Nightwing #30

I’ll admit it; sometimes I purchase comics because of the hype that is around them. And that is precisely why I bought Nightwing #30. It features the debut of the New 52 (although it feels really odd still calling it that nearly three years later) of Helena Bertinelli, better known as the Huntress.

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The issue starts out at a refugee medical camp in the Congo that has fallen under attack by a “depopulationist” group called the Fist of Cain, which is made up of some of the most random looking assassins and murderers they could hire. One is decked out in corpse paint, looking like the lovechild of a Norwegian black metal band and King Diamond. The other looks like he walked straight out of Disney World’s Adventurers Club.

One of the relief workers was Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Batman’s long-time doctor. She is conveniently rescued by Helena, who is wearing some sort of white disco suit and has a bit of a fro going on. Leslie is taken to her headquarters where she talks with a man with an unrecognizable face and might have spilled the beans about Batman being Bruce Wayne. We know this because she’s telling Batman the story, and he doesn’t look too happy. Leslie also mentions the group has a weird insignia that she keeps remembering, an eye at the center of a spider-web.

The story then shifts to the Batcave, where Batman and Nightwing are involved in some sort of weird Fight Club style conversation. Basically in the last few months Nightwing has had his secret identity revealed by the Crime Syndicate, turned into a living bomb and apparently “killed” by Lex Luthor. It has been quite the rough past few months for him. So instead of talking about why he should join the cover black-ops group Spyral, they have a fight to the death to see if he is up to the challenge. Of course he is. The book ends with Dick going off with Valerie, setting up the new Grayson series for next month.

As an issue, it nicely ties up everything from the Nightwing series, but I really could have done without the Bats/Dick fight to the death. It just seemed over the top. I think Batman really needs to learn how to communicate with people without using his fists so damn much.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #31

ImageThis is a series that I’ve been picking up every now and then. To be honest, I’m not up to date with the book, but the fact that it has the lead characters fighting with Lobo gave issue #31 the potential to be awesome in at least my mind.

We’re joined in progress on some alien space station and Lobo is standing victorious. He has defeated the Outlaws and is ready to unleash some sort of over the topic, only-in-comics type of weapon that will turn the planet earth into a black hole.

Why?

Lobo goes on a rant about how destroying the planet would be great for his business, especially since there is some sort of Rann/Thangar war brewing. Luckily for everyone on the planet, Arsenal brings his A-game, breaks Lobo’s war machine and sends him to the other side of the galaxy. It’s back home for the Outlaws.

Who cares what is up with them, but the ending teases the long-awaited bad-ass Lobo versus the New 52 Lobo. Hot damn.

Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench

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I think I’m the only person in the world who finds Geoff Johns’ writing to be very hit or miss. I know I’m not the only person in the world who thinks that Aquaman can be pretty lame as a character. That said, when I picked up Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench I had really low expectations. What I wound up reading was a really fun story pitting Aquaman against an army of aquatic subterranean creatures.

The main story featured in this collection is from Aquaman #1-4, with the cannibalistic deep-sea dwellers called the Trench invading the surface world. It’s up to Aquaman and his wife Mera to stop this invasion. Think of Night Of The Living Dead meets The Abyss, except with a lot more humor worked in. Eventually it’s revealed that the reason that the Trench are invading the surface world is that they are facing extinction and trying to stop it, but at the expense of the surface world. Eventually Aquaman saves mankind (and probably the rest of the residents of the ocean as well) by trapping the Trench. And along the way he rescues a Golden Retriever who winds up being named Aquadog.

The other two stories in this collection feature Aquaman stranded in a desert and a story that tells more about Mera’s origin as an Atlantean assassin. These are perfectly acceptable, but the main story line is what makes the collection. It’s certainly sold me on the series; I have the next two volumes waiting for me at the library.

 

John Romita Jr’s Superman May Be The Coolest Thing Ever

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Superman just became awesome again.

