That time once again true believers! A decent number of issues this time around, plus a couple of trades. And as usual, just a bit behind the curve…
Countdown #28, 27: This series has a bit more of a focus since Paul Dini assumed chief writing duties. We get a bit of a tour with Jimmy Olsen going bonkers, the reappearance of the junior reporters, and his recruitment to help track down the killer of the New Gods. Plus a bit of a refresher for the Ray Palmer search team in Universe 8. Back ups on the origins of Trickster, Pied Piper, and Two Face.
Green Lantern Corps #17: The Sinestro War hits Earth. With the Lanterns now having the ability to use lethal force, the tide turns against the Sinestro Corps. The Antimonitor makes a move, and there’s a new Ion in town. The writings of Dave Gibbons on this title, and Geoff Johns on the regular GL title, are producing one of the best story arc seen in any title from any publisher in a long time.
Tales of the Sinestro Corps- Superman-Prime: Another one shot tie in to the Sinestro Corps War. Like the previous one shots, this more about back story recap than it is “new” material. Still, this one does explain a few oddities that have arisen, such as why is Superman/Superboy Prime wearing armor, and who and when and how he was broken out of his red sun jail. While solidly written by Geoff Johns, and with the usual high quality art work, this one is far from a necessity. More casual readers may want to wait for the inevitable TBP of these issues.
Green Arrow-Year One #6: It’s finally over. As much as I like Ollie Queen, this series went on a but too long. What they spent six issues covering, could have been done in 4 or 5, without missing out on anything. While a solid updated retelling of GA’s origin, the series really didn’t add much of anything to the mythos of Green Arrow. If you missed out on the earlier issues, don’t rush out to get them. Wait for the TBP.
Justice League of America #14: Dwayne McDuffie’s run continues as the JLA fall prey to Luthor’s Injustice League. There are some really great moments in this issue, but first time readers may find themselves a bit lost. So far I’m enjoying the ride that McDuffie is taking us on, as it has some refreshing villain moments. If you do get this, make sure you get issue #13, and the JLA Wedding Special as well, so you have the complete begining of the story.
The Flash #233: More fun and games with the Wild West family. I’m not sure where Mark Waid is going with this story. There’s something still that’s not being said, even after an “intervention” by the JLA (with an almost obligatory cheap-shot at Batman). Though I’d prefer to have Barry Allen back as the Flash, I can settle for Wally West, and Mark Waid writing it.
Brave and the Bold #7: Wonder Woman and Power Girl “team up” for this issue. This one is a bit different for a BnB issue, in that it involves a lot of character interaction, as opposed to just plain old action. The Book of Destiny and the Challengers of the Unknown make an appearance, which seems like it will be a regular ongoing aspect of the title. Mark Waid and George Perez have put together an interesting tale, even if it is one many fans won’t like, mostly because of the talkitiveness of the two main characters.
Gotham Underground #1: First issue of a nine issue miniseries. This series has some potential, but this first issue is a bit slow IMO. Covering the struggle for control of Gotham’s mafia families, the series could become a fun and wild ride through the underbelly of Batman’s home town. Bat’s does appear in his Matches Malone cover, but acts more as the marrator/observer of the events in the story. J. Calafiore does some incredible art here, and writer Frank Tieri could make a serious splash if the story realizes its potential.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #2: The Jonah Hex team of Palmiotti and Gray turn their attentions to a C-List super team in this 8 issue miniseries. It’s obvious that they want to make a statement with this issue, in the way they handle Stormy Knight (aka Phantom Lady), and her problems. It’s not a bad job, but too obviously influenced by current events in Hollywood (Lohan, Spears, etc). Had they been just a bit subtler, it could have been a truly atounding issue. Instead it is “merely” very good.
Shadowpact #18: With the team split between the “normal world” and the Shadowlands, each group is beset by problems. Sturges and Derenick put together another fun issue, more so if you like your supers a bit more “off beat.” Some entertaining references to be found in this issue, for those that know what they’re looking at.
Checkmate #19: Waller goes on the offensive, and all sorts of dirty laundry is about to get aired. Greg Rucka does a solid job of scripting a cloak and dagger, covert ops super hero story. This one is building fast to some sort of dramatic conclusion, one which will decide for ever the fate of Checkmate, and who will control it.
Foolkiller #1: A new MAX miniseries from Marvel. This one is not for the kids. Heck, some of this isn’t even for adults. Lan Media does an excellent job on the art, which at times manages to carry the story. But the acripting of Gregg Hurwitz leaves me scratching my head. I found much of this first issue to be terribly inconsistent, ranging from poignant to the gratuitous. Some scenes and references, while sensible in terms of story, became over the top, too excessive for the needs or flow of the story. It all becomes too much for the reader, and not in such a way that you would empathize with the protagonist, but just don’t want to read anymore. Let’s see what happens with issue #2.
Avengers Classic #5: Still a great read, even if it’s from 1964. I should just copy and paste a few phrases from previous reviews I’ve done of this title, as it really doesn’t change much. A back up story from Macon Blair and Jorge Lucas features Cap, Bucky, Thor, Bastogne, and a really big bad wolf.
