Adventure Comics #467-469: Starman, Plastic Man and Ditko

adventure-comics-467Adventure Comics was a long running anthology series from DC. Issues #467-469 caught my attention due one of the features being the debut of the Prince Gavyn incarnation of Starman. I was drawn to this not because of the character, but more because it was Steve Ditko work from the 1980s.

After reading the Steve Ditko book, I’ve had a lot of interest in this period of his career which is very hit or miss. But in these issues, Ditko was on fire. The script is by Paul Levitz, who wrote a lot of DC’s more cosmic stories during this period.

Gavyn is a prince from the intergalactic empire of Throneworld, and after developing powers he was exiled into deep space while his evil and corrupt sister ascends to the throne. As Starman, he comes back to try to liberate his people. It’s what you would expect from a science fiction/fantasy/super hero comic book from this time. One cool thing about the story is that Starman’s origin isn’t explained till the third appearance of the character. I liked that because you already had a sense about him before that was all explained.

And, I guess another reason why I really wanted to pick these up was because of the Gavyn figure I have from the Justice League Unlimited line that Mattel put out during the mid 2000s. I felt obligated to learn a little more about a character that I wasn’t familiar with.

The other stories in these issues feature Plastic Man, which are pretty silly and kid friendly. I think that’s because this would be the time that the character was horrifying a generation of children on a Saturday morning cartoon show.

Don’t believe me?

This might be a conversation for another day.

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Justice League International #7-12: Booster Has A Breakdown

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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. 

Batman The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn

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It might be because I’ve read a lot of early 1990s Spider-Man books lately, but David Finch really reminds me of a modern Todd McFarlane, as far as being a superstar artist who gets to write his books as well as dark, more horror-tinged artistic stylings. Not to mention, they’re both Canadian. That said, Batman The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn really reminded me of something that McFarlane might have done.

The main story in this collection is from Batman: The Dark Knight  #1-5 and focuses on a new character named Dawn Golden (which if you flip her name around, becomes a really cool title for the story…get it?). Bruce was friends with her as a child and has turned up missing. Anyway, her disappearance was due for her jilting the affection of the Penguin who with the help of Killer Croc has her kidnapped. It read like there was some sort of ‘dinner with schmucks’ kind of a thing between Dawn and the Penguin. This part I get and then it becomes really confusing.

It turns out that Dawn’s father was a longtime occultist who for some reason needed to kill Dawn so he could open the gates of hell as part of a plan to demonically rule the earth. He’s come back from the dead to murder her. Somehow Ragman gets possessed twice in this story; the first time by underworld queen Lady Blaze to recruit Etrigan the Demon to her side. Batman wounds up talking Etrigan out of this, and the two are in a race to stop Dawn’s father Aleister (who is using Ragman as a conduit to return to the Earth and kill his daughter in part of some sort of demonic ritual). Dawn gets killed as part of this but Aleister doesn’t succeed in bringing hell to earth and Batman is sad that Dawn is dead. Not to mention there was some other subplots going on, including Commissioner Gordon dealing with an upstart detective, as well as another with a child named Mira who was trying to steal the Batmobile as collateral to rescue her father.

So what did I think?

Well on the art side of things, Finch is great at drawing the more supernatural/horror style super hero comics. He draws monsters, demons and even Killer Croc in a monstrous way. At times his depictions of Lady Blaze and Dawn veered to far into the cheesecake realm. But on a whole, he knows how to render a dark and scary world for Batman to explore.

On the writing side, I’m pretty sure that this was Finch’s first project. His concepts made sense, but I really think he needed a co-writer for this. At times, the pacing was off and felt like he was trying to have too much going on.  I guess the good thing about him writing and drawing the book is that he knows what to script to play to his artistic strengths. I wonder if his future projects involve in that regard.

Since this was a collected volume, they threw in some extras. Finch teamed up with Grant Morrison for Batman: The Return which is a great story of Batman setting up his Batman, Inc. super hero franchise. Now that I think about it, I would really like to see more Morrison/Finch Batman stuff. The final extra is a two-page story from Superman/Batman #75 with Conner Kent and Daman Wayne in the future paying tribute to the men who preceded them as Superman and Batman.

Golden Dawn is beautifully rendered; there is no questioning that. But I think the audience of this is a little narrow, mostly to Finch fans. So if you’re one of his fans–or appreciate dark, horror comic art you will love this.

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.

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.

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

Arrow Season 1 Episode 9: “Year’s End”

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“Year’s End” should have been re-titled “Oliver Has The Worst Christmas Ever.” With stepfather Walter missing (presumably abducted by the mysterious cabal that the Queens were involved with since he found the wreckage of the yacht), Oliver decides he wants to bring the Christmas spirit back to Starling City, starting at his own home.

