Thanks to my friendly local public library, I’ve been on a bit of a New 52 kick. Scott Snyder’s Batman: Death Of The Family is a suspenseful collection that pits the Dark Knight against his most sadistic foe–the Joker.
The story is simple; the Joker has returned to Gotham City and is recreating some of his
greatest most horrific encounters with Batman. Not only that, but he’s attempting to kill of Batman’s allies. Batman kind of expects that he would go after Batgirl, Red Hood and even Red Robin. But things get taken to another level when the Joker sets his sights on Bruce Wayne’s long-suffering butler Alfred. It’s up to Batman to stop the Joker and save his extended Batfamily.
The conclusion of the story isn’t the most satisfying. One of the plot points is that the Joker has somehow figured out the connection between Batman and Bruce Wayne, to the extent that he knew that a way to get to Batman would be by attacking Alfred and how to access the Batcave (which is presumably still connected to Wayne Manor). This was explained in a flashback at the story with Batman as Bruce Wayne confronting the Joker at the Arkham Asylum over a Joker card that was mysteriously found in the Batcave. That in turn gives away everyone else’s identity. But at the end of the story, it was pretty much stated that the Joker didn’t know any of this information. That part I’m still not clear on.
The other interesting reveal was that Batman does indeed know who the Joker was before be became a sociopath. They didn’t reveal it but I would assume that it would mean that he is connected to some of the more prominent characters in the Bat universe.
Death Of The Family did get my attention and I did enjoy it. I really wish that the big reveals at the end were more concrete and not just spring boards for future stories. If you have any thoughts, please comment because I’m still trying to put it all together.
I know it’s been a while; I’ve been spending more time reading comics than blogging about them. Well, that and being increasingly busy in my professional life. So here’s a quick one so I can get back on track.
Teen Titans #0 gives us the backstory of the New 52-ized Tim Drake. Previously Tim was the son of two Bruce Wayne-level wealthy parents, and over the years he had several encounters with both Bruce and Dick Grayson. He eventually figures out their secret identities, and after the death of his mother and crippling of his father Tim becomes the third Robin to avenge his family’s losses.
Writer Scott Lobdell takes the origin in a different direction. He’s a superstar high school gymnast and general smartypants who tries to figure out–unsuccessfully–who the Batman is. To get the Dark Knight’s attention, he hacks the Penguin’s bank account.
That was a surefire way to get everyone attention, with Batman having to save them. As a result, his parents have been put into the witness protection program and have been relocated somewhere in the country and he now has to take the identity of Tim Drake, an adopted ward of Bruce Wayne. At that point Bruce finally reveals that he’s Batman and Tim dons the roll of Red Robin.
The one theme that is hammered into this issue was the relationship between Tim and his parents. They were immensely proud of him and everything that he had been able to accomplish. However, he wound up giving that all away in his quest to unmask Batman. Not only is he isn’t living with them and with extremely limited contact, but they will never know about his true greatest accomplishment: being a super hero.
It’s interesting all around and I’m sure Lobdell is planning on revisiting his parents at some point.
This September comic book fans are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the X-Men. Since their September 1963 debut, the group of mutant super heroes (and their on again, off again villains) have been involved in some of the best and most memorable stories that Marvel has published.
It’s amazing that the franchise, which has spun off countless movies, video games, cartoons, toys and other merchandise was almost cancelled due to low sales in 1970. Fortunately, the Cockrum/Byrne/Claremont era began around 1975 and the series has been a mainstay since.
So why have the X-Men lasted so long and have been so successful?
The main theme has been about the desire of proving that no matter how different you are, you can be a productive member of society. At one point, everyone has felt insecure about their place in the world, and how they have to work harder to prove to everyone that they belong.
The other theme is about inclusion and diversity. That doesn’t need to be explained. Just look at the all-time roster of the X-Men, having come from different races and cultures, some from different planets. And those are just the differences on the surface. But the point is that we are all
mutants people, and everyone deserves to be treated equally.
