Green Arrow #1

This is a big week for DC fans and me, as you get the second of my New 52 reviews! A longtime coworker reader was able to hook me up with a copy of Green Arrow #1 which introduces us to the revamped emerald archer.

Where the classic Oliver Quinn represented the mid school super heroes (with someone, say Wildcat or Alan Scott being old school, and Kyle Rayner and Wally West being new school), the new version is much younger. Gone is his Robin Hood look, and replaced with a more modern super hero film inspired look.

Oliver is the young CEO of Quinn Industries, and he’s much more interested in his top secret Q-Core division which he uses to fund his super hero exploits, much like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne do. He is aided by two of his Q-Core developers Naomi and Jax, who respectively serve him in a Barbara Gordon/Oracle information gathering and Microchip (Punisher’s weapon maker) capacity. Quinn is also now based in Seattle, as it seems that his previous home in Star City seems to not have translated itself in the new status quo.

This first issue was a lot of introduction and exposition, like how he’s more concerned about his vigilante project instead of his company and setting up its first story arc with him fighting a gang of super villains who look straight out of an early 1990s image comic. The art on the book is can’t miss, with Dan Jurgens on the pencils and George Perez on the inks. To me, it seemed like a weird team up. I think they should have gone with a more traditional Jurgens inker, like Brett Breeding or Josef Rubinstein.

Script wise, JT Krul’s story is just kind of average. It’s certainly not as intense as the last book of his I read, which is a good thing. But it felt like it was just trudging along. This reminded me a lot of the 1980s Blue Beetle series, which was about a rich guy blowing off his corporate responsibilities to play hero. It should be interesting to see what direction this book takes after issue #3, as Krul is leaving the title.

As a Ollie fan since he returned in the early 2000s, I do miss his extended family of characters, like Black Canary, Arsenal, his son Connor and even Mia. But in this new incarnation they’re completely missing. Naomi and Jax have some big shoes to fill in being his supporting cast.

So will be getting the next issue? Definitely. As we all know, I’m a super Dan Jurgens fan, so that’s enough of a reason for me to continue. And I do like the re-imagined Green Arrow, so this will be added to my pull list.

Now if some one could finally get me that copy of Hawk and Dove

Justice League International #1

I finally found it! Justice League International #1 was found at a Barnes and Noble in Holyoke, Massachusetts on the way back from my friend Margot of White Hot Oven fame’s awesome wedding. So Sunday was a double treat for me–I went to a great wedding and got a chance to pick up the relaunch of one of my favorite comic book concepts. So how did Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti do?

The new JLI is founded by the United Nations to be their own multi-national super hero team. It seems that in the New DC, people are much more skeptical of super powered types like in the Marvel Universe. Lead by the popularity seeking Booster Gold, the new JLI is made up of some of the usual suspects like Guy Gardner (who resents taking orders from Booster), Fire and Ice, and the current Rocket Red. The new additions are Vixen (a perpetually underused character in the DC pantheon), Godiva (a forgotten super heroine with magic hair who flirts with Booster continually) and August General in Iron, a Chinese super hero from the Great Ten.

The book is a lot of exposition, as to why the heroes were picked for the team and how they interact. Batman, well because he’s Batman, has to be part of the team. He joins up independently, as the UN doesn’t want him in due to his secret identity. The book ends with the team setting off on their first mission.

Lopresti’s art is fine, and Jurgens does a good job of getting across all the different personalities. I like that he’s writing Booster to be a stronger character/leader type, as he did in Booster’s recently ended solo book. Overall, I would give this a B+, as it was very good and definitely peaked my interest for the next issue.

Soldier Zero: Volume 1

A while back we talked about what a modern-day Jack Kirby without Stan Lee project, so lets talk today about a Stan Lee without Jack Kirby project. We’re talking about BOOM! Studio’s Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero: Volume 1, which packages the first story arch.