I will admit that I’ve grown away from Superman as a character. At one point he was definitely one of my favorites; I loved the whole Dan Jurgens/1990s era of the character when they were putting out four tightly knit Superbooks a month. But over the years, I wound up losing interest, especially all of the undoing of the John Byrne post-Crisis aspects and replacing them with a more Geoff Johns/Richard Donner theme.

The Superman in the New 52 books has peaked my interest on and off, mostly due to Jurgens’ involvement on the title. Fast forward to the recent announcement that there was going to be a new Superman series with Geoff Johns at the helm and I wasn’t that excited. But with them announcing that John Romita Jr. would be drawing Supes with Klaus Janson on the inking side, suddenly this is something I want to read.

This is the first DC work that JRjr has done and having it be on one of their–if not the–highest profile characters certainly is exciting. Color me optimistic.

Batman: Death Of The Family

 

death_of_the_familyThanks 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.

Teen Titans #0

ImageI 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.

Justice League of America #7.1: Deadshot #1

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I’m not reading too much  current DC stuff this days, but I did pick up Justice League of America #7.1. That said, writer Matt Kindt should get all the credit in the world for doing something extremely difficult: making Deadshot awesome.

The issue lays out the New 52 version of Deadshot’s origin that kind of models itself after the Batman model. When his super frugal parents were gunned downed by a wasteful and sloppy pair of gang members, he snapped.

Deadshot spent the rest of his life training to avenge their deaths in a cost-effective way…by being completely accurate. And this sense of frugality and perfectionism has made him one of the–if not the–best hitmen available. He has a very odd moral compass and that sets him apart from the more wantonly violent assassins in comics (Bullseye I’m looking at you!).

The story ends with him explaining his relationship with Amanda Waller and her government sponsored Suicide Squad, and how he’ll do anything–good or bad–as long as the price is right.  Kindt did a great job taking an older gimmick comic book character and completely modernizing him. Check this out…you won’t be disappointed.

Batman/Superman #1-2

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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.

Green Arrow #6-16: Ollie, We Have A Problem

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I know I should have liked this but I didn’t.

This was Ann Nocenti’s return to the comics world. Nocenti was responsible, either as a writer or an editor for so much stuff in the 1980s and 1990s. She’s gone on to pursue outside interests and this was her first work in comics for a while.

I think what killed these issues for me had nothing to do with Nocenti’s writing or anyone on the art side. What bothers me is how hard of a time I have been having getting into this New 52 version of the Green Arrow. I mean there is plenty of adventure, ranging from him being seduced by a set of bio-weapon engineered triplets to a pair of Seattle archers exploiting the Occupy Wall Street mantra for their own personal gain. Arrow also gets a crossover with Hawkman and even goes to China for a while.

So why am I having such a hard time connecting with this? If you’ve read Green Arrow comics for any amount of time, you can’t say it’s because of his rogue’s gallery. The stories where Green Arrow is most interesting are the ones that involve his great extended supporting cast, whether it be a fixture like Black Canary or Arsenal, or more recent  characters like his son Connor or Mia. Unfortunately, none of them are part of this. Oliver does have his Q-Core employees who help him, but they really aren’t that interesting.

Anyone writing the New 52 Green Arrow also has another problem: they’re competing with the television show Arrow. Both have a similar theme, in that Oliver Queen is just starting out in his exploits as a debuting vigilante. But what Arrow did so well was put together a great supporting cast for him. The comics series has yet to show that. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a conscious decision to distance the two.

Jeff Lemire (most recently of Animal Man fame) took over with issue #17. Unfortunately, I’ve kind of moved on from the character. I’m really liking Arrow, and that has become my Green Arrow of choice these days. Maybe I’ll give it a try if my local public library has it. But for now I’m done with the exploits of the emerald archer.

Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads

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Over the years, I’ve gained a certain fondness to the Helena Bertinell/Huntress character. And I think the fact that Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads pretty much eliminates her in the New 52 DC landscape might have soured my reading experience.

This mini-series is written by one of the creators of the original Helena Wayne Huntress, Paul Levitz, and pretty much sets up the return of that character in DC’s current status quo. Huntress is no longer Bertinelli (Levitz makes a nod to this by having the character use this as an alias) and back to the pre-Crisis Earth 2 version that is the daughter of Catwoman and Batman.

