad I added this to my pull list. This was my first issue of Batgirl and it was everything a fun comic should be. It is also what you want to see in a single issue team-up between Batgirl and Supergirl! Of course I’m guessing this isn’t going to hold up for much longer what with Bruce Wayne coming back to the DCU proper next month. I hope this book can remain fun yet still have the proper sense of adventure and action a Batman related book should.

Supergirl #56

How can one sum up how much I love Supergirl right now? Supergirl is fun as it gets but this current story-arc with Supergirl and Bizarro Supergirl travelling to Bizarro Earth as it is getting destroyed by what seems like a giant space bug… well that right there is just good comics my friend. I mean hell, if its got Bizarro in it, ANY Bizarro in it, I’ll read the damn thing. Add to this Bizarro #1 and of course the fun of deciphering Bizarro speak, well my friend then you have a comic worth reading. How good is it? So good that my buddy with the Bond Villain name, Chris Van Gelder – Hater of All Things Superman, even admitted to digging the story building to this issue. For Van Gelder to admit that is HUGE~! It is also proof that Supergirl is worth every penny I sink into it!

Green Lantern Corps #52

Y’know the main Green Lantern title has been suffering from MSS (Meandering Story Syndrome) since Blackest Night came to its way overhyped conclusion. But over in GLC Tony Bedard has taken over the reigns from Peter Tomasi and have given us closure on the saga of the Alpha Lanterns (and possibly rid us of Hank Henshaw to boot). I think I’m just happy that Jon Stewart played a major role in this since he pretty much spent most of Blackest Night crying over how he let the planet Xanshi explode back in 1988. Now if GLC can give us consistent Stewart and Kyle Rayner stories with random Lanterns thrown in, as well as the Bromance of Isamot Kol and Vath Sarn. I love GLC a lot as the tales of other GLC members is just ot great as a concept for it noit to have a great bok and luckily, it has just that!

Birds Of Prey #5

Birds of Prey have been back since April or so and so far, its been… ok… not great but every issue has moved the story, set-up in the issue, e along. I like the book and the characters. Hell I’ve ALWAYS liked the characters and the book. There really isn’t another book like it on the shelves. It also features Lady Blackhawk, the best no nosense dame in comics! (Note: Dammit why can’t Alex Ross give us a Lady Blackhawk poster?) Still, this Black Canary/White Canary arc needs to wrap up so we can get to some right proper espionage and rescue missions dammit~!

Morning Glories #1 (& 2)

If you had told me back in January that I’d be buying an Image book in 2010 I’m sure some epic insults about me copulating with your Mother would have followed. But here we are in 2010, rapidly coming upon 2011 and Image has put out something that was so much fun in its first issue that it had me giddy to read the second. Good thing they came in the same shipment. Honestly though, Image has gone from being the bastard child of disgruntled Marvel employees that it started as, to being a fine publisher of truly different comics. Take Morning Glories for example, a book that is about 6 kids who are accepted to Morning Glory Academy, a rather… um… Unique Prep/Boarding School. Hey, I can relate to this book! I went to a Boarding School where I learned valuable lessons and skills… like forgery, extortion and how to sneak up the fire escape to the girls dorm so I could watch them change… what? I was a teenager, I was supposed to be a pervert! Anyway, Morning Glories is chock full of quick snappy dialogue and an archetype for every character (Ladies Man? Check! Tramp? Check! Token aSian Student who may or may not know Kung-fu? Checj! Emo Girl that writes bad poetry? BIG CHECK!). In the first 2 issues we’ve had an exploding blackboard, a 1960s Batman deathtrap disguised as a classroom and an RA try to stab some of the girls on her floor. Yup, sounds EXACTLY like my Boarding School!

Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #2

I like the IDEA of a Guy Gardner-centric Green Lantern title but so far I’m not impressed. Two issues in and it feels like they’ve cut down Guy’s swagger a bit and Guy Gardner is 100% swgger. Still, teaming guy up with Arisia and Kilowog (and I’m guessing Sodam Yat eventually) isn’t a bad idea for a team book. The book is a solid read and it is looking to clean up the aftermath of Guy’s little Red Lantern rampage during Blackest Night. The fact that it is dragging the Blue Lanterns and Red Lanterns into the story means that next issue should pick up the pace a little bit. I’ll stick with this book for now because… well, I’m Green Lantern fan dammit! I love the concept of the Green Lantern Corps right down to the core and really, Guy has deserved to have his own book again for some time now.

