Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Weekly Haul: The Week Dan DiDio and Joe Quesada Conspired To Make Sure I Didn't Have Any Money Left Over For Food

Avengers: The Initiative #16 (Marvel Comics) If the war between the Skrull Empire and Earth’s superheroes has seemed a little claustrophobic in the pages of Secret Invasion—confined, for the most part, to the usual battleground of Manhattan, plus a skirmish in the Savage Land—Dan Slott and Christos N. Gage have certainly opened up the conflict in the pages of this title. This time out they reveal just how deeply the Skrulls have infiltrated The Initiative (at least one on all 50 teams), meet another of the state teams in Arizona’s Maverick and are promised to meet Nevada’s team next issue (When oh when will it be Ohio’s turn?)

As the cover promises, this issue sees the new 3-D Man joining forces with the Skrull Kill Krew to, um, kill Skrulls. We also check in with Crusader in Manhattan, and Skrullowjacket and Ant-Man back at Camp Hammond.

It’s hardly essential reading, but the title continues to do what it’s done best—focus on the Marvel Universe’s lesser-known lights while introducing new characters—while also making the Skrull’s invasion of earth actually seem like a global rather than neighborhood threat.

Batman: Gotham After Midnight #4 (DC Comics) When we last left Batman, he was in some crazy robot battlesuit preparing to duke it out with a giant Clayface. In this, the “freaky 4th issue” of Steve Niles and Kelley Jones’ year-long series, we get to the actual duking it out.

This issue was an awful lot of fun, although it’s probably safe to say that if you don’t have any affection for Jones’ exaggerated style, you’re not going to be won over here. In fact, this issue contains a scene of Bruce Wayne in his civilian clothes, going to a fundraiser where everyone’s supposedly dressed up, and it’s devoid of monstrous villains, masked people, gargoyles, graves, caves and church steeples. That is, it plays to Jones’s weaknesses rather than his strengths. For example, character Lieutenant Clarkson shows up and is supposed to be dynamite looking, but she’s proportioned like Jessica Rabbit*, and is wearing the same sort of red, sequined dress as Ms. Rabbit, only skimpier, so she looks pretty damn ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as Midnight does when he enters the room, with such velocity he seems to have been shot out of a cannon positioned right outside the door.

But the most important thing is that Batman pilots a giant robot battlesuit to fight a giant-sized Clayface. Batman’s giant robot suit is a very weird kind of contraption, all torso and arms, mounted on a long, telescoping, snake-like trunk atop what looks to be a single wheel. I really like Jones’ designs for Batman’s various gadgets and vehicles, as there tends to be a bit of zaniness to them, and this is one zany giant robot.

DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1 (DC) Well, this certainly is a comic written by Brad Meltzer.

The marks of the Identity Crisis/JLoA writer’s works are all here:

—Every scene is given first-person narration, which appears in a color-coded narration box; however, some spoken dialogue also appears in color-coded narration boxes, with nothing to distinguish what’s said out loud or in a character’s head aside from the context.

—The DC Universe is a really, really small place, about the size of your average high school, wherein everyone seems to know everyone. For example, Challenger of the Unknown Rocky and Outsider Grace Choi both know “Gar Logan,” and both know that the other knows Gar Logan. Or Geo-Force knows the state of Golden Age Air Wave’s radio equipment, because some birds that Black Canary asked Hawkman to send to him mentioned it.

—The events are laughably, practically Grand Guignol gory (at one point, Geo-Force attempts suicide by slitting his own throat).

—The story is obsessed with a very particular point in history of DC Comics—the early ‘80s period in which Brad Meltzer was apparently a devoted DC comics reader—to the exclusion of all else.

And, of course, there are continuity problems. And I mean “continuity problems” in every sense of the word: matching up with the other contemporary comics this story references, adhering to the established history of the characters, and even, thanks to pencil artist Adam Kubert, visual continuity problems in the panel-to-panel action.

The gist of the story is that it’s the end of the world—no, for real this time!—and the characters of the DC Universe are spending it telling their loved one’s goodbye (kind of like the bulk of the Final Night tie-ins, actually). Most of these vignettes don’t make any sense in the context of Final Crisis, which is delivering the apocalypse the characters here are reacting too. Batman and Wonder Woman were already taken by the dark gods before it was clear the world might be ending, Superman was unable to leave Lois’ side in the hospital because his heat vision was keeping her alive, Hal Jordan was taken for trial on Oa, Wally West was racing Death with Barry Allen—and yet they’re all here, spending time with their loved ones.

The timing of the apocalypse seems off as well, as in Final Crisis #3, it seemed to happen all at once: a mass e-mail containing the Anti-Life Equation was sent out, and then the next thing you know, Darkseid had conquered earth off-panel (Final Crisis actually skips that moment, with the Flashes running into the future to see the already conquered world).