The story itself is pretty run of the mill; Huntress goes to Italy to stop a weapons smuggling ring that is supplying the gangs of Gotham City, only to uncover that there is a related sex trafficking scheme as well. And Huntress–regardless who it is behind the mask–has a problem with that and takes down the crime syndicate. So after her work vacation, she leaves with Power Girl to start the new World’s Finest series.

The result is a kind of dull story that is completely passable. I wonder if Levitz originally wrote this as a Bertinelli story and editorial decided to switch it to a Wayne one at some point. Who knows. I hate sounding negative, but I just couldn’t get into the story at all, probably because it symbolized the end of my favorite Huntress. But on a more positive note, I did like the Guillem March art in this.

So should you give Crossbow at the Crossroads a chance? If you are a fan of any of the creators of the book–or even Helena Wayne–then you will be content with this. But if you’re like me and part of the Bertinelli camp, you can skip this.

Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood

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Over the holiday I decided to give the new Wonder Woman series a shot and read Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood to check out the New 52′s Diana. So how was it?

I really didn’t know what to expect with Brian Azzarello writing. I enjoyed a lot of his work, especially 100 Bullets, and seem to have him pigeonholed in my mind as being more of a crime comics writer. So I was doubly surprised to see him not only writing a Wonder Woman book but one that wound up being very mythology based.

The plot was a little confusing for me at first, but it reads more like a family soap opera based in Greek mythology. Zeus rules this family and is a bit of a man whore; he’s had countless children with random gods, mortals and demigods. The latest woman to carry a Zeus baby is a Virginian named Zola, who is wanted dead by Zeus’ wife Hera and son Apollo. Wonder Woman gets swept up into this after she herself finds out her true origin; she wasn’t made from clay but is the product of a one night stand between her mother Hippolyta and Zeus! It’s up to her and her half-god brother Hermes to protect Zola and the unborn child. Along the way she  also has to confront her mother–and the rest of the Amazonians–about her true parentage.

Reading this, it felt like there was a lot going on and took a few re-reads to pick up on everything. It was very well written, but I just had too hard of a time getting it to click. On the art side, Cliff Chiang’s art is always amazing and I loved every page.

I’m going to give this book a thumbs up, even though it wasn’t for me. If you like mythology or intertwining family drama, this is the book for you.

Deathstroke #12

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Rob Liefeld’s run on Deathstroke concludes in this issue, with the end of the Deathstroke/Lobo battle. Bare with me, as I’m still a little sketchy on how this issue ended.

It turns out the that Lobo’s release was orchestrated by Maxim (who hired Deathstroke at the start of this story) were the ones who released Lobo. The goal was to lead him and the Omegas (the alien children of Lobo’s victims) to some sort of spaceship (so Maxim could loot its weapons supply), and Deathstroke’s purpose was to take out Lobo and clean up their mess.

So how does Deathstroke off Lobo? He impaled the Czarnian with the poor alien’s own super motorcycle, flies the two of them into the upper atmosphere, and blows Lobo up. Well that was short-lived. Maybe it’s just because I’m a big fan of the character, but it seems like a cop-out to have killed him off that quickly and easily.

Deathstroke ends the story by telling off Maxim for putting the Omegas in danger for his own personal gain. Before he leaves he stops to flirt with Zealot (the Omega’s bodyguard), awkwardly kissing her and leaves. And that’s it.

Now I know I’m biased; I do like Liefeld’s stuff a lot. But this issue, well, it was pretty confusing plot wise. And that’s a shame, because I think he really over-thought it. The story could have been a lot simpler. The other thing I noticed was that the book was light on backgrounds. There were a noticeable amount of panels without them. But I guess that was a sacrifice that was made to make sure the book came out on time.

The best part of this story was the brief epilogue, where Sheba (Lobo’s girlfriend that was assumed to be deceased) is actually alive and well, albeit in suspended animation. I know the concept is borrowed from Lobo’s Back, but there is definitely something cool about imagining a female Lobo terrorizing the New 52.