Wolverine Origins #18: More memories of Logan and Cap in WW2. While I enjoy Daniel Way’s scripts on this, Steve Dillon’s art just doesn’t work right for the story. It gives it all too clean, and cartoony a feel, especially for what are some very serious scripts. *RETCON ALERT* OK, I must take exception to a bit of retcon in this issue. There is one scene where Logan is talking to Sgt. Fury, and gives Fury the “idea of SHIELD.” Codswallop I say! Nick Fury was brought into SHIELD from the CIA after SHIELD was formed, to be its director, as anyone who has read Strange Tales #135 can attest to. Otherwise, it’s solid read.
Moon Knight #13: Marc gets his vigilante’s liscense. Not since the original series has anyone had quite as good a handle on the character of MK as Charlie Huston. Not only does he nail the various psychoses of Marc Spector, but the impact of that on his closest associates. What does distract me though is the art, which I find to be a bit too monochromatic at times, and too black washed at others. I understand the need and want o have “gritty” art to match the story, but this is too much. So much so that it becomes difficult to make out what is supposed to be happening in a given panel.
Captain America #31: Yes I’m still reading this, and no I still haven’t forgiven them for the cowardly assassination of Cap. But what Brubaker is doing with the “side kicks,” Sharon Carter, Falcon, and Bucky is a very entertaining read. And if you ever hear that these stories could only happen with Cap dead, it’s a lie. Steve Epting’s art lends itself well to the subject matter, and enhances the over all story telling. A worth while read still.
The Last Fantastic Four Story: Stan Lee returns to scripting the Fantastic Four. This one shot details the last adventire of the Fantastic Four as a team, at least on Earth. Stan takes his intimate knowledge of the characters, and treats this story as it should be treated. While a bit pricey for a single issue, the quality not only of the story, but of Romita jr’s art, makes it worth while to pick up. In addition, there are several pages of initial script with edits by Tom Brevoort. This was not a smart thing for Brevoort to do IMO. The edits are less than inspiring, and at times seem to almost want to destroy the story. The telling line is “Stan didn’t seem to have any major objections.” Uh-huh, sure. Depends on what you define as “major,” or if he paid any attention at all to what Stan said.
Army>at<Love #8: Still one of the better staire pieces out there. But I think that writer Rock Veitch is starting to wander away from what made the previous issues such great reads. While the story line is political in nature, it’s starting to become political. It’s starying to get caught up in too much of the political shenanigans, and drifting away from the main hustle and flow of the initial story arc. Even so, the scripts in conjunction with Gary Erskine’s art does craft a very entertaining read for adults (and adults only mind you!), that traverses a number of hot topics.
Lone Ranger #9: I have read on some of the message boards that some people find this incarnation of the Lone Ranger to be “too dark.” I don’t. I find it to be more in tune with actual history, and gets away from the stereotypes, all while maintaining the core aspects of the characters. If all you want is Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, you won’t be getting it anytime soon. Along with Jonah Hex and Loveless, this is one of the best Western comics to found.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #21: The end of the Arkanian story arc. Since this series began, I have enjoyed it immensely. More so probably because it takes place so far into the past of Star Wars, a past that has only been sketched out previously. The scripts and the art just scream Star Wars to me, and I eagerly await each new issue.
Star Wars: Dark Times #6: The other SW title I get on a regular basis. Much like KOTOR, this series fills in previously blank gaps. DT covers the period between Episodes III and IV. Instead of focusing on “big names,” even those regular characters in the Dark Horse comics, we get to see relatively unknown characters become the protagonists. Issue 6 starts a new story arc, focusing on a “new” Jedi master on the run. Harrison and Ross create a very compelling story start, giving you enough satisfying action, and a good cliff hanger lead for the next issue.
DMZ #24: Having completed several major story arc revolving around our intrepid reporter Matty, Brian Wood now takes us into the lives of some of the other characters in the Zone. If ifnd this to be a good point at which to switch gears a bit, and give us a bit more insight into the “regular folks” that live in the DMZ that is NYC. One of the best written comics out there, though may not appeal to those who only prefer super heroes.
Conan #45: Kurt Busiek returns to script the story Siege at Venarium. Second only to Roy Thomas when it comes to scripting Conan comics, Kurt Busiek does his usual masterful job with this issue. While not a follow on to the “Rogues in the House” arc, it does fit in with the general themes presented so far. This is a great starting point for new readers, as it begins a new story arc, and provides a background story of Conan.
I also picked up two TBPs as well. First up is Cerebus: Church and State I. Having finally finished reading High Society, I got the next installment. I really had forgotten what great reads the Cerebus books are. Probably because I get more of the jokes now. Still, for what you get, and the quality you getm the $20-25 price tag is worth it.
I also picked up a TBP collection of Green Arrow/Black Canary stories. This collection features a variety of writers, from Denny O’Neill, to Mike Grell, to Kevin Smith, to Alan Moore. Building on the recent wedding arc, this trade is aptly titled “For Better or Worse,” and naturally covers the various trials and tribulations beween GA and BC before Dinah finally said yes to Ollie. For fans who want a quick overview of thier troubled past, or those who missed out on it the first time, this is a worthy pick up. Plus you get a good cross section of major DC writers from the past 30+ years.