So to celebrate this, I’m going to be blogging the fifty greatest X characters. This should be fun and I can’t wait to see your responses.
I’ve enjoyed the Criminal series by writer Ed Brubaker with artist Sean Phillips, so I assumed I would like the duo’s Fatale.
The two books are alike, in a sense that they’re both very well written and illustrated noir pieces. However, Fatale goes a little darker into the supernatural direction and loses me along the way.
Nicolas Lash has uncovered a “lost” manuscript written by his recently deceased godfather. His discovery of this has put him at odds with several gruesome occult types and in contact with a would be protector named Jo. The mysterious woman said that her grandmother Josephine had been with his godfather who experienced a similar supernatural problem fifty years prior.
Fatale goes back and forth from the past and present, and at times it gets a little difficult telling what timeline you are reading. It becomes clear by the end of the book that Jo and Josephine are the same person, and I’m sure that becomes a plot point for later issues.
Fatale is a dark fantasy, but it really doesn’t resonate with me. I don’t think I will be continuing with this.
This cover is a bit of a swerve; Deadpool doesn’t attack the Punisher at any point in Thunderbolts #8.
While the main team is on various stake out missions against Middle Eastern terrorists and weapons dealers trying to get a lead on the gamma powered weaponry, writer Daniel Way is still building up the tension among the team’s members, specifically as a result of the Punisher/Elektra/Deadpool love triangle. I also love the way that the Leader is portrayed as being somewhat incompetent and not realizing the full potential of what he can or cannot do.
There is a lot of foreshadowing going on, as Orestez Natchios is giving an author lecture about his newest book on terrorism. I’m sure as the story unfolds he is going to have something to do with the gamma Crimson Dynamos from the last issue.
Thunderbolts #7 starts out a bit different from the previous issues, with Phil Noto taking over from Steve Dillon on the penciling duties. Daniel Way has the team dealing with the fallout from their first mission while travelling in a submarine.
There is growing tension on the submarine, as Punisher and Elektra’s somewhat secret relationship has come to life, and Deadpool is quite the jealous merc with a mouth.
The issue ends with all of the Thunderbolts attempting to overthrow the Red Hulk, as they’re still not exactly sure of what’s going on.
Because he’s, you know, gamma powered and everything, Red Hulk quickly dispatches the attempted coup. He finally starts to explain more of their mission and how he has assembled this group to stop enemies of the state that have acquired gamma weaponry. There was a large gamma weapon that was taken during the first story arc and they have to stop it from falling into the wrong hands.
The last pages of the story pretty much reveal that; whoever got a hold of the gamma weapon has used it to put together a battalion of gamma-powered Crimson Dynamo battle armored soldiers.
I’m liking where this is heading and by this point you can see that Way is hitting his stride. Phil Noto’s art is pretty sweet as well. I still don’t get why everyone is so harsh on this series.
I know I’ve been kind of harsh on some of the New 52 stuff that DC has been putting out, but I was pleasantly surprised after I read Batman/Superman #1-2. But then again, anything that combines Jae Lee’s art with a Greg Pak script will be great.
This series starts out with the two meeting for the first time, shortly after Clark Kent is investigating Bruce Wayne for an article he is writing. After a costumed encounter, they realize each other’s extracurricular activities and there is a lot of fun super hero battling. This newly found friendship/alliance has them take on the mysterious shape-shifting Trickster and eventually sends them to Earth 2 where they encounter alternate versions of themselves!
It is a bit of a complicated read, with all the shape-shifting and multiple versions of the same characters, but it’s definitely worth sticking with. Pak is a great writer and I’m sure it will all make sense at the end. And for Lee’s art, it’s just awesome.
So I give this a thumbs up. It was a pleasant surprise that I wasn’t necessarily planning to check out.
Now this was awesome. Red She-Hulk: Hell Hath No Fury was something that felt completely fresh in its concept. Betty Ross (who can change at will into the Red She-Hulk) in a situation like The Fugitive; she has to shut down a top-secret military super soldier program called Echelon.