To cheer up his mother Moira and sister Thea, Oliver organizes an over the top Christmas party at the mansion. Great ideas like this never seem to ever turn out just right; Moira is just too depressed to deal with this, Thea is too busy trying to make out with her creepy boyfriend, and best friend Tommy is there with his new girlfriend (and Oliver’s ex) Dinah.

So needless to say, a spotting of a copy cat archer (who has also been targeting people on the list) is reported Oliver is more than happy to duck out on the party. Unfortunately, this new archer (who has taken some fashion cues from baseball pitcher Brian Wilson’s pal the Machine) is not only more lethal but far more brutal than Oliver expected. Thanks to some help covering up what happened with Diggle, Oliver is admitted to the hospital to spend the holidays recovering and pondering how he’s going to stop this new uber-archer.

This episode originally aired in the middle of December, right before the Christmas hiatus most shows go through. It was a great point to have a break in the story, as it sets up a new direction for the series.I’m still wondering if the antagonist is none other than Tommy taking up the Merlyn character from the comics. I guess we’ll find out.

Arrow Season 1 Episode 6: “Muse of Fire”

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This just might have been the best episode of the show to date. It’s awesome even though it has the Royal Flush Gang paying a visit!

The episode starts out with Diggle urging Oliver to expand his extra-curricular activities in Starling City to things that are not necessarily stated on the list. And a highly skilled team of bank robbers wearing a deck of playing card inspired body armor seems like the perfect thing for a bow-and-arrow carrying archer to get involved with.

Because this is an action/drama, it can’t be that similar. It turns out that this gang is a family of former Queen Corp employees at a factory that was outsourced and left them unemployed. How they all became extremely well trained para-military types escapes me, but that’s beside the point. But still, they mentioned to put a twist on the villains that would make sense.

Oliver is torn with what to do. He feels partly responsible for what has happened to them, since his father screwed them over royally. Oliver even tries—as himself and not the archer—to track them down and talk some sense into them. And unfortunately they don’t heed his words. The father is killed during a robbery by a security guard who was saved by the vigilante. So at least Oliver’s Q rating went up.

What I liked about this episode was that it showed that there is a bit more to Oliver other than his vengeful side, that he legitimately wanted to help the Royal Flush Gang since his family prospered at their expense.

Arrow Season 1 Episode 5: “Damaged”

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I’ve finally gotten a chance to catch up on everything I’ve missed in Arrow! Aren’t DVRs amazing? This episode starts out with Oliver on trial for being the archer vigilante. And who does Oliver choose to be his lawyer? None other than Laurel, his ex-girlfriend whose father happens to be the lead detective on the case and blames him for the death of his other daughter.  That sounds like a great idea.

This episode is pretty funny to me, in the sense that Oliver  is so calm during the whole proceedings. I mean, he is the vigilante and everyone is convinced he is but he couldn’t care any less. He’s also plotting to take down a European weapons dealer at the same time.

How does he do it?

Oliver is much smarter than everyone gives him credit for, helping Laurel build a partially true defense that he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from his time on the island as well as revealing that he was tortured by what appears to be Deathstroke the Terminator (whose costume doesn’t look as good as I was hoping) as well as him being too inept to do be a vigilante.

He better give Laurel a nice thank you gift, as the combination of his bodyguard Diggle posing as the archer while he was in court and him being able to beat a lie detector test with her defense gets him off the hook. There’s an odd scene at the end where Laurel insinuates that she knows he is the vigilante, but I don’t know if it was just me.

On the Queen family front, relationships between Moira and stepfather Walter keeps getting strained, as he wonders about all the shady activities she has been involved with of late.

Birds of Prey Volume 1: The Team Where Everyone Is A Bird

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I guess I’ve always been a fan of Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey work. Not that I’ve been a regular reader, but when I find the odd trade at the library or over a friend’s place, I’ll give it a quick read. Birds of Prey Volume 1: Endrun became my prey, as it featured Hawk and Dove—by now you know that they are two of my favorites—joining up with the team of avian-themed lady crime-fighters.

There is a lot going on in this collection, ranging from a new villain from Black Canary’s past attempting to ruin her life all the while forming an uneasy alliance with the Penguin as the group are all considered to be fugitives of the save. There’s even a subplot with Oracle and two reformed criminals going on.

I guess the best part of this would be Birds of Prey #6, where Huntress fights Lady Shiva in a duel to the death with Huntress. The JLU cartoons really showed how awesome this character could be, and Simone’s take on the character is very similar. It’s a shame the Helena Bertinelli iteration of this character disappeared with the New 52.

Hawk and Dove didn’t get as much story time as I would have liked, but it worked. They’re pretty much brought into this story line to be supporting characters. Nothing to complain about there.

