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.

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Arrow Season 1 Episodes 7 and 8: The Ones With The Huntress

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Helena Bertinelli may be out of the DC Universe proper these days, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appear in Arrow. These episodes weren’t a proper two-parter, but thematically they book end each other.

It all starts with Oliver’s mother almost being the victim of the attempted murder of mob boss and occasional business partner Frank Bertinelli. Concerned about what happened, Oliver decides to take it upon himself to get a closer look at Bertinelli only to find himself loosely dating the mobster’s daughter Helena. Unfortunately the two become a couple, only to find out that they both have extracurricular vigilante activities. The only difference is that Helena’s are more vengeful; she was the one who targeted her father, as he had her previous fiancée killed.

So the couple does everything you expect they would; fight the Bertinelli crime family and the Triad gangs (from earlier in the series), and winds up running awkwardly into his previous girlfriend Dinah (now dating his best friend Tommy). The relationship, well, mutually implodes as Helena wants to be more lethal in her approach.

They officially break up when Oliver won’t let Helena kill her father, instead wanting to turn him over to the police. This was officially her “deal breaker” moment, as she dumps him and threatens to kill and expose his identity if he should ever cross her in the future. If I were Oliver, I could be content with this break up. The episode ends with Tommy asking Oliver for a job, since he’s a broke debutante late 20s/early thirty something. If life were only that easy.

There was a lot going on in this episode with the introduction of Huntress, who seems like an appropriate character to add to the show since she’s only tangentially associated with Batman. I like that they introduced her in a way they can use in following episodes, since she knows Oliver’s secret and is a bit of an enemy.

Chromium Comic Book Covers…In 2013?

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Yes. The holographic/shiny/magic foil covers are back. Brian MIchael Bendis tweeted this picture today of the upcoming chromium cover version of Age of Ultron: Book 1 and it brings back memories of the “OMG everything is a collector’s item” zeitgeist of the 1990s.

If you weren’t following comics during that period, you really missed out on some craziness. Comic book sales were near an all time high, not necessarily due to the comics themselves being all that great or due to people really enjoying comics that much. The comic book market had been taken hostage by speculators–people buying comics in bulk in the assumption that they would be able to flip it and turn a monster profit. The publishers were more than happy to placate them, with all kinds of gimmick stories (ranging from the Death of Superman to title relaunches) to placate them. They also created what felt like a million different types of covers–hologram, pop-up, and even a Colorforms type–to get people to buy more comics. Although it was a great idea at the time, it almost killed the whole industry by the later part of the mid 1990s when the speculators realized that they couldn’t charge a premium for something that had a print run of over 500,000.

So with Marvel bringing back the chromium for this is truly for novelty sake. When each publisher has ten chromium covers a month, then we can panic.

Friday Fights #25: Mr. Fantastic vs. Namor

namor-vs-reed-richards-mr-fantasticThis is a perfect post-Valentine’s Day Friday Fights! Even though Invisible Woman’s marriage to Mr. Fantastic is regarded as one of the best marriages/pairings in comics, the relationship is perpetually threatened by an obsessive Namor. So if these two men fought for her hand, who would come out the victor?

There are a few things to consider about this epic battle. Namor has a lot of advantages. He’s much stronger than Reed and can fly. Not to mention, the closer he gets to water the more powerful he becomes. Namor can also be a little bit of a psychopath at times, so you would only assume he could be a little more, um, violent with Reed for standing between him and the woman he obsesses.

Reed’s power of unbelievable elasticity kind of pales in comparison. But then again, that’s usually the case. He usually relies on a myriad of gadgets and inventions created just in case he finds himself in situations like this, not to mention that he usually has his three closest friends with him at all times. So without either, it really gives the advantage to Namor.

But there is one thing missing from this hypothetical battle: Sue. It’s pretty clear that she’s madly in love with Reed. In about forty years of comics, no writer has been able to figure out a way for Namor to split them up. So whether she interferes on her hubby’s behalf (or even pleas for Namor to stop), it is a given that Reed is leaving with Sue. And at the end of the day, that’s what is most important. WINNER:  Mr. Fantastic

Thunderbolts #3

thunderbolts-3.jpgJust finished reading Thunderbolts #3, and Red Hulk seems to be turning into Hannibal from A-Team. You know what that means…there’s a plan coming together.

Red Hulk explains why he has been carrying around a comatose Leader to Deadpool. The big skulled villain is an important part of the plan. And hearing this, Deadpool brings up a valid point: as soon as the Punisher becomes aware of the Leader’s presence, the villain is as good as did. Because that is what he does.

While this is going on, Punisher is training some of the rebels to operate weaponry. Now his motivation for helping Red Hulk is starting to make sense. In his mind, helping arm and train the locals to overthrow the Kata Jayan military is the only right thing to do, since they are villainous murderers. Along with an undercover Venom, he leads a team of rebels to victory in ceasing all kinds of weaponry. It’s hard to be the Punisher and not having a large arsenal at your disposal.

There’s also a reveal about the Kata Jayan military; in the last issue when Elektra and Deadpool were captured, they only kept Elektra as they assumed Deadpool was dead. The government is being aided by Madman, the Leader’s gamma powered brother. So that  makes sense to why they were carting around the smarter of the Sterns brothers..

The issue has one heck of an ending splash page. Remember Deadpool’s comment about Punisher and Leader? He called it and the book ends with him gloating about a bullethole in the Leader’s head.

Thunderbolts has really picked up a lot of steam and has really become a good read. There’s definitely a lot that still has to be answered, like Deadpool and Elektra’s involvement. It also looks like they are suggesting that it was’t a gamma bomb that was used on the Kata Jayan citizens, and I’m assuming it was Madman.

