Saturday, November 21, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
After spending an afternoon thinking about it, I'm fairly certain the one-time Batman, Inc creative team of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham produced the all-around best story of the lot, in the form of the cleverly entitled eight-page story "Detective #26." Essentially just a joke story, featuring the origin of an embryonic "mystery man" named "The Silver Ghost" who was just about to debut as Gotham City's much-needed champion at a chemical factory.
The Slithery, the eel monster introduced last issue, has apparently just been collecting Mutant Town children, and it adds the Turtles to its collection. For some reason, it stores everyone in a weird slime web evocative of the alien larder from Aliens.
The arc begins in media res, with Thor and Captain Marvel trapped "somewhere else," engaged in constant battles that distract them from their goal or rescuing Doctor Strange from a far off mountain. Something is clearly wrong, as their eyes repeatedly turn run when they are fighting, and their opponents will all be familiar to Marvel fans: The Mindless Ones, Zzutak, Taboo and some really strange creatures I didn't recognize, but whose design was extremely cool.
Meanwhile, Iron Man (in a neat new stealth suit), Captain America, Black Panther and Black Widow all try to keep Count Nefaria (dressed in his most supervillain-like outfit, the one with the big, dumb "N" on his belt) from stealing a special museum piece which, when united with magical ruby he already has his hands on, will form a super magic maguffin that will allow him to summon an army of monsters and warriors from within the gem—including Thor, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange, who we gradually learn are actually trapped inside it.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
He saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, Conquer By This.
After the events of the the third volume, The War of The Vampires, Robbie's not so sure about his Ghost Rider gig, and is ready to give it up for good after a strange, evil disembodied voice comes out of his hellcharger—not that of his late, serial killer uncle Eli, but a new, different evil disembodied voice—threatening his little brother.
Turning to his super friends, Robbie hopes they can perform an exorcism on his car and free him of the his Ghost Rider curse, and they call in a specialist, The Son of Satan/Daimon Hellstrom, whom Caselli draws in a terrible new design that includes a bald head, pointy-ears and a long-red goatee sans mustache (To be fair, I don't know if this design is Caselli's, or that of a previous artist who drew Hellstrom in the recent past. Whatever the case, it's far from his original and best look).
The results of the ritual are to 1) Send Robbie and his car to Hell, where current king of hell and former Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze challenges Robbie to a race, and 2) Release the mysterious spirit from the car into the Avengers Mountain itself which, remember, is built within the body of a dead Celestial.
As the action in the mountain resolves itself, the identity of the mysteriously powerful spirit is revealed, and it won't come as much of a surprise to anyone who looked at the cover before reading the book: It's the so-called Cosmic Ghost Rider, writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw's surprisingly popular creation. I say "surprisingly" simply because CGR is just a blending of a couple of different characters. He's an alternate universe version of The Punisher, Frank Castle, who has bonded with the spirit of vengeance to become an alternate universe version of Ghost Rider, and he has The Silver Surfer's power cosmic. So "What if...The Punisher was also Ghost Rider, with Silver Surfer's powers...?", basically (Unfortunately, he's not as ridiculous looking as he sounds; he doesn't ride a flaming surfboard, for example, but a simple flying space motorcycle).
Having never read any previous appearances of the character—Cosmic Ghost Rider, Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History, Revenge of The Cosmic Ghost Rider—I was quite surprised to find that he's basically just a Marvel Universe answer to DC's Lobo, at least as Aaron writes him here. His personality is not anything at all like any Frank Castle I've ever read. Instead he's loud-mouthed, belligerent, flippant and incredibly chatty. I half-expected him to say "frag" at any moment (The fact that he can go toe-to-toe with the universe's strongest heroes, rides a flying space motorcycle that comes when he calls it and fights with a chain only solidifies the resemblance).
So while Robbie races against Johnny across the landscape of Hell, with Johnny cheating as much as possible and Robbie receiving aid from all the Ghost Riders past (many of whom, I have to assume, appeared in Aaron's earlier Ghost Rider run), until the Avengers come to a detente with CGR and descend to Hell in order to aid Robbie in his race.
It's as over-the-top crazy as one would expect, given the previous four volumes of Aaron's Avengers, and I liked Caselli's take on all of the characters (Hellstrom aside) quite a bit. Caselli doesn't seem to have hit any plateau, as his art generally looks better each time I see it.