Since this is technically an attack on the United States, the Avengers have been sent to stop her. They don’t know that Betty has been informed by Nikola Tesla via an ancient computer called the Terranometer is that Echelon will eventually bring about the end of humanity. I know that doesn’t make sense, but if you have been reading Jonathan Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D. it would.
She is in pursuit by Machine Man, who winds up joining her after he connects to the Terranometer and learns of this future. Somehow there is a mute girl named Eleanor who is tied to this. Jeff Parker adds a lot of suspense to the story by having the two fighting to escape S.H.I.E.L.D. The book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, with Jennifer Banner–the original She-Hulk–seemingly getting involved with Echelon’s plan.
I liked Red She-Hulk a lot. Parker put together a really fast paced story, everything ties together and looks to be building to a huge pay off. Carlo Pagulayan’s art is stellar, but there were a few errors in the coloring/after effects that were left in, like notes to the colorists and what not. Normally that could bother someone, but the story and art are so strong that it makes you ignore them. This is good stuff and I want to read more.
It’s no secret that I’m a super fan of Louise Simonson’s work, so getting the X-Factor Forever collection was a must buy for me. The book resolves plot-lines that she had set up nearly twenty years ago!
The first part of the story pretty much reestablished the dynamics of the characters. Cyclops (and his son Nathan, who, you know grows up to be Cable) are adjusting to life with a newly returned from the grave Jean Grey, and the rest of the team is enjoying themselves.
At first, it seems like the kidnapping of young Nathan by Caliban and Mister Sinister is the worst that will happen. But instead, X-Factor finds itself in an uneasy alliance with Apocalypse to find the child, for he is the proof that the cosmic Celestials need to deem mutant-kind a worthy species.
The resulting story has to be the best written Apocalypse I’ve ever encountered. Through the main narrative (and a back-up feature that chronicles his life) we learn that he has been subtly influencing the direction of mankind into evolving, ensuring its survival among the planet’s other species, the Deviants and Eternals. Apocalypse had appointed Mister Sinister to be his apprentice who unfortunately has his ideas on how humans and mutants should evolve. It’s a race against time and whoever has Nathan will control the outcome of the Celestial’s judgement.
Again, the writing on this is amazing. Louise is able to conjure the feelings of Jack Kirby style cosmic drama with Grant Morrison-like sensibilities, all the while not sacrificing her own style. I highly recommend this. And if you pick up the collected version, it includes X-Factor #63-64, which concluded her run on the original series. Get this…you won’t be disappointed.
What’s the best part of birthdays? Birthday presents! One of my coworkers gave me the recent Uncanny Avengers #9 which comes at a perfect time, since I just got through the first collected volume of the series.
The series is still following the same main plot points from before. The Apocalypse Twins are now shown as adults who seem to have some sort of plan to destroy everything, and it’s up to this group of Avengers to save everything.
To make matters more confusing, it turns out that a lot of these current problems are the result of Kang the Conqueror and Immortus’ influence on the time streams. I know they are the same person, but the fact that both of them have independently messed things up has to count for something.
There’s also a lot of division on the team, between the mutants that make up the group and Thor being on one side, and the traditional Avengers on the other. There’s a lot of yelling when it’s revealed that Wolverine lead the covert mission to kill the young child Apocalypse.
The book ends with the Apocalypse Twins revealing their new Four Horsemen: Banshee, Daken, Grim Reaper and Sentry. Things can’t be going to well for the Uncanny Avengers.
Rick Remender does a great job carrying plot points from not only earlier in this series, but going back to his work on Uncanny X-Force. And on the visual side of things, David Acuna is great in how he creates a very unique take on these classic characters.
I’m continuing my fun look back at the old Silver Surfer series. The second issue not only helps set the main themes for the series, but it also introduces a new villain to the Marvel Universe that will play a big roll in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film next year.