Thunderbolts #2

thunderbolts-2.jpgNow this is more like it. Thunderbolts #2 is much more in line with what I want to read in this series. Red Hulk and the group are off to the small southeast Asian country of Kata Jaya to put a stop to an oppressive regime.

The nation’s military has been testing gamma weapons on its own people; one bomb took out over 600 civilians–intentionally. They also have acquired gamma powered ammunition as well. To aid the civilians, Red Hulk has promised to support the insurgency. That part I can understand, but I’m still a little confused as to why the rest of the group is getting involved. Daniel Way wrote a scene that connects Flash Thompson to this, as he’s thrilled to fight alongside General Ross. They also have another similarity, being that they’re both America-first military types who have been turned into monsters to protect their country. But the rest, I’m still not sold on. To help unify the look of the group, they’ve also explained that the group has been outfitted with red gamma powered armor (to help from gamma poisoning of the Kata Jayan weaponry) and creating a black/red color palate for their wardrobe.

Now in Kata Jaya, they’ve sent Elektra and Deadpool to infiltrate the government’s forces, only for them to be captured. The big cliffhanger is Red Hulk revealing that he has an unconscious Leader (the literally big brained Hulk villain) on some sort of life support system.

This issue has a lot more going on that the previous, so I assume this will be more like the regular pacing of the series. Steve Dillon draws really cool, if not fairly bloody, fight scenes so I’m very happy with the direction the series is taking.

GI Joe vs. Transformers II #2

transformers-vs-gijoe-ii-2The 2004 miniseries GI Joe vs. Transformers II is full of 1980s toy nostalgia fun. Issue #2 continues the fun; making it feel like it was a missing episode of either Sunbow cartoon show.

The miniseries has a pretty straight forward plot; it follows the first miniseries dealing with Cobra Commander trying to acquire and implement Cybertronian technology. Unfortunately things get awkward when GI Joe and the Autobots try to stop Cobra (and the Decepticons stop by to get their gear back), and several Joes, Cobras and Transformers get displaced throughout the time stream.

This issue takes us back to Chicago in the late 1930s, with the Baroness, Beachhead, Roadblock and a poor Cobra Viper named Percy trying to track down Optimus Prime and the rest of the Transformers. Needless to say, it’s very silly in a good way, whether it be Baroness and Roadblock trying to infiltrate a mob hangout, or Percy being convinced that he’s going to get killed in this crazy dilemma he’s gotten himself sucked into. I bet he winds up surviving by the end of the mini-series, and probably winds up leaving Cobra or doing something constructive with his life. The whole gang survives at the end of the issue and leaves with a cliffhanger of Spirit, Barbeque, Dr. Mindbender, Tomax and Xamot materializing in a post apocalyptic future.

This series was from the time that Devil’s Due had the license in the early 2000s that I really enjoyed. Dan Jolley really knew how to write the characters in a way that built upon the old cartoons and the Larry Hama run on the Marvel series. On the art side, Tim Seeley is just great. He does an amazing job visually capturing the look of the characters.

Thunderbolts #1

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Thunderbolts is the book I’ve been waiting to read for quite some time.

As soon as I saw the teaser image, Thunderbolts completely got my attention. Any book that features some of the more modern characters that I’ve been into (Red Hulk and Flash Thompson-Venom) and puts them aside longtime favorites Punisher and Elektra pretty much guarantees a purchase. Not

The first issue of the series sets up the direction of the team. General Ross is putting together a group of some of the more “extreme” heroes of the Marvel universe to take matters into their own hands, mainly focusing on Ross recruiting an imprisoned Punisher to join him. And really, he doesn’t have much choice because he’s tied up in a warehouse with hundreds of angry mobsters getting ready to bust the door down. As this story is unfolding, they cut to scenes of Ross recruiting the rest of the team around the world.

It’s pretty much what you would expect from a first issue. I don’t know if Daniel Way usually writes in this decompressed style, but I do hope the action picks up in the future. I don wonder how this book would read if it was written by Garth Ennis, especially since the first arc is drawn by his regular collaborator Steve Dillon.

So final verdict: Thunderbolts has a lot of potential to be awesome. It’s got a really interesting characters, most of which have never been in a book with a team dynamic. And I think for those scenes, Way is going to do a great job writing. I can’t wait for him to  pick up the action in future issues; I want to see some crazy Dillon fight scenes!

Friday Fights #24: Cable vs. Deathstroke the Terminator

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We’re back after a break do an extreme case of being too busy. We have a battle of Cable vs. Satellite Deathstroke the Terminator! What would happen if these two bad-ass silver foxes did battle? These two might be a little more similar than you may think.

The first thing that comes to mind with Deathstroke and Cable is how similar the two of them are. First, their appearances come to mind. Both are white-haired. They both also happen to be missing an eye, but both manage to overcome that by being amazing supers. They’re master tacticians  And I’m sure that there is no weapon they haven’t been trained to operate, and probably have faced every kind of hand-to-hand combat imaginable.

On the weaponry end of things, I would have to give Cable being that he is from the future. He has access to blaster weaponry that Deathstroke can’t even imagine. That said, I would have to say that Deathstroke is a much more disciplined fighter, being that he is the best assassin/black ops type in the DC universe.

So what it comes down to is their powers. Cable does have some telepathic and telekinetic abilities, but for the most part he uses them to keep the techno-organic virus that plagues his body in check. Deathstroke has enhanced reflexes and physical strength. But it’s not his brawn that tips the scales in his favor.

Deathstroke is able to operate using 90% of his brain power, allowing him to think steps ahead of everyone around him. And at the end of the day, that’s all he needs to terminate Cable. WINNER: Deathstroke