Lee’s involvement in this book seems to me mostly in the concept stage, with Dr. Who scribe Paul Cornell and artists Javier Pina and Sergio Arino rounding out the character. Soldier Zero is a combination of Knight Rider, the Guyver and Venom. Our hero is Stu Trautmann, a war hero who lost the use of his legs after a landmine explosion in Afghanistan. Stu is adjusting to both being in a wheelchair and civilian life when he unwillingly is bonded to the alien symbiotic/parasitic armor entity known as Soldier Zero.

Soldier needs Stu’s help in stopping Soldier One, another similar armor symbiote who has gone rogue. Stu has to begrudgingly agree to this, as Soldier One has already gone after his family due to his association with Soldier Zero. Things get only more complicated, as it seems there is a bigger intergalactic conspiracy at hand.

So how was this?

It was a decent read, and it really came across like a pitch for a new character. Everything made sense and it was a light read, but it wasn’t necessarily the most compelling story. I will say that it definitely peaked my interest to read the second volume once it comes out. It reads much better as a collection than as single issues. Had I waited monthly for each installment, I probably  would have given up on it. The art is fine, and Cornell should get a lot of credit for flushing out the character and making it work in a modern world. 

Like any comic book that wants to get attention, the issues of Soldier Zero got the multiple cover treatment. The end of the book features a nifty little gallery of all the variant covers from the series. The one on the left, which was an exclusive to New York City’s Midtown Comics was my favorite. I love the way it’s so retro looking.

But wait…doesn’t this remind you of something else? Does it remind you of something very familiar from Lee’s storied past, maybe something … silver?

If that cover reminded you of Silver Surfer #1, which graced comic book spinners everywhere in September 1968, you win a prize. This cover was done by comic artist extraordinaire John Buscema and is one of the most iconic images of the character.

To me, this was really appropriate to pay tribute, as this series featured some of Lee’s best written work. Getting back to Soldier Zero, it was a decent read that’s worth picking up if you can find it cheap or  at your library. You could do a lot worse…

Solo Avengers #5

Solo Avengers was an on-going anthology series featuring everyone’s favorite purple and blue archer Hawkeye. The fifth issue had him face his former mentor Trickshot in a battle to the death on an uninhabited island.

Now your probably saying that’s great, but who the heck is Trickshot? Long story short of it, Hawkeye grew up as an orphan in a travelling  circus, and Trickshot took him under his wing.

He trained our hero to be an archery performer, but his love of armed robbery split up this partnership. This story is basically a fight between master and apprentice. So who walks away the winner?

No one technically.

Trickshot is defeated by Hawkeye, who learns that his former mentor is suffering from terminal cancer and this whole thing has been an elaborate way for have an elaborate death at the hands of Hawkeye, who wants nothing to do with this.

Instead Hawkeye forgives Trickshot–who has tried to kill him and his brother over the years–and agrees to help him find and pay for medical help. What a nice guy.

Voltron Goes Dynamite!

Everything’s coming up Milhouse Voltron!

Fans of the 1980s cartoon and toy line are in luck. There is a new cartoon series on Nickelodeon and Mattel has an exclusive line of new action figures and vehicles. Dynamite Entertainment has thrown its cat into the ring with a new comic book series coming out this December.

The new series is written by Brandon Thomas and features comics by Alex Ross, who makes everything look pretty. I wonder how much involvement Ross is going to have on this project.

I would like to see him have some sort of creative advisory, like he did on Top Cow’s Battle of the Planets comics in the early 2000. They should propably even go as far as to have a Voltron/Gatchaman crossover, since thematically and stylistically the two are so close. The teams all have the same archetypes: the leader, the rogue, the chunky jock, the skinny nerd and the princess…both teams literally have a member named Princess!

Make it so, Alex Ross. Make it so.

Batman: Year One Animated Coming Out Soon

What’s better than reading Frank Miller and David Mazzuccheli’s reinvention of an early Batman in Batman: Year One?  Watching it!

This straight-to-video adaptation of 1987′s epic tale shares the first encounters of Batman, Comissioner Gordon and Catwoman. You can bring it home on October 18.