Grifter # 10-12

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We’re joined in progress for Grifter #10-12. This story arc was a throwback to the old Wildstorm comics; Grifter has assembled a small team and they’re going after the Daemonites. He’s joined by another former Wildstormer in Deathblow as well as Niko, a female assasin/operative type who seems to be the New 52-ized version of Cheshire (Roy Harper’s on-again, off-again lady-friend).

There’s not a lot to talk about these issues to be honest. There’s a lot of gun fighting between Grifter’s group and the Daemonites, all leading up to Grifter to having a massive throwdown with Hellspont. It’s exactly what you would expect from a book written by Rob Liefeld (in this case, co-written by Frank Tierri). The art on this was by Scott Clark, with Marat Mychaels filling in on issue #11. Both were fine.

What drew me into liking this was that it was an easy read. Everything made sense plot wise for the most part, the panels were filled with action and it never took itself too seriously.

This story was an easy read, and seems to be building towards Hellspont being a more prominent villain in the New 52 universe.

Hawk and Dove #8

Here it is…the final issue of Hawk and Dove. Our avian avatars have teamed up with Xyra to make sure they survive the prophecy that leads to their deaths.

Issue #8 is pretty much a pay-off issue for the story, in a sense that this is where all of the action happens. They storm the cult’s headquarters–conveniently located in Washington, DC just like them. Hawk creates a diversion against the cult, which is a bunch of ninjas clad in white just like Storm Shadow, giving Dove and Xyra breaking in on the other side of the building, fighting even more ninjas.

D’Khan, the avatar of flying lizards (which seems like a natural predator of birds if they were to have existed) finally appears and battles the two women. Dove gets the best of him, but can’t bring herself to kill him which D’Khan takes advantage of and beats the snot out of her. Eventually Hawk catches up with them and he has no qualms killing D’Khan. At no point does Hawk ever wind up in a point where he would kill Dove, so either they forgot about that part of the prophecy or it turned out to just be false. Xyra thanks the duo for their help, saying that they will always have an ally between her and her cult.

The book ends with Hank and Dove sitting on a rooftop, going over the last eight issues and then getting back to work stopping criminals in DC. It’s kind of a flat ending, as the weird relationship tension between the two is never addressed (let alone resolved).

Liefeld had some help on the art by longtime collaborator Marat Mychaels, and it’s amazing how the two draw so similarly. This was the first issue of the series where I had strong feelings negatively about the art. There were a few pages that felt like they were scanned at too low of a resolution and they tried to overcompensate with over the top coloring. That, and there was one page where it’s revealed that Dove and Xyra have exactly the same haircut/face and it looked like they were twins.

As a whole, I enjoyed the Hawk and Dove series while it lasted. Was it groundbreaking and a classic? Definitely not. But by no means it wasn’t a fun read. It’s pure super hero mayhem and nothing more. I  picked up this book solely for the fact that I’ve always liked the characters, an appreciation of Liefeld’s art, and really liking his run on the title back in the early 1990s, before he blew up during his New Mutants/X-Force phase.

Maybe with some stronger writing, this book would have lasted longer. Hell, if it was Geoff Johns and Liefeld’s book, it would have been a blockbuster seller. But for what it was, I enjoyed it and I can’t wait to see the characters surface again.

Hawk and Dove #7

The answer is yes: Hawk and Dove #7 does start out looking like a Dazzler comic book from the early eighties. The next-to-last issue in Rob Liefeld’s series starts out with Dawn and Hank (which I just noticed almost sound like their respective code names) at a very disco-like environment…they’re out at the club.

And as you can see, Liefeld has Dawn all decked out in the most skin-tight dress he could draw. Dawn is pretty bummed; her boyfriend Deadman dumped her so she’s out looking to pick up dudes. And this night she brings Hank along, who only starts a huge brawl once someone gets too close to her for his comfort.