Batman Beyond #4

Hey lookit that, we discover who the new Hush is… but I’m buying it. Revealing the mystery of the Big Bad Villain in the fourth issue of a six issue mini-series is Comic Book Writing 101. Pure bait and switch through and through. So we’ll finish out this fun ride in to the world of Terry Mcginnis and then get ready for the ongoing series in 2011… unless the payoff ot this story sucks balls and we end up with something stupid like a clone of Alfred returning as “The Outsider”… who am I kidding, I’d read that… probably… no no, I’d definitely read that because chances are it would end up in Grant Morrison’s hands and Alfred Pennyworth would end up as the new head of the Gotham City Underworld!

Uncanny X-Men #528

Put down that X-Men: Curse of The Mutants tie-in right now! The best X-Men books are Uncanny X-Men and X-Men Legacy. In Uncanny we are getting the search for the 5 new lights that Cerebra picked up after Second Coming. Its a big deal because these are the first new active X-Genes since M-Day from the ludicrously awful House of M story back in the mid-00. Sweet Jesus, I just referred to something in the new Century as in the past tense already. Doesn’t that tell you how awful House of M really was? anyway, Storm and Hope Summers (who is in no way the next Phoenix) travel to Nigeria, the new world leader in Ethnic/Religious cleansing, in order to track down the newest of the five lights. Now I know that “Hope & The 5 Lights” sounds like either a terrible children’s book or mediocre R&B group from the 50s but the whole concept of finding these new mutants efore they accidentally kill someone… well that’s a good idea. Of course this issue just kind of skipped over the ending to the previous issue but why quibble? Its a good read, soemthing I never thought I’d say abut X-Men comics ever again. Oh also in this issue, Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde come to an understanding of sorts.

Our Fighting Forces One-Shot #1

I really wanted to like this book. I mean, its a DC war comic and it had The Losers in it. That right there is a one-two punch. To my recollection DC has never put out a bad World War 2 comic. Now I’m not saying this comic was bad. I loved the story, because its The Losers DAMMIT! No, my complaint is with the art. Now I’m not saying Chad Hardin is a bad artist, in fact that isn’t the case at all. But this is a DC War Comic man, the art needs to be as gritty as the story beign told. Am I asking for too much? I mean, I know not everyone can draw like Joe Kubert (the definitive “let’s a draw World War 2 story” artist) but what made DC War comics so great was grittiness of war was portrayed with the fantastic action and usually a moral about the horrors of war at the end of the story. I got the action, I got the moral but I didn’t get the gritty. I’ll give this book 4 issues and I hope we get more than just The Losers (I might be the only fan of The ‘Mercs out there).

Batman Annual #27 (& Detective Comics Annual #11)

– Hey Batman teams-up with both the Question and the New Azrael for a story that was ok. We get a moment between The Question and Harvey Bullock, the once again shows that Bullock might be a slob but he is still one helluva detective. Basically, Batman and Robin are out ot stop a cult from sacrificing a group of children who all share the same bloodline. Even worse is the flow from the Batman Annual to the Detective Comics Annual seems non-existant, as part 2 almost seems to start off as a different story entirely. Add to this an Oracle back-up story where she has to call in the most uselss of the original Outsiders in Looker. Its 2010 and we’re reading a Looker story? In 2010? Really? This is more exposure than Looker got than in all of the 00’s. Could the return Colonel Blimp be far behind?

Legion Of Superheroes #5

The quest to find the Green Lantern of the 31st Century continues. The Legion is turning into Degrassi as we find out who is sleeping with who and I’m still confused as to why Princess Projectra is Sensor Girl in this version of The Legion because the original purpose of Projectra becoming Sensor Girl was to A) Trick Legion faithful into thinking that Sensor Girl was Supergirl and B) Projectra took up the mantle of Sensor Girl after watching Karate Kid sacrifice to save her home planet of Orando. Well if Karate Kid died during Countdown in the post Infinite Crisis world, why was there a need for Projectra to even become Sensor Girl? More importantly, why did they change her already awesome costume? I’m still reading Legion but Paul Levitz better address some of these issues soon!