A Blast From The Past: Tron Light Cycle

Tron Light Cycle

I stumbled across this vintage Tron Light Cycle in my basement a few weekends back and how cool is it! This was part of the Tron toyline that Tomy produced back in 1982, pretty much around the same scale of the Star Wars and GI Joe action figures from that time period.

Tron Light Cycle 

In the Tron movies, the light cycles were not only a mode of transportation but for combat games on the grid. As you can imagine, this is a speedy form of transportation and this toy reflects that. It has a pull back rip cord that launches it pretty far. Tron Light Cycle

I picked this up at a church rummage sale back in high school, about 15 years after this toy was sold to its original owner. It’s missing an action figure (it comfortably sits one) and the rip cord, but it looks awesome on my toy shelf.

I really wished that they had made some of the original characters in the Tron: Legacy toy line that was out last year. The new action figures are the right size and detail level to look awesome piloting this light cycle.

So who had the red/orange light cycle in the orginal movie?

That would be Ram, one of the programs that was allied with Clu and Tron in the original movie who was derezzed (killed). Ram’s programmer Roy Kleinberg is still alive in the Tron real-world universe, and was behind the “Flynn Lives” hoopla early in Tron Legacy.

 

New Mutants Annual #2–Why Do We Do These Things We Do?

It’s kind of easy to see how Cypher wound up on the short end of the stick in New Mutants.

Everyone else has some sort of cool power, but he gets saddle with the mutant ability to speak and communicate in any language. Like that’s going to help pick up chicks.

New Mutants Annual #2 is Cypher’s time to shine. This annual is a fun story by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis which has some historical significance, as it’s the first appearance of telepath-turned-martial arts expert Psylocke in the Marvel Universe. Technically, she had been around for a while in the Marvel UK Captain Britain comics but this was her proper introduction.

So how does Cypher–along with his best friend, the technarcic Warlock wind up saving the day? The plot was a little confusing, so bare with me.

In short, Mojo has kidnapped Psylocke in order to use here telepathic abilities in an effort to take over the planet. After failing to rescue his sister, Captain Britain is de-aged. The New Mutants are incapacitated. It’s up to Cypher to free Pyslocke.

Claremont does a good job of making the character likable as he grows in confidence through the story. The friendship between Cypher and Warlock is very natural, so its only appropriate that the two literally merge to stop Mojo.

There was a bit of an odd plotline towards the end of the story, with Psylocke being awkwardly flirty towards her teenaged savior.

See, it’s not so bad to be Cypher

Green Lantern: Brightest Day

Green Lantern! Other Lanterns! Oh my.

Green Lantern: Brightest Day–with story by Geoff Johns and art by Doug Mahnke–kind of sets the status quo for ringwielding super heroes after the Blackest Knight debachle. The heads of the six families lantern groups team up for a few adventures, mostly them putting a stop to the rogue cosmic entities that power their appropriate emotional spectrum power.

That said, I enjoyed the characters and their concepts more than the story itself. It read like a video game, with repetitive challenges and plot elements. But the characters themselves are interesting. I like Larfleeze, the super greedy Orange Lantern and his obsession with material objects. And Atrocitus was pretty bad ass as the rage guy.

For me, there were really two interesting parts of this collection. Everyone’s favorite space biker/bounty hunter Lobo pays a visit, trying to collect on Atrocitus. Little did the other lanterns who came to Atrocitus’ aid know that this was a scheme to make them like him more (just like playground politics). The one interesting plotline that’s propably never going to return is that Lobo gets a Red Lantern ring.

But the most memorable story was the origin of the Red Lantern cat Dex-Starr whose story of rage is due to the kitty not being able to stop the murder of his owner. Frown. Poor little guy.

So should you read this?

I would say its passable. Althoguh Mahnke’s art is stellar, this book just kind of plodded along and really didn’t do anything for me, save for some Lobo and cat relatd hijinx.

Jack Kirby’s Galactic Bounty Hunters

With trades and hardcovers being all the range, and now everything being released in a digital format, there’s no lack of Jack Kirby material to read. So should you give Jack Kirby’s Galactic Bounty Hunters a shot?