Outside, they get into a huge argument, with Hank getting more and more misogynistic in a rant about why she can’t go dressed out like that and how he always has to protect her because all men are creeps (except for him). The whole scene is awkward, as Hank has never really expressed interest in her romantically. His over-protectiveness is just odd, and thankfully it’s ended when the two are attacked by some random villain that looks like Kraven the Hunter and Deathstroke the Terminator’s lovechild, simply named the Hunter. He kind of beats the crap out of them, cutting off the finger (or as he called it Talon) of Hawk and a bunch of Dawn’s hair. Hunter gets scared off by this woman named Xyra, who looks like a grown up version of Freefall from Gen 13.

While recovering back at their apartment, Xyra explains that she’s part of a long running secret society that has been worshiping the hawk avatar and that the Hunter works for some cleric named D’Yek, who coincidentally is part of an anti-hawk group that plans on destroying him (thus needing their hair/finger for totems in a magical spell). All the while, Dawn is standing around in her bra and panties, and a very open bathrobe showing off her goods. No wonder Hank is so overprotective of her; she’s always throwing herself at people!

The book ends with D’Yek and Hunter talking at their own secret lair discussing how they will destroy the Hawk avatar and that according to old prophecies Hawk will kill Dove, a nod to the prior continuity of how the same happened when Hawk was Monarch during Armageddon 2001. It also makes me feel really old remembering that was in all the comics advertisements of stuff I was reading twenty years ago.

So the stage is set for the final issue of the series. Will Hawk get killed by the Hunter and D’Yek? Will Hawk kill Dove? Probably not. But will I miss this series? That’s a yes.

Grant Morrison’s Action Comics

Who is the best writer currently at DC? I’ll give you a hint; tt’s not Geoff Johns. It’s Grant Morrison, and his re imagining of Superman in the new Action Comics is just another example. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve read a Morrison-ized version of Superman; we first saw that starting in 2005′s All Star Superman. In his latest project, he does something completely different.

The Clark Kent in Action Comics is more of an every-man than a superman. He goes around stopping criminals, ranging from low street level types to corrupt business and government officials. This mysterious alien vigilante–clad only in a t-shirt, jeans and cape–has caught the attention of a military, especially General Lane (Lois’ dad) who has allied himself with a kindred spirit in Lex Luthor. Both of them have their own reasons why a super powered alien is a menace to society.

All of that changes when a secret deal that Luthor made with Brainiac backfires, and the city of Metropolis is taken by the evil sentient alien. They have no choice to trust Superman. All the while, Clark is having a hard time making ends meet just starting out as a reporter in Metropolis.

What makes this all work is how everything makes sense. Luthor doesn’t want Superman around, as it exposes the deal he made with Brainiac. General Lane has is own reservations, especially since his daughter is following Superman around. Even the origin of the Superman outfit makes sense; Clark finds it (turns out, the suit is Kryptonian battle armor) on board the ship that sent him to earth once he recovers it from the government.

There’s some other shorter stories included in this volume. One of them is Clark Kent meeting the Legion of Super Heroes for the first time with art by Andy Kubert. I really didn’t get into this that much, but mostly because I’ve never been able to get into those characters. But its important to the whole Superboy and future of DC mythos.

Action Comics is just a lot of fun. It’s a different, more modern take on a classic concept. It reminds me a lot of the original Ultimate Spider-Man series. You should definitely check this out.

Nightwing #0

Nightwing #0 was a damn good comic book. It gives a look back to how Dick Grayson wound up joining Batman’s crusade. What I like about this is how it doesn’t attempt to create a new and radically revamped origin; it just enhances the story we already know.

Dick was an orphaned circus performer after his parents were gunned down by the mob. But how exactly did Bruce Wayne wind up getting custody of him? Quite simple; he was to hide out at Wayne Manor until his parents’ murderer was apprehended. There was a bit of a bond with Bruce and Dick, for both having gone through such an ordeal.

But what writer Tom DeFalco added to the mythology was how Dick much smarter than Bruce ever imagined, not only figuring out that he was Batman but helping bring in the murderers. Dick proved to be someone competent enough to become Batman’s partner in crime-fighting.