That’s the ballgame kids!

Join me next time as Lex Luthor fights Gorilla Grodd, The new version of X-Force launches and we continue our journey with J. Michael Staczynski’s re-imagining of Wonder Woman which, unlike most fans, I don’t hate!

POW! Bi-Weekly Comics Review 01/11/2010

After taking some time off to recharge my creative battery, I return to the wonderful world of Blogging and what better way than to give you 3 weeks worth of comic book reviews?

Good For What Ails Ya!

This week we have 8 titles spanning 6 different comic book publishers. The breakdown comes out to 2 from DC, 2 from Vertigo, 1 from Marvel, 1 from Oni, 1 from Dynamite and 1 from Dark Horse. As is my usual custom I’ll start off by thanking Heavy Ink for shipping my comics and the United States Postal Service for delivering them. Now these weren’t the only books a I bought and read over the last month off. I took a dive into the world The Boys by purchasing the first 3 volumes on Amazon. I also have to give a big shout out to my buddy Grill Ninja for lending me volumes 1-9 of The Goon, which was pretty much a revelation to me as to just how awesome that particuliar title actually is. Also big props to my romm mate Drew, I’m able to keep on top of the DC Blackest Night shenanigans thansk to his monthly subscriptions to Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. With all the necessary thanks out of the way let us now dive into this weeks pile shall we?

Wonder Woman #39

Gail Simone finishes her current major story arc by wrapping up Diana’s struggle with Alkyone AND ending the subplot with Zeus that had been building since Simone took over the book over 2 years ago. That my friends is some seriously well laid out storytelling. Simone can officially be called one of only 3 writers to ever write Wonder Woman in a compelling and entertaining way. Given that she is joining the ranks of George Perez and Greg Rucka, that is saying quite a bit about Simone’s ability to make me care about Princess Diana, something I didn’t think would happen after the awful Jodi Picoult relaunch following Infinite Crisis. Fuck spoilers, you should know that after all the shit the Princess of Themiscyra has been through for the last 2 years she once again stands victorious as the champion of love and peace in the DC Universe. Really, how can anyone not love this book right now?

Stumptown #2

Stumptown #2 is finally out? Fuck it seems like forever ago that issue one hit the stands. I mean looking in my own archives, I reviewed the first issue back in November. Fuck, that almost seems like an eternity. Still, at least the second issue came out and it was just as riveting as the first one. The mystery deepens as Dexedrine Parios continues on her missing persons case. More palyers get introduced not the least of which is Dex’s cop buddy Tracy Hoffman. Remeber when in my review for issue one I compared Stumptown ot The Rockford Files? Well if Dex Parios is Jim Rockford then Tracy Hoffman must be her version of Dennis Becker. Ifyou don’t know who Dennis Becker is then serisouly… go watch a few episode of The Rockford Files, Dennis is bound to show up and he is likely to be just as annoyed with Jim as Tracy is with Dex. Greg Rucka is crafting a pretty fine mystery here if you ask me and the only compaint I have is that each issue leaves me wanting more… but isn’t that just how a good writer proves he is good writer? By leaving you wanting more? FUCK RIGHT!

The Icredible Hercules #139

Assault On New Olympus continues in Big Herc’s book this month and for a book that is one giant fight scene, it sure does pack in a fuckton of dialogue. We watch as The Mighty Avengers brawl with Hera’s Olympians and poor Amadeus Cho deals with trying to prevent Thanatos, the Greek God of Death, from entering the fray. We get more great tried and true Spider-Man dialogue written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente. Of course this issue ends on one helluva a cliffhanger which really gives you the vibe that our heroes just might be royally screwed!

Cinderella - From Fabletown With Love #3

Cindy and Aladdin continue to delve int othe mystery of just who is selling the magics of Fablekind to the Mundane highest bidder . Humor, ation and even a dash of sex get thrown into the mix. This book has been fun and the reveal at the end of just who is behind all this kind of threw me off. Also, things do not bode well for Crispin back at The Glass Slipper as poor Rapunzel buys herself a new pair of running shoes. Read that last sentence again and you might just see why that is a bad thing in the world of Fables.