In all, it was a quick read. There’s lot of fighting scenes in this book; it’s a bit action packed. And if you like that, you should give this a try.

Batman Arkham City: I Know I’m Late To The Party But This Is Still Awesome

batman-arkham-citySo this might be the last review of Batman: Arkham City you will ever read. It’s taken me quite a long time to get to a point where I felt comfortable reviewing the game–almost a year later! So what took so long?

The truth is that Arkham City is one of the best–if not the best–super hero video games I’ve ever played. But that said, there’s a lot of skill and patience required that makes the playing a little manic. A few of the missions where your running around Gotham City beating up prisoners are deceptively easy. But then some of the tasks, like carefully navigating the flight of a batarang to go through two separate windows or pick-pocketing security guards with Catwoman, are super challenging to the point where you give up on the game for a few weeks until you get the confidence to pick it up again.

The story of the game is pretty straightforward and ties into the last game (Arkham Asylum). Part of Gotham City has been turned into an isolated prison by evil psychologist Hugo Strange and his private army, with super villains and gang members running amok. It’s up to Batman to not only keep the prisoners and citizens stuck in the Arkham district safe while uncovering the nefarious origin of this prison colony. Meanwhile, he’s in a race to save himself, as he was infected with the blood of a terminally ill Joker. Just a typical day in the life of Batman, with him going up against pretty much every villain of note in his rogue’s gallery.

Like I said earlier, the game play has a very quick learning curve but manages to be extremely challenging at the same time. It’s really addictive and there is a sense of accomplishment when you complete the various challenges.

On the visual side, it’s amazing. There’s so much detail in the game that the setting and environment itself is just as fun to explore as the game is to play. There’s a nice feature in the game, as Batman’s uniform gets more distressed and dirty as the game progresses.

Only adding to how great this game is its connection to Batman: The Animated Series, as the show’s mastermind Paul Dini wrote the game, and Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill respectively resume their voice work for Batman and the Joker.

Once the game was beaten, I realized that was only the tip of the iceberg. Not only do you have the chance to go back and finish any side missions you passed on, but there is additional game stories and the ability to add Catwoman, Robin and Nightwing into the mix as downloadable content, it seems like I’ll be playing this game for another year.

This really was the gift that kept on giving!

 

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.

Friday Fights #19: Flash vs. Quicksilver

flash-vs-quicksilverCould Quicksilver beat the Flash? In the 1996 crossover, the scarlet speeder was able to very quickly (no pun intended) dispatch Magneto’s son in a hurry (pun intended). But was that what would really happen if these two were to get into a fight?

Let’s look at their top speeds. Flash can travel at the speed of light; Quicksilver can only break the speed of sound. This gives the Flash the advantage, as he’s still quicker than his opponent, without going full tilt. And being one step ahead of Quicksilver is certainly an advantage and probably the deciding factor if these two were to be in combat.

But if the two of them were in an even fight, with Quicksilver not being able to use his mutant power and the Flash  not being able to tap into the Speed Force, things would be a little different. Flash seemingly doesn’t have any significant hand-to-hand combat training, and I’m sure that Quicksilver has, being part of all the black ops teams he’s been a part of over the year.

So we’ll say it this way:  in a race and the open world, the Flash. In a boxing ring, Quicksilver.

 

Superman #64: Metropolis Mailbag

superman-64With Christmas rapidly approaching, let’s look at some great comic books dealing with the holiday. Our first stop is Superman #64, which has the man of steel trying to make some Christmas miracles for the people of Metropolis.

Dan Jurgens sets up this story by having Superman at the post office reading all the mail that gets sent to him over the course of the year.

Although much of the letters he receives are praising him for what he has done to help the world, many of them of how he inspires everyday people. But some of the letters are asking for his direct assistance. So Superman does the only thing that’s natural to him.

He helps people. Whether it be helping reunite elderly Holocaust survivors or hitting up a certain wealthy Gotham City business-man to fund an event for poor city children and their families, complete with Santa Claus and a flying reindeer sleigh.

The story is a perfect reminder of why Superman is such a great character. He may be the most powerful person on the planet but what makes his so super is how dedicated he is to helping others.

Superman #7-8: Superman vs. Helspont

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As much as Rob Liefeld and the rest of the Image Comics gang made a mark on my comics reading during the early 1990s, but so did Superman. Between my brother and I, we had every issue of the four Superman monthly series till right around the Death of Superman era. So needless to say, a comic book story having Superman face off against Helspont would get my attention, but with art by Dan Jurgens (who was THE Superman artist during that period but in my mind) this was definitely something I had to check out.

The story is two-fold. Superman has to deal with being abducted and harassed by Helspont. This evil Daemomite seems to have been elevated to big time player in the New 52, between this and all of his exposure in other books.