I like it because this felt like an old silver age story. A lot of fun and a quick read, but superb for the Batman purist.

Phantom Stranger #0

September has been DC’s “zero month” as every title has been numbered #0, giving them a chance to flush out the origins of their characters in the New 52, as well as launch some new books. Their publisher Dan Didio gets to flex his writing muscles out on the new Phantom Stranger series.

It picks up with the DC Free Comic Book Day special, with the back story to the man who becomes the Phantom Stranger being punished by what seemed to be a mystical council.

So who is the man condemned to an eternity of wandering around? It’s Judas.

Yup that Judas.

Forced to wear Jesus’ cloak and a necklace made of the very coins he was given for his act of betrayal, Judas is now forced to wander the earth until he is able to make amends for what he has done. So this phantom stranger has been wandering around for nearly 2000 years.

Trying to make up for his past, Phantom Stranger attempts to help a detective-gone-rogue named Jim Corrigan rescue his girlfriend, who has been kidnapped by some mafia types. Unfortunately, Corrigan picked the wrong person to team up with and gets killed, getting turned into God’s force of wrath–the Spectre. So Judas is forced to keep wandering until he can redeem himself. Unfortunately for him, he’s doomed to betray everyone he encounters.

As a one-shot that establishes the new version of both Phantom Stranger and the Spectre, this book definitely succeeds. But as an ongoing, I really don’t have much interest in this. It kind of reminds me of a super hero version of My Name Is Earl but with religious overtones as Judas wanders the world trying to make things right but failing every time.

Batgirl #6

I didn’t read Batgirl #5 yet, but the sixth issue starts out with Bruce Wayne getting ready to clock Batgirl with a crowbar. That certainly got my attention.

Bruce was under the control of a new super villain called Gretel, whose use of mind control for lethal purposes and an obsession with killing powerful men is a huge problem. By Gotham City standards, you can’t get more manly or powerful than Bruce Wayne. So with some slick detective work and teaming up with Batman, our caped heroine is able to save the day.

If anyone needs more proof of why Gail Simone is a great writer, look no further. Gail uses a very simple, almost cliché plot of the hero preventing the murder of a public figure. But what she does with instead is uses it as a frame to contrast the two similar characters.

Both Gretel and Batgirl are survivors of gun violence. Gretel was a journalism student investigating a mob boss and wound up being shot, just as Batgirl was shot by the Joker back in The Killing Joke (which thankfully is still part of canon in the New 52). 
What separates the two women is what happened afterwards. Gretel was left for dead and  recovered on her own, becoming extremely vengeful. Batgirl was fortunate enough to have not only the love and support of her father but of Batman as well. It’s a pretty touching story and that exists in the confines of a single issue.

Grifter #4

Everyone has been saying that the Grifter series has been pretty cool, and I was meaning to pick it up once Liefeld was on board. But I did manage to pick up Grifter #4 solely because of its Green Arrow connection.

The issue starts out pretty intensely; Grifter has crashed a car into the lobby of Q-Core (Oliver Quinn’s family business) trying to get some attention from someone, with a hostage. And as everyone knows, messing with the company owned/operated by a super hero only leads to violence.

What happens next in this issue is what really sold me on this whole series.

Scott Clark’s pencils are amazing, melded with a great three dimensional rendered background. It just makes the fight look that much more awesome, as Grifter and Green Arrow slug it out across the city of Seattle. It ends with the archer defeating him, but before he can be taken into custody he gets rescued by some chick on a motorcycle (who I assume plays a bigger role in the series).

But before all of this happens, Grifter tells Green Arrow that the only reason he set foot on the Q-Core campus was that the company had been infiltrated by Daemonites. This makes sense with the character Grifter, as the Daemonites play a role with the character going way back to the days when Wildstorm was still an independent publisher through Image Comics.

Nod to the past aside, this was a fairly good series. If only Green Arrow was as interesting on his own as he was in this. Unfortunately I’m not going to be sticking around, because he doesn’t stay in the series after the issue.