Look at that, nearly half done already. I was expecting this to take much longer otwrite due to my 3 weeks of not writing longer than my signature. I guess 3 weeks of letting my brain slag-off really pays off…

Blackest Night #6

As Blackest Night rolls on, I ask myself “Self, is this really that great a story?”. Honestly… I don’t know anymore. I don’t know where Geoff Johns got the idea that Aquaman’s wife can hold her own against the Princess of Themiscyra but it is just absolutely ludicrous. That’s like Aquaman fighting the Hulk for fuck sake! Anyway the new Corps of The Emotional Spectrum gets unveiled… TWICE! At least we get to see Ray Palmer in pseudo-Sword Of The Atom gear again. What? I liked Sword Of The Atom! Fuck, I was hoping we’d get teeny-tiny little undead yellow skinned savages tormenting Ray. Instead we have to deal with Jean Loring’s crazy ass again. Which sounds better… Undead Eclipso tormenting Ray or undead teeny-tinys attacking Ray, forcing him to take up his mighty blade once more? If you said undead Eclipso then you are dead to me…

Madame Xanadu #18

Matt Wagner just can’t seem ot leave the subject of King Arthur alone. Okay, since I started reading Madame Xanadu with issue 17, apparently there is a ton of stuff I missed. Namely, Madame Xanadu is Nimue from Camelot. Weird since everyone who has ever drawn her before this current series has always drawn her to look Asian or at least a little Romany. That explains why Morgan Le Fey showed up at the end of last issue. So we are getting a an arch-nemesis for our favorite Tarot Reader/Occult Investigator. That’s pretty cool. However this rivalry doesn’t get off to a good start for Madame X as Morgan trashes her house in Manhattan and leaves buried under some rubble. I imagine we will getthe classic homage to Amazing Spider-Man #33… just minus the “Aunt May is depending on me…” schtick… though I could be wrong and before you know it Madame X is doing it for Aunt May. Not THAT Aunt May. Just some other Aunt May. Hey that brings up an interesting question… Matt Wagner has never done anything for Marvel has he? Weird…

Conan The Cimmerian #17

I’m pretty sure I’m done with Conan The Cimmerian after this story ends. Conan in comic form doesn’t measure up to the theater of the mind’s eye when actually reading Howard’s original stories. I know that is an unfair thing to say, given that Howard was a once in a century kind of writer, who had his life cut short by his own hand and thus denying us his true potential. Still, I’m pretty sure Conan The Cimmerian is gone from my pull list. Unless Dark Horse stuns me with something like Barry Windsor-Smith doing an arc and I just don’t see that one happening.

Queen Sonya #3

Finally Queen Sonja picks up as Sonya and her new crew take the war to Emora. How is it that Red Sonja is a better read than this month’s Conan? I mean last month Conan was the better read but that had Conan going hand to hand with a velociraptor. This month? Red Sonja leads a slave revolt and many bastards of Emora are slain. Maybe the advantage of all this is that Robert E. Howard DIDN’T create Red Sonja, he created Red Sonya of Rogatino, a completely different character. Maybe it is the gact that there is nothing to compare between the two that allows me to enjoy this month’s Queen Sonja better than I do Conan in his current comic book incarnation. Maybe I should just pick-up those Savage Sword of Conan reprints Dark Horse has been releasing instead…

There you have ti my friends, 8 titles and for the most part all were fun reads. Maybe my malaise with Conan will evaporate in the next issue. I mean shit did hit the fan at the end of the last issue and when shit hits the fan in Conan that usually means a large body count. I guess we’ll find out in 2 weeks as Conan The Cimmerian #18 will be in my grubby hands along with the Conan one-shot Weight Of The Crown. Assault On New Olympus reaches its penultimate issue with The Incredible Hercules #140 and hopefully The Mighty Avengers can pull a win out of their asses in that one. We also get to see the ongoing courtship of Power Girl by intergalactic stud Vartox in Power Girl #8, which hopefully is as much fun as the last issue was. We’ll then wrap it all up with Fables 92, where Geppetto may or may not get his ass handed to him by a very vengeful Blue Fairy.