The first question you might be asking is what is it? Galactic Bounty Hunters was a miniseries put out by Marvel’s creator-owned imprint Icon in 2006. Makes sense.

So how did the world get a Jack Kirby comic nearly twelve years after his death?

Galactic Bounty Hunters is a completion of one of Jack’s projects that was never finished. His daughter, Lisa, along with Steve Robertson, Mike Thibodeaux and Richard French were able to flesh out the concept and this book is the result.

This is a pretty straight-forward story, about science fiction writer Jack Berkley, whose books chronicle his secret real-life adventures as a space exploring bounty hunter. His life is pretty tame until his son Garrett finds out about his secret past. It’s up to Jack to team up with his old Galactic Bounty Hunter pals, as they go on a cosmic adventure to save his son.

Lisa and Steve are the primary writers of this, adapting the concept and story to comic form. Thibodeaux (a long time Kirby collaborator) handles the art which does a great job mimicing Kirby’s style.

Super fans will also be happy, as Kirby’s Captain Victory and his Galactic Rangers also make an appearance during the minisereis.

This was a fun read; very light in tone. It’s certainly not groundbreaking material by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m glad I picked it up. Galactic Bounty Hunters would definitely make a great concept for a kid’s cartoon or video game series. Hint hint.

Wonder Woman: Amazon. Hero. Icon.

 

I love coffee table books. And you all know I love comics. That said, I was happy to look at Bob Greenberger’s Wonder Woman: Amazon. Hero. Icon.

The book takes a widescreen look at arguably the most important female super hero in the history of comics.

The book is filled with large prints of Wonder Woman artwork and comics pages, both of which are the hallmark of a good coffee table book. But if you’re looking to find out why Wonder Woman is so important, this book doesn’t necessarily share that.

Don’t get me wrong. Greenberger’s research on the topic is well done. The early chapters which chronicle the life of William Moulton Marston are fascinating and worth a read for them alone. The problem with this book is the subject itself; Wonder Woman just isn’t that interesting.

And it really pains me to say that. I mean, I did enjoy reading it and learned some new things. The art was beautiful. But what it made me realize that Wonder Woman hasn’t really had that many poignant or memorable stories over the years. She just kind of happens to be along for the ride in the DC Universe. It’s a shame that such an important and strong character has been perpetually the second–and usually third–fiddle.

Before you all pull the “well you just don’t like lady super hero card” let me remind you that this is someone who has an extensive collection of Dazzler, Spider-Woman and Power Girl comics. Don’t go there. You won’t win.

It left me with the feeling that the most important thing about Wonder Woman isn’t so much the character itself but what it symbolizes: strong, independent women everywhere. It just annoys me that there isn’t this great legacy of strong material, which should be fitting for such a good character.

If there is, please let me know what I’ve been missing out on.

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard

“If this is like Lord of the Rings or Dungeons & Dragons, I’ll be really mad.”

And that was my girlfriend’s warning upon her introduction to the world of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard.

Petersen’s epic stories are about the Mouse Guard take the animal colony concepts of Watership Down one step further. The mice have a civilization in the woodlands of the middle ages, much like those seen in the David the Gnome cartoons and books, where they interact with each other and warring species. Mouse Guard books are more like medieval knight fiction that happens to be with mice as the lead characters than a cartoon like Disney’s Robin Hood, which features anthropomorphic characters.

The goal of the Mouse Guard is simple. Here’s a brief intro borrowed from Wiki, that in turn borrowed it from some of the books’ inside covers and promotional materials.

The mice struggle to live safely and prosper among all of the world’s harsh conditions and predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed. After persevering against a weasel warlord in the winter war of 1149, the territories are no longer as troubled. True, the day to day dangers exist, but no longer are the Guard soldiers, instead they are escorts, pathfinders, weather watchers, scouts and body guards for the mice who live among the territories. Many skills are necessary for the guard to keep the borders safe. They must find new safeways and paths from village to village, lead shipments of goods from one town to another and, in case of attack, guard against all evil and harm to their territories.