The Badoon–a reptilian alien species–has targeted Earth as its net conquest. After a brief encounter with the Silver Surfer, they explain that they have come in peace and are only interested in ending all evil. Surfer can kind of agree with that, as during his brief time on the planet he has grown greatly disenfranchised on how mankind treats one another.
This opinion on the Badoon is changed when an imprisoned Earth woman shares their true intent: enslaving the planet. This doesn’t jive well at all with the Silver Surfer, and the rest of the issue has him fighting off the Badoon spacecraft and monsters that are attacking Manhattan. Eventually they give up on their conquest, only to return in the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Silver Surfer may have gotten rid of the Badoon, but his reputation took the worst of it. The aliens were using some sort of cloaking technology straight out of Star Trek that made them invisible to the world, making it look like it was the Silver Surfer attacking the city on his own.
Stan Lee does such a great job writing the character. He’s an outsider, cursed to live among a world that completely fears and distrusts him. Even when he does the right thing (in this case dealing with the Badoon) it only winds up hurting him in the end. That is combined with the fact that Surfer continually brings up the fact of how hypocritical human nature is. Oh yeah, and that John Buscema who drew this is pretty sweet too.
I‘ve always been a fan of the tick. I was instantly hooked on the character by the super cool cartoon series on Fox and wound up spending a lot of time during my middle and high school years tracking down whatever I could find. Remember…this was the mid to late 1990s and the internet was still in its infancy.
So this year’s Free Comic Book Day offering was definitely a treat for me. It featured new stories written by Jeff McClelland. He certainly knows how to put together in the spirit of the original Ben Edlund material. The main feature involves the Tick, his longtime (and long suffering sidekick) Arthur on vacation with several other super heroes. The relaxation comes to a stop when lobster people from the ocean floor start invading the surface. It’s up to an extremely sun-burnt and lobster-looking Arthur to stop the invasion. The other features involve the duo on a deserted island and the Tick attempting to learn about the internet.
This was a great treat for me; it reminded me how fun the character is. There is just something charming about the Tick. He pretty much should be one of the most annoying…if not the annoying characters in comics. But his simpleness just makes him so entertaining. He’s like if Tigger and Sheldon Cooper were merged into a muscle bound blue hero.
I’ll give this a thumbs up. If McClelland is in charge of the character these days, he get’s a double thumbs and a “SPPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!!” battle cry. He gets what a Tick story is supposed to be and I can’t wait to see more material from him.
I really like the art of Michael Turner and read a lot of his work and the rest of the Aspen Studios crew during the early 2000s. Part of it was because Turner and the rest of his crew were just so friendly and great to talk with at comic book conventions.
When Michael passed away in 2008, I kind of lost track of what the company was publishing. This year is the publisher’s fifteenth anniversary, so Worlds of Aspen 2013: Free Comic Book Day is an opportunity for them to show off the new Fathom series. Aspen Matthews is back, taking a reporter on a journey under the sea (fortunately without Flounder or Sebastian). Along the way, Aspen recaps all of the previous plot-lines and characters, only to find out that something bad has happened to her longtime nemesis Killian. This pretty much serves as a jump-on point for the next volume of the series.
On the art side, it has really well rendered backgrounds and features some of the best coloring you would see in modern comics. Plus for some reason, every woman is wearing a bikini and the men are overly muscled and scantily clad as well. It’s everything you would expect from an Aspen book.
The rest of the issue shares some information about the other new Aspen series that are coming out this year, all of which feature a lead female character. This approach is very interesting to me, as it seems like a good way to expand their audience to more women. But the fact that these characters are drawn like pin-up models makes me wonder if that will be a turn off women from wanting to read these.
I might give these a try, but the only thing I’m positive is picking up the Fathom series once its in a collected version. They’re much more satisfying to read in a single volume.
Now this was a throwback of sorts to the early 1990s. I’m talking about the days when Wizard magazine pretty much was the guide to comics and such. A publisher called Valiant was all the rage, with it’s mix of new modern characters and the revamped classics Magnus and Turok.