POW! Bi-Weekly Comics Review! 12/8/2009

Its been 2 weeks and an extra day of mail but dammit, MY COMICS FINALLY SHOWED UP!
That can only mean one thing here at Brave Blog…

This week we have a total of 8 books to review, spanning a total of 3 whole comic book publishers or 4 if Vertigo is a separate entity from DC, which given who shows up in Madame Xanadu this shipment slots it in the “No, DC definitely owns your ass” department. Once again I’d like to thank the fine men and women at http://www.HeavkInk.com for providing their excellent service as well as the United States Postal Service, who manage to keep my books in pretty spiffy condition. First book review is the Official Best Book Of The Bi-Weekly Reading Period!

Superman Secret Origin #3

Gary Frank is going to go down in history as one of the great Superman artists. It is that simple. Everything he has done when drawing the character is just incredible. From the awesome Christopher Reeves looking version of Clark Kent to the sheer earnest look on Jimmy Olsen’s face… this guy draws the heck out of Superman and his cast. His Lois Lane is pretty damn wicked as well, like a cross between Jennifer Connelly and Lauren Graham. Add to this Geoff Johns just killing on the writing and you know that this comic is king. This month, young Clark Kent leaves the safety of Smallville and ventures forth into the great big metropolis of… um… Metropolis! See a beaten down Perry White try to keep together the reputation of The Daily Planet as Lois Lane proves that not even a lack of press credentials will keep her out of Lex Luthor’s press conference. Of course Clark is along for the ride and this leads to the debut of… SUPERMAN! Or at least Clark in the suit while in Metropolis. Seeing a nervous Superman is pretty weird, but Clark being self-conscious about making his debut is so totally believable.Then there is the irony of him doubting whether or not revealing himself to the public is a wise move… This just might be the best Superman story since Superman For All Seasons. Yeah I said it, as great as Johns run on Big Blue has been going, Superman For All Seasons remains the last Superman story that I really adored. At this rate, Johns and Frank are about to add this mini-series to the list.

The Incredible Hercules #138

Let’s see… Crazy Goddess? Check! 7th smartest person in the world? Check! One Prince Of Power? Check? One massive throw-down between the Avengers and the monstrous forces of Hera? BIG CHECK! The Incredible Hercules delivers all this and more, as Herc leads a ragtag Avengers team against the Olympus Group, a company that the mad Goddess Hera has been running on earth. Why? Well to make “The Continuum”, a device that is going to set-off another round of creation in the Universe by recreating the BIG BANG, with only Hera and the Olympian Pantheon still standing. Good thing Hercules is here to stop that crazy bitch! If you want a big old school Marvel-style fight then this is the book for you! Sure it is to be continued next issue but the build-up to the fight is great and the dialog is crackerjack fun. Greg Pak should be writing Spider-Man, because his Spider-Man dialog feels like Spider-Man dialog. Rodney Buschemi and Gabriel Hardman team-up on art duty and they provide a fun breezy feel to the proceedings. Yeah, this is part 1 of 4 to the Assault On New Olympus story but if the rest is as much fun as this one was then count me in for the rest of it. I am beginning to understand why people are loving this book!

Cinderella, From Fabletown With Love #2

Last time, we left our girl Cinderella in a precarious predicament, as she was about to be stabbed in the back while undercover in Dubai. Cindy, along with her new cohort Aladdin, track down the black market Fable who is selling magical items to the mundies. Things do not go smooth from there. This issue was mainly about introducing the suave knave of Aladdin and also to remind us that Aladdin commanded 2 djinni, not just the one. There is also the matter of how Cindy’s shoestore is doing back in Fabletown with her gone. Let’s just say the elves are not amused…

Wonder Woman #38

I’m a Gail Simone fan and feel bad I haven’t kept up with her run on our favorite Amazon since that really bizarre story that featured all the forgotten DC fantasy characters. I’m coming in at the tail end of a major story arc here, yet I don’t find myself lost in this tale at all. Diana is a prisoner on Themiscyra after being bested by Achilles in combat. Now Alkyone, one of Queen Hippolyta’s devoted subjects, has been pulling the strings in order to remove Diana as ruler of the Amazons. Of course with the Wonder Woman under lock and key in jail, many of her sisters are plotting to overthrow Achilles and Alkyone. If you really think Donna Troy and Artemis are going to sit back and not take action then you best think again! If you think Achilles is happy that Alkyone is planning on executing Diana… think again! If you think Wonder Woman isn’t going to fight back… man this is good reading. Simone proves that she was the one who should’ve been writing Wonder Woman after Greg Rucka. To date there have been only 2 great writers for Wonder Woman (George Perez and Rucka). If Gail Simone can get me this involved at the tale end of a story then she just might become the third. You should be reading Wonder Woman!