Helspont is trying to appeal to Superman in attempt to join forces; having the last Kryptonian on his side would make his plans for domination much easier.The villain also brings the point up that eventually mankind will betray him, as they fear his power and the threat of his rule. And this leads to a moral debate between the two, with Superman turning down the offer as he loves the people of Earth. I guess it shows that for all the differences between the past and the modern DC universe, Superman is still the same, costume changes be damned. The humanity that Ma and Pa Kent taught him really shaped his values. Superman’s life is destined to walk among the humans, helping them when he has to because he’s the only person who can help them.

As Superman is fighting for his freedom, there are some subplots going on with Clark Kent’s coworker friends at the Daily Planet. He was supposed to pick up Lois Lane’s sister Lucy at the airport, but the whole Helspont ordeal had him preoccupied. At the same time, Jimmy Olsen is moving into Clark’s apartment on a temporary basis, as his place is filled with bedbugs.

What you had in these two issues was a Superman that I was really familiar with. Jurgens knows how to draw and write a Superman comic book. So does his co-writer Keith Giffen, as he certainly knows how to write compelling super heroes outside of their costumes; see his JLI/E/A stuff for example. The result is a Superman that is still very new, but completely familiar at the same time.

New Man of Steel Trailer

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Move over Rudolph! There’s something else to get you glued to your television (or YouTube viewer of choice) with the latest trailer for Man of Steel. So what did you think?

Well for one, it makes me feel old. Seeing Kevin Costner and Russel Crowe cast as Superman’s respective human and Kryptonian fathers is a little alarming. I remember it wasn’t too long ago when both of them were always on the top of Hollywood’s most beautiful celebrity lists. And now they’re old enough to play old parents. Eep. But anyway, I like the look Zack Snyder picked for the film. I just hope the final film is more about what it’s like being Superman than Superman fighting everything in his path.

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.

Hawkman #9

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Hawkman is one of those characters that on the surface seems like he could be really fun to read, but unfortunately years (and years) of crazy continuity make it a daunting task. I picked up Hawkman #9 because of Rob Liefeld, but it was the creative team as a whole that made me enjoy the book so much.

Co-written by Mark Poulton, it starts off a new story arc for Hawkman. As someone who really isn’t up on the character, it was pretty straightforward to get into. Carter Hall has the magical Nth metal armor, except this version has it originating from inside him like the Guyver. Possessing such a weapon makes him quite the target, as he keeps getting harassed by mercenaries trying to forcibly remove his armor. The issue ends with Carter speaking with Emma, a female friend and colleague of his. This wraps up rather quickly as they get attacked; Carter is kidnapped by an “antiquities”/weapons dealer who wants the armor named Xerxes.

The art on this book is by Joe Bennet is pretty sweet; I always seem to forget about him and his projects. This was a quick but fun read. I’ll probably finish the arc at some point later on.

Arrow Season 1 Episode 4: “An Innocent Man”

arrow-episode-4 “An Innocent Man” was a good episode. Probably a great episode just for the Moira subplot alone, but we’ll talk about that later.

This episode had Oliver as the Green Arrow teaming up with Laurel to get an innocent man off of death row, as he was framed for a crime by one of the businessmen on Oliver’s father’s vengeance list. This accomplishes two things for Oliver: another target can be dealt with and somehow he can start rebuilding his relationship with Laurel, albeit as a vigilante. As this goes on, Laurel’s detective father tells her she shouldn’t get involved with the archer, as he’s just as dangerous and violent as the criminals on the street. And unfortunately for Oliver although he did free the wrongly convicted guy, he did prove Laurel’s dad right about how prone he is to violence. Unfortunately, there’s some grainy video footage of Oliver armed with a quiver that leads to his arrest for allegedly being the vigilante terrorizing the criminals of Starling City.

The episode also dealt with the fallout from the previous episode, as Diggle has recovered and wants nothing to do with Oliver’s archer vigilante-ism. Diggle winds up quitting working for the Queen family as a result, but doesn’t snitch on Oliver. There’s also a bunch of flashbacks in this episode to Ollie’s time on the island, where the Asian man who was protected him forces him to kill animals to survive. These scenes were a little creepy and unsettling.

Throughout the episode, Oliver’s stepfather Walter is investigating some weird financial records in the company. It turns out that his wife Moira (Oliver’s mom) had purchased an aircraft hangar. When Walter goes to investigate it, he finds the wreckage of the sunken Queen family yacht that was assumed to be lost at sea. The ending cuts to Moira on the phone with an unnamed man about how all the business men that are being targeted and wonder if it has anything to do with her deceased husband turning over the list of evil business people to the vigilante.

If this isn’t a cliffhanger ending, then I don’t know what is. Oliver is in jail for being the vigilante and his mother is responsible for the shipwreck that killed his father. And the next episode has Deathstroke in it!