 

They are not simply soldiers that fight off intruders; rather, they are guides for the common mice looking to journey without confrontation from one hidden mouse village to another. The Guard patrols borders, finds safeways and paths through dangerous territories and treacherous terrain, watches weather patterns, and keeps the mouse territories free of predators. They do so with fearless dedication so that they might not just exist, but truly live.

Legends of the Guard is a great introduction to this world, as it’s an anthology. Tales of the Guard features a frame story of Petersen of a bunch of mice sitting in a local tavern and sharing their favorite stories of the Guard. Each tale is drawn by a different cartoonist ranging from Gene Ha to Love and Rockets mastermind Terry Moore.

My favorite was by Katie Cook of Fraggle Rock fame, where the protagonist mouse has to comes terms with spending a lifetime of thinking that he was actually a fox. Katie does a great job with her story, the art is ridiculously cute and was the highlight of the collected version.

So at the end of the book, Legends of Guard is both me and girlfriend approved. You should check it out.

U.S.Agent

U.S.Agent

Remember the 1990s when we had a new Batman, new Green Lantern, new Spider-Man and even a gaggle of new Supermen? The character now known as U.S.Agent was a replacement Captain America back in 1986, and eventually wound up carving his own identity once Steve Rogers took the job backU.S.Agent.

So when they released a figure of U.S.Agent as part of the recent Captain America line of action figures, I was pretty excited to get a chance to add him to the collection. It also gets me one step closer to having a set of the West Coast Avengers.

His costume is awesome, as it is a darker version of the American flag. The accessories are pretty cool. U.S.Agent comes with his most recent shield and a Uzi. After all, he’s a much tougher (and more violent) version of Cap. For picture and display sake, I swapped it out for one of the M-16 assault rifles that are so prevalent with GI Joe figures.

U.S.Agent is a brute of a guy, so I imagine him being one of my most combat-ready toys. I could really see him being air-dropped over an AIM or Hydra base, with two machine guns, a lot of ammo and maybe a Monster energy drink,.

Why I Passed on Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1


 

I stopped by the local comic book store on Wednesday to see if there was a new issue of Namor out this week, which there wasn’t. The store was pretty busy with lots of people excited about Flashpoint and the new Justice League book, both of which I was planning on passing on.

When I went to the counter to make my purchase (an issue of Booster Gold I had skipped), the dude behind the counter seemed to be a little freaked out that I wasn’t interested in the hullabaloo of the new DC.

“Well it’s written by Geoff Johns!”

“I’m not that big of a fan of his.”

He looked at me like I was an alien.

“But everything starts from here!”

“Eh…I think I’ll wait.”

He gave up and finished the transaction. So why don’t I seem to care?

I don’t know. The whole things just turns me off for some reason. I’m a big fan of not changing things for the sakes of changing things. And with a lot of what I read online about it makes me hesitant to jump on board.

Mike Sterling had this to say on Justice League, which didn’t make it sound so hot.:

About the Justice League itself…well, yeah, as our intro to this new DC Universe continuity, it’s a little underwhelming. Superheroes meet, they fight, we get teased with the threat of Darkseid, oh hey there’s Superman, and suddenly “to be continued.” All very by-the-numbers, with nothing to intrigue or inspire the imagination. I mean, it looks okay, with Jim Lee turning in a respectable art job on this issue, even if Superman’s new costume continues to appear unnecessarily rejiggered. And I’m calling “no way” on Batman being able to yank Green Lantern’s ring off his hand without GL noticing. I mean, come on!

Comics Alliance’s Chris Sims is a bit more scathing in his review:

Ha! No, but the short version is that this comic is just flat-out not very good. And the thing is, it should be. A comic book with this much riding on it, this much promotion, the two creators who are meant to be the top guys in the industry working with the genuinely exciting premise of doing a bold new unshackled story of some of the greatest fictional characters ever? There’s no reason it shouldn’t be amazing. And yet, what we have here is, as Curt Franklin put it, a comic that reads like it came with an action figure. It’s not that there aren’t good parts to it, but it’s a C- book at best, and as an introduction to the New DC Universe, that doesn’t cut it.