Fables #90

Fables is one of those books that I’ve never gotten single issues of. I’ve always caught up via the collected volumes, so reading it in single issue form is new for me. The fact the Bill Willingham is using Ozma, the deposed Princess of Oz, as one of the main characters in this arc is pretty fucking cool. Having read the majority of the Oz books by Baum, I am really psyched to see actual characters from Oz and not the MGM interpretation. I mean we’ve already seen the Gnome King before so it is nice to see another Oz character take center stage. As for the story, Frau Totenkinder has left the Fabletown Magic Council, leaving Ozma to play magical politics and start her own regime. Meanwhile, the Fabletown treasury gets some much needed relief and Buffkin the Flying Monkey spwends some quality time fucking with Baba Yaga! Oh Fables, I do so love reading you!

Madame Xanadu #17

Wow! 3 Vertigo books this week, as I take my chances on reading Madame Xanadu. I never thought I’d be reading the adventures of an old DC 70s horror character that ended up as a supporting player in the old Spectre series from the 90s. This issue, in the swinging 60s Madame X looks into a group of middle class average folks, who just happen to be a big old cult of satanists. I swear, the first eight pages had me totally snowed, as it was implied that a different kind of couples gathering was going down. Anyway, Madame X observes and investigates and crosses paths with a certain detective that confirms that DC and Vertigo are most definitely connected. Of course, swingign Satanists aren’t the only thing Madame X has to worry about, as family comes a knockin’… I will read anything Mat Wagner writes. Matt Wagner writes Madame Xanadu, therefore I shall read Madame Xanadu. It doesn’t hurt that it is a decent little read and the art is pretty good. I shall continue with Madame Xanadu for the time being.

Queen Sonja #2

Red Sonja befriends a group of female Caucasian ninjas. Red Sonja and the white ninjas get captured. This was all apart of Red Sonja’s plan to find where the raiders from Emora are camping their troops. Red Sonja’s plan worked. For some reason, Red Sonja doesn’t kill someone in this comic. I am not pleased. Still, we get how the slavers/rapists from last issue (the ones that Red Sonja KILLED!) tie into all this. Not bad, not good. This pretty much screamed “This is the middle issue of the mini-series”. Hopefully there will be much bloodshed and slaughter in issue 3.

Blackest Night #5

I have enjoyed Blackest Night so far but this issue was so… anti-climactic. I mean bad enough that the villain is Nekron, a Green Lantern villain that no one has ever given a shit a bout. I mean EVER! Making Nekron the Big Bad in this is like reading a giant Batman crossover only to find out that the man behind everything was a third stringer like Signalman. This was underwhelming. I mean the art was great but story-wise, I just wanted more. Everything you expected to happen, happens and that makes for dull reading.

Well that is this week’s shipment. Overall not bad but not as much fun as last time. I love the Superman Secret Origins and there were enough firstt ime reads to leave me intrigued that I’ll stick with them for a few more issues. In 2 weeks we get a rather light shipment with only 2 books and one GIANT graphic novel volume. We follow-up my monthly plunge into Fables with issue 91 and maybe we get to see just how ruthless little Ozma can be, From there We get more fun with Power Girl #7 and the return of an old Superman villain. Finally we get the Kodansha release of Akira Volume 1. Akira is one of those things that everyone should read because it is just so mind-boggling awesome. I look forward re-reading in what may be its 3rd translation for the United States. Good times to be had by all.

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!

STUMPTOWN #1

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

Superman - Secret Origin #1

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?

Superman - Secret Origin #2

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!

Flash Rebirth #4

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…

Flash Rebirth #5

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!)

Batman & Robin #6

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.

Cinderella, From Fabletown With Love #1

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.