I never really read much from the publisher, save for the stuff that was put in the value comic bundles at dollar stores all through the nineties. The publisher returned in its newest incarnation last summer and the Valiant 2013: Free Comic Book Day special does a pretty good job serving as a starting point for new readers.
It features an excerpt from their big summer crossover Harbringer Wars as well as their other monthly books. In addition, they have creator intervivews. And the art in the Valiant books of 2013 looks a lot better to me than the art of Valiant in 1993.
The purpose of Free Comic Book day offerings is to attract new readers, so I guess I would say this did it’s job. I’m a bit more interested in their Archer and Armstrong series, but that’s more due to me really liking writer Fred Van Lente. So I’ll keep that on my radar but it’s not a must read for me. I’m going to put it out to the rest of you: how are the modern Valiant books?
Remember how not too long ago I was professing my love of those early 1980s Moon Knight comics? I read that series’ 1985 follow-up mini-series Moon Knight: Fist of Knoshu and didn’t really enjoy it.
The whole purpose of this was to set up a new status quo and to reboot the character to a certain extent. The character’s origin is still the same; they’ve just added more ties to the Egyptian god Knoshu.
Knoshu’s rival, the deity known as Anubis has selected a new avatar to walk the earth. To combat this, Knoshu’s worshipers have recruited Marc Spector into becoming Moon Knight once again. To help sweeten the deal, the cult arms him with some magical weapons and cast a spell on him gives him supernatural powers tied to the moon.
Moon Knight goes on to stop Anubis’ avatar, but at the cost of alienating his girlfriend Marlene and much of his inner circle by re-donning the costume. But hey, he got some sweet powers out of the deal!
I really liked the previous take on the character, with Moon Knight having a much stronger pulp influence. This more supernatural based version really didn’t do it for me. I mean, I still like the character but in general anything that goes too much into supernatural and even horror genres turns me off. I do have more of the previous series that I want to look at. That said, I’ll recommend this for completion only.
Isn’t it kind of crazy to think that the Transformers have been a part of our culture for just about thirty years now? Transformers #1 brings the world’s most famous robots into the realm of comic books.
This issue does exactly what you would expect it to do. It’s a quick adaptation of the Transformers back story, with the Cybertronian civil war between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons spilling over to our planet, with them laying comatose under a volcano in Oregon since the dinosaur era. One day an eruption reawakens the robots (who have now adapted to their new surrounding), rekindling their ages old feud. It also introduces the comics version of the Witwicky family, the humans who wind up interacting the most with the Autobots.
It’s a great beginning to the run of the Marvel era of Transformers comics, and hard to believe that this almost wound up being just a four issue mini series. The book sold like hotcakes and went on to have an eighty issue run.
There’s a lot of talent on the creative side of this book, whether it be the awesome Bill Sienkiewicz cover to Bill Mantlo’s credit as a co-writer on this book. That is something that I was never aware of till this last re-reading.
The one very impressive thing about the creative team on this is that colorist Nel Yomtov did the colors on all eighty issues of the series, plus all the various specials and related mini series that were off shoots of this. That’s one heck of a streak right there!
New Mutants #87
New Mutants #87 introduces Cable to the Marvel Universe. It’s not every month a character who is going to have this big an impact on the series debuts every month.
Not only did Cable debut in this issue but his primary nemesis Stryfe does as well. Stryfe is part of a group of terrorist mutants called the Mutant Liberation Front. They’re attempting to rescue the incarcerated New Mutants Rusty and Skids. And by rescue, I mean wind up brainwashing them into joining their ranks.
As this is going on, Cable shows up in an attempt to stop Stryfe from abducting the duo. The book ends with the MLF escaping and Cable being locked up by the government, as he was blamed for the attack.
What this issue did was set up the last year of the series, as well as it’s relaunch/metamorphosis into X-Force. In the issue, it wasn’t very clear why Cable needed to protect Rusty, Skids or the rest of the New Mutants, but it was established that there was some reason he would not accept them joining Stryfe’s forces. There’s a lot of mystery about what is going on and it does get explained in later issues.