So will I read this? probably at some point. I do like Jim Lee’s artwork a lot, so that is enough for me to want to look at Justice League. And Flashpoint will have some sort of historic impact, and it might be interesting to look at it and see if it holds up. But these aren’t books that I’m outwardly seeking. These are more of a borrow from the library kind of thing then an add to the collection.

So am I mad at DC? No, not at all. It’s a smart business move. They’re doing an all-in wager on building/rebuilding their audience which is totally respectable. While I might not believe that a whole creative shift was the way to go, I do think them jumping head first into digital distribution is the way to go to advance the medium.

The big test if this brand new vision for DC for me personally comes next week. How convenient is it that the three titles that I’m looking forward to all come out at the same time? Hawk and Dove is mostly for my love of Rob Liefeld books. Justice League International gets a buy the characters in it.

Green Arrow is a more bittersweet purchase for me. I’ve really taken a liking to the character since he came back in the Kevin Smith and Phil Hester series in the early 2000s. His supporting characters are just so dynamic, with Black Canary as his life partner/companion, Arsenal and Connor as the sons he should have spent more time with, and Mia being his redemption. The book is also drawn by Dan Jurgens, who really is one of my favorite–and underrated–artists in comics. Both of these are reasons to get excited. But for now, I’m not sure if this is the Green Arrow for me. It’s kind of like if you’re a big fan of Nightcrawler, but there is so much that is different about the Ultimate version that it does nothing for you.

So who knows how this is all going to pan out. I’ll worry about that later.

DIY Deadpool (and 101 Dalmatians) Birthday Party

101 Dalmatians and Deadpool CakeSo yesterday was my brother’s birthday. There are two things in the world that he is very passionate about–Deadpool and 101 Dalmatians. So how do you combine the two into a themed birthday party?

Well it can be a little tricky, since there isn’t any 101 Dalmatians party supplies to be found. And forget Deadpool.

So with a little bit of work and some use of Google, I came up with a plan. This plan would make Martha Stewart cringe, but I’m no Martha Stewart.

So what to do? I followed the advice of all-around awesome person Amy Sedaris, author of Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.  I did it myself.Step 1: Make A Card

I went back and forth on whether I would theme everything with the puppies or Deadpool, but wound up going with the mercenary with the mouth. First part was to make a birthday card. I remembered that the cover of Deadpool #23 had him jumping out of a cake, so that would be the cover. A high quality print on glossy cardstock makes the perfect card!
Step 2: Personalize the Card

But we need to personalize it a little more on the inside. Write a message that is appropriate with the image on the cover. Party animal? Deadpool jumping out of a cake? Works for me. Also, add a little sketch or doodle or something to personalize it; definitely a fun little way to liven it up.

Step 4.5: The Gifts

For you nosy-nellies, little brother got some old-time X-Men and 101 Dalmatians comics, as well as the Marvel Legends Deadpool action figure. All of which were purchased at the Baltimore Comic-Con the other weekend.

Step 3: Make Wrapping PaperNow to make some wrapping paper. I found some pics of good ol’ deadpool with a white background. They were pasted into a blank Microsoft Publisher document and resized/arranged. Print out a whole bunch of these to wrap everything.

I chose to not fully print the paper to save some money. But wait a minute, you say. Can you see through the paper? Well the answer is yes. And that’s where some ingenuity came in handy.

Step 4: Pre WrappingI prewrapped everything in a sheet of newspaper. That was just enough to make sure you couldn’t see what was inside. You could probably use tissue paper too, but again my concern was to do this as inexpensive and quick as possible.

Step 5: Post Wrapping

See how awesome that looks? You can’t even see what’s inside.

DSC_0018

And voila, the final project! Happy Deadpool Birthday!

101 Dalmatians and Deadpool Cake

Now for the cake, which is always important. It was a triple-layer cake vanilla cake, wich chocolate frosting in the inside and vanilla on the outside. Decorations come from a Marvel Universe Deadpool action figure and a Christmas ornament with Lucky and Rolly watching their favorite television show, Thunderbolt.

Eat your heart out Cake Boss.