Conan The Cimmerian #16

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…

The Increible Hercules #137

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!

Red Sonja, She-Devil With A Sword #49

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…

Queen Sonja #1

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…

S.W.O.R.D. #1

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!

POW! BI-WEEKLY COMICS REVIEW! 11/9/09

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I love comic books! I really do. It doesn’t even have to be a superhero book, as I’m just as happy to read Fables as I am a comic with Superman. So imagine my utter glee this Saturday when the mail got dropped off and there was a package from Heavy Ink in the mailbox?

Now there are at least 3 good comic shops in Toledo. So why am I getting my books through the mail you may ask? The answer to that is that one of those shops is also a gaming store and reeks old cheetos, sweat and stale Mountain Dew, so it basically smells like how one would imagine Craigslist to smell if Craigslist were a tangible place. The other 2 shops are farther away and I don’t like travelling more than 20 minutes to get my books. I realize that I should be supporting my Local Comic Shops and I do feel a little bad aout not going to those shops (I won’t refer to them by name here, not that I’m a regular at either, its just a matter of that would be kind of classless). I will still make the effort to go to at least one of those shops because really, their inventory of comics related merchandise is just too immense thus making it the perfect place for a geek like me to do his Christmas/Hanukkah shopping at.

Still… MY COMICS ARE HERE! MY COMICS ARE HERE!

Ahem… Now that I’m done running around like an excited 5 year old, let’s get down to business. I had halted my subscriptions in August due to bills and general lack of cash flow. Thus when things started to pick-up again I went ahead and reactivated some of my titles. I have everything set on a bi-weekly shipping schedule so I’ll be writing up reviews of what I’m reading 2-3 times a month. This shipment features 3 titles and 8 books overall, so I had plenty of reading.

THE HAUL:

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Power Girl #4

I totally love this book! First, Amanda Conner is a great artist and she draws some of the best facial expressions in all of comics (well her and Adam Hughes and Kevin Maguire). The fact that she kept pace with this title while drawing the Supergirl feature in Wednesday Comics shows what a pro she is. The story itself sees Power Girl taking Terra out to the movies and saying thanks for helping her out during the super-fun Ultra-Humanite story in issues 1-3. Of course things don’t stay quiet as PG has to deal with a teenager who is using an old magic tome to commit some minor eco-terrorism. A really simple fun issue where everything gets wrapped up in a single issue. All this and PG goes apartment hunting!

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Power Girl #5

PG deals with a spaceship crashing in Manhattan, complete with 3 runaway alien princesses. Again more great stuff by Amanda Conner and the story by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, who I totally should’ve credited in the review above, was just as fun as the previous issue. The writing of the book makes sure there is good balance of action and sly humor. I mean this is Power Girl, a character that has been defined by her rack for the last 30+ years after all. The mere fact that Conner, Palmiotti and Gray play up that aspect of the character yet still make her one of the most likable characters in the DC Universe speaks volumes about how much they like and respect the character. All that plus the return of the Justice League Europe cat!

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Power Girl #6

Wrapping up the story from the previous issue as PG deals with the Alien Princess chicanery as well as their caretaker… Carl! PG wraps up the case, even with a sidetrip to Atlantic City for a run-in with the Mob before coming up with a perfect resolution for the 3 runaway brats that, once again, is humorous yetsweet. I fucking love Power Girl and more people need to read it. I don’t want to see it disappear from the racks. The humor is clean and I would feel totally okay giving this book to at least an 8 year-old girl who wants a good female Superhero to look upto. Hell even Room Mate Drew really liked these 3 issues of Power Girl and we agreed that they were the best overall comics in the shipment, thus they got reviewed first!