New Mutants #87 is also pretty cool in my book, as it’s a collaboration between writer Louise Simonson and artist Rob Liefeld, both of whom I am a pretty big fan of
Cowboy comics are one subgenre that has disappeared. Cowboys in general have fallen off the popular culture landscape since the late 1960s. The Kid Colt one-shot by Tom DeFalco and Rick Burchett is an adventure featuring Kid Colt, one of the premier cowboys from Marvel’s history.
The story is very straight forward; it’s a retelling of Kid Colt’s origin and early days through the narration of a man named Everett (I wonder if that was a conscious nod to longtime Marvel creator Bill Everett). The sheriffs are out to find the young cowboy, who has been erroneously charged with the murder of a farmer. Everett is helping Kid Colt clear his name, and along the way there is all the action that you would expect in a cowboy comic book.
This was a fine read; Burchett’s art worked well with the story. This is worth checking out, especially if you’ve never read a cowboy story before. Who knows; you might even like it!
This is another “tales from the quarter bin” comic. The Torch #1 came out in the fall of 2009, but what makes it odd that the series seems to have been published through a partnership between Marvel and Dynamite. The mini-series is about the original Human Torch Jim Hammond.
Hammond–an android who can burst into flames–is one of the most underused of Marvel’s original “big three” characters. Captain America and Namor been fixtures of the Marvel Universe, but he seems to get the short end of the stick mostly due to Johnny Storm flying around with his name.
Any who, Hammond isn’t featured too much in the first issue. Toro–his didekick–has been resurrected and hates his life. He’s largely forgotten, his girlfriend moved on, and he’s finding it hard getting used to being alive after being a corpse since the end of World War II. Toro decides to avenge his death by killing his murderer, the villainous Mad Tinkerer. Conveniently as this is going on, Tinkerer is working for Norman Osbron to replicate the science that created both Toro and Jim Hammond. The issue ends with Toro captured and Hammond’s remains being exhumed.
This seems like it could be a fun series to me, especially knowing my love of second tier characters. The mini-series also has awesome covers from Alex Ross. The good thing is that this whole mini-series is featured on Marvel Unlimited which I subscribe to, so expect some more discussion about this in the near future.
We are back! I finally got around to looking at the last six issues of Justice League International. This was the second series from the New 52 that I was really excited about that happened to get cancelled. So what happens to the Booster Gold lead group on their final mission?
This final story arc starts with a bang, as the group gets attacked during a public event by a new villain named Breakdown. This guy–along with his squad of villains–wants the world to descend into chaos and anarchy, and what better way to start that campaign by taking out one of the premier super groups while the world watches. There are countless casualties; Rocket Red and some of the JLI’s support staffers were killed. Ice, Fire and Vixen have all been seriously injured.
The rest is a pretty by the numbers super hero story. Booster recruits some new members to the team, including OMAC and Batwing (well, more so Batman brought him to the fold since they’re besties). JLI has to put aside all their fears and what has just happened to them in order to save the world, which they do. The final issue ties up all the loose ends of the series, with the team on the verge of disbandment until Batman is able to secure them a new headquarters and financial support from Bruce Wayne. It’s also stressed that they feel they have to carry on so Rocket Red will not have died in vain.
The biggest problem that I had with this–and one of my biggest complaints about the whole New 52–is that for some reason, it seems really hard to take any of the villains seriously. They’re all new, for the most part, and seem really generic. Not to mention, not all that threatening. Breakdown’s crew just seemed lacking and it was hard to believe that they were really that much of a threat.
That said, the ending was really weird, especially since it was the last issue of the series. It sets up a pretty firm new status quo and that the story would be continuing as opposed to stopping cold. I don’t think you can blame Dan Jurgens writing for that; perhaps he wasn’t told that the twelfth issue would be the last.
I still think that Justice League International still has a lot of life in it as a concept, as the lesser super hero team in the DC Universe. I hope that we get to see the members of the team make more appearances in stories to come.