The book ends with what looks like a preview of what's to come, featuring Iron Man stuck in the distant, prehistoric past (Iron Man was off on his own while the others all dealt with the Ghost Rider business), and then a reprinting of Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore's All-New Ghost Rider #1 from the short-lived monthly introducing the Reyes version of the character. It's a somewhat odd inclusion, given that this is the fifth volume of the Avengers comic in which Reyes is one of the main characters, and presumably curious fans would have sought out All-New Ghost Rider Vol. 1 some time ago, but hell, reprints save Marvel money by adding to the page count of the their trade paperback collections, so what are you going to do...?
In this story, there appears to be a male Neanderthal and a caveman who are in love, named Vnn and Brrkk (I woulda named them "Adm" and "Stv", because I'm an asshole). They have found a special garden and are happy there...until The Deviants from Jack Kirby's Eternals comics invade. One of the pair of of prehistoric men dies, the other becomes Earth's second Starbrand, following the heels of the first, who was a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
After that issue, Ed McGuinness returns to draw the collection's four remaining issues. It is about as pure a "fight comic" as you can get, with Aaron himself seemingly finding some of the set-up boring, and skipping past a few key scenes to go from Point A to Point C.
Gladiator's people detect a huge swathe of destruction ravaging planets throughout a prison galaxy and the mohawked, caped strongman goes to investigate, leaving instructions to call The Avengers if he doesn't return in a given amount of time. He doesn't, and so Captain America recruits Black Widow to join himself, Thor, Hulk, Captain Marvel, Ghost Rider, Blade and Boy-Thing for a space adventure (Black Panther stays behind on Earth, searching for the now-lost Iron Man).
The source of the destruction is, of course, the birth of the latest Starbrand. Gladiator wants to find and kill said Starbrand. So too do Silver Surfer, Terrax and Firelord, referred to collectively as "The Heralds" The Avengers have to fight their way through the prison galaxy and then fight all those guys in order to get to and save the Starbrand, an Earthling whose reveal is unexpected in a couple of ways.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
I didn't do the math this time, so I'm not sure how much of DC's comic book-comics this month will be taken over by Future State, but it seems to be quite comparable to January, with future issues of the same books that weren't part of Future State being solicited this month, as well as a handful of intriguing original graphic novels I didn't mention at all and a couple of cool-looking trade collections.
Anyway, here's what jumped out at me, aside from Brian Bolland's fantastic cover for Future State: Dark Detective #4, of course...
The day is obviously eventually saved, by Hal Jordan, who was then Parallax and rather fresh off his mad attempt to de-create all of time and space and then recreate it without the destruction of Coast City in Zero Hour. He does it, but at the cost of his life. This collection includes Parallax: Emerald Night #1 (by Ron Marz and Mike McKone) and Green Lantern #81, so the focus here is on the main series and its plot, but, if I recall correctly, most of the best bits of the crossover occurred in the many tie-ins. (GL #81, by the way, was the funeral of Hal Jordan, and it included a then very rare appearance of Swamp Thing and John Constantine in the DCU).
—A League of Her Own, Nightwing Rising) comics lately with Superman ones next, judging by Superman Adventures: Lex Luthor, Man of Metropolis. That is, publishing thematic collections. This will feature five issues culled from the 1996-2002 all-ages companion series to Superman: The Animated Series. These issues all feature Luthor prominently, obviously, and will include some unlikely writing credits, like Mark Millar, Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer.
—1978's All-New Collector's Edition, 1981-1982's DC Comics Presents #33, #34 and #49, 1984's DC Comics Presents Annual #3—this new volume is about 50 pages longer, and contains some far newer material. These are 1997's Kingdom Come #4, 1999's The Power of Shazam #46 by Jerry Ordway and Dick Giordano and 2005's Superman #216, in which Judd Winick has an Captain Marvel combat an Eclipso-possessed Superman, in a repeat of a plot point from the 1992 annual event, Eclipso: The Darkness Within. I'm not sure what the providence of the new Andy Kubert cover is (the 2013 volume used Rich Buckler's cover from the Collector's Edition), and I'm curious if it's a new, original piece or not.