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Batman & Robin #3

Hey Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly wrap-up their first arc on Batman & Robin and it was pretty freakin’ great. This is the first Morrison story I’ve actually liked since before Batman R.I.P. (I seem to be in the minority in viewing Batman R.I.P. as a total crapfest). Anyway, the NEW Batman and Robin bust up Professor Pyg’s little Crime Circus and uncover a pretty crazy plot to infect Gotham with an airborne virus and somehow it all ties into a protstitution ring. Watch as New Bats does some old style interrogation that would make old Bats proud. These first three issues were pretty great and I look forward to the second arc…

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Batman & Robin #4

Which starts here with yet another incarnation of the Red Hood cropping up, even though he totally isn’t a new version of The Red Hood. He is just the previous Red Hood in a really cheezy new costume. You totally know who it is from the get-go. Red Hood isn’t just putting a stop to crime, his mission is to eliminate it… WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE! (You know the Red Hood means it because I typed it all in caps). Anyway, The Red Hood and his sidekick, Scarlett, bust-up a meeting of the Gotham Crime Bosses. They are already shitting their pants what with Batman back after a long absence. Now they’ve got a Red Hood to deal with, so now they are calling in some hired help from out of town to deal with the problem. Philip Tan takes over for Frank Quitely on art chores for this issue and he brings a differnt vibe than the full on technicolor badassery of the first three issues, which is fine because Batman needs to be in the shadows and that is where Tan puts him as New Bats and New Robin are on stakeout duty.

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Batman & Robin #5

The hired help is a psycho named The Flamingo and… wait… did I just really type that a Batman villain is going to be called the Flamingo? I… I’m so torn about this. I mean they already establish by the end of the issue that Flamingo is a total Joker level nutjob but… c’mon, The Flamingo? That is so a Marvel villain that Spidey fights back in the 70s when he isn’t fighting other lamewads like Rocket Racer or The Kangaroo, (totally a legit Spider-Man villain, I can’t make that shit up)! Still, we get teased with the Flamingo’s handiwork as a lear jet lands in Gotham and all of the crew have had their faces eaten off. So now we’ve got A face eating psycho running around Gotham gunning for The Red Hood and Scarlett. I wonder if Batman & Robin will somehow get involved… I mean it would be nice if Batman & Robin were somehow the focus of their own title… am I asking for too much? Oh well, this thing will wrap-up in issue 6… I hope…

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Blackest Night #3

Thank God my Room Mate actually has a subscription to Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps or else this year’s BIG EVENT from DC would be tricky to follow. For those of you not in the know, Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps are 2 of the best books on the shelves these days and they’ve been building to Blackest Night since both books relaunched almost 5 years ago. We’ve had a few new Lantern Corps introduced to represent the emotional spectrum and all of them have been building toward The Black Lantern Corps making their debut. What better way to fuck with DC fanboys (and Fangirls) than by having all the Black Lanterns be ressurected dead heroes and villains? How about making them flesh eating zombies? How about you have an undead Justice League taking on Firestorm & The Flash?

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Blackest Night #4

Hey great idea let’s make the big bad of this BIG EVENT a Green Lantern villain most people have never heard of… this better have a real good resolution. I had to watch DC kill Hawkman again for this shit. I mean how can you seriously keep screwing over Hawkman? Wasn’t it bad enough in the 90 when no one understood what he was supposed ot be? Fuck Hawkman didn’t even know who he was supposed to be! Now he is a flesh eating zombie serving a third string Green Lantern villain. DC is saying next year’s BIG EVENT will be superman-centric. Great, I look forward to Terra-Man becoming the most powerful villain ever and I don’t mean post-Crisis Terra-Man either!

Well there you have it kids, my comics that came in the mail. Overall, not too bad. The best stuff was actually the Power Girl books, actually not surprising at all given how much fun that book has been since the first issue. While I think The Flamingo is a terrible name for a villain, but I’m interested enough to watch him mutilate the Red Hood (one can dream). Blackest Night has been fun but needs a little more umph to put it over the top. In 2 weeks we get Batman & Robin #6 along with the first issue of Cinderella – From Fabletown With Love starring everyone’s favorite secret agent,… CINDERELLA! Then, I’ll try to jump on the bandwagon with a book everyone swears is the best thing ever with The Increible Hercules #137 followed by a double-shot of Red Sonja with issue #49 of her regular title and issue #1 of Queen Sonja! Finally we get some good old Superman with Superman – Secret Origin 1 & 2 (Note: Batman is my favorute superhero but I do LOVE Superman and I just don’t understand how people can’t love Superman as well).

Wow… I doubt I’ll be able to review everything… unless I want to top the word count for The French: How I Loathe Them. Well, in 2 weeks we’ll see how it all works out right? Shit I can hardly wait! I really do love reading comics!

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