The end of the world, and the heroes saying goodbye to it, are only part of the story, however. The main thrust deals with how Geo-Force wants to spend his last day on earth: killing Deathstroke, The Terminator for corrupting and killing his little sister Terra.

That happened waaaayyyyy back in 1984, by the way. Twenty-four years ago. Why Geo-Force wants to tackle Deathstroke now, instead of all those other times it was even more clear the world was definitely ending for real this time (Infinite Crisis, JLA: World War III, Final Night, Zero Hour, etc.) isn’t exactly clear. Nor is it clear why Geo-Force thinks it was Deathstroke who killed Terra. After all, another girl named Terra who looked like, acted like, and had the same powers as his sister appeared in the DCU after Zero Hour (She debuted in 1992’s Team Titans, and Zero Hour re-ordered reality in 1994, and she then joined the regular Titans team) and Geo-Force learned via DNA test that she was in fact his sister Terra somehow resurrected (in 2000’s The Titans Secret Files & Origins Special #2, in a story co-written by occasional Meltzer collaborator Geoff Johns), and then she was killed in last year’s World War III, by Black Adam, not Deathstroke (whom, by the way, has a Wolverine-like healing factor that can bring him back to life after he’s been clinically dead anyway, as revealed in his own series, although maybe Geo-Force doesn’t know that).

But hell, if they’re not even going to bother making sure this thing makes sense when lined up against book’s published this month (FC #3), or even this week (Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1) then why worry about if it makes sense when lined up against past stories? It is one of those things that just boggles my mind about the stories Meltzer wants to tell and DC apparently wants him to tell: I’m sure “Judas Contract” was a big deal and is fondly remembered, but it was 24 years ago—Who gives a shit now? Certainly (hopefully?) far fewer people then are reading Final Crisis. Because if more of your readers are interested in a 24-year-old comic than what you’ve published since and are currently trying to sell them, well then, maybe you’re not doing such a hot job of selling comics.

While there are some obvious problems with this as both a piece of comics-scripting and as a piece of DC’s current line-wide storyline, it certainly plays to Meltzer’s strengths. If Final Crisis really is the story of “the day evil won,” then who better to write a tie-in than the guy who wrote the only story in which evil actually won one in the DCU? (As has been repeatedly pointed out, every day in DC comics is the day that evil wins—right up until good turns the tide. Stopping to think about it, the only time evil really seems to have won out over good in a DC comic was Identity Crisis.) It’s dark and depressing, with Geo-Force spending part of the issue contemplating murder, part of it contemplating suicide, and then attempting both (and failing at both).

Most of the narration and dialogue was maudlin and predictably purple, like the work of a slightly less verbose Chris Claremont (“My name is Brion Markov. I am the prince of Markovia. Here are several more short descriptive sentences about myself and my powers and my motivations.”), but it also had its moments, particularly in big ending battle, and, thanks to the art team, this was head and shoulders above Metlzer’s last DC work, on JLoA, where he had the lead weights of Ed Benes’ poorly rendered, cheesecake-filled, background-free art dragging his every panel down.

Much of the art here is by Adam Kubert and, because he draws so damn slow, Kubert gets a fill-in artist to help out, and it’s the best damn fill-in artist a Kubert boy could hope for—father Joe Kubert.

The junior Kubert pulls off at least one really great sequence (perhaps thanks in part to Meltzer’s script), when Deathstroke first pins Geo-Force against the dumpster without even seeming to move. But it’s the senior Kubert that makes this thing truly worthwhile. He pencils (and inks? And lays-out?) several scenes featuring some of the superhero icons of the DCU, in their modern appearances, giving a too-rare look at one of the medium’s masters tackling the big characters: Wonder Woman and Donna Troy on their knees in a cemetery; Batman, Robin and Nightwing striking Batman #1-style poses, Green Lantern taking off in flight and Captain Cold being forced into doing a good deed.

But that’s just me. You might want to check out colleague Troy Brownfield’s review, as it’s far less bitter and rambling than mine.

The Family Dynamic #1 (DC) Oh look, it’s J. Torres and Tim Levins’ DOA new DC series, an all-ages adventure featuring original characters (and, by “original,” I mean “various analogues to already existent Marvel and DC superheroes”), which is apparently a Johnny DC comic, meaning it will be lucky to move 15K in the direct market.

I find this series’ existence a little baffling, to be honest; there’s absolutely no way this could turn into a hit, even if it turned out to be the greatest comic ever created, and it really just seems like a waste of the very talented creators’ time. I imagine a project like this would be much easier to turn a profit on with a smaller publishing company, or even self-published, then to have DC pump it out to die and disappear (Of course, having DC handle the production and publishing is obviously a lot easier on the creators, allowing them to focus on creation instead of production, publishing and marketing).

Anyway, this is not the best comic ever created.

It’s in no way a bad comic either, really. Levins’ pencils, inked by Dan Davis, are crisp and clear; the storytelling is easy to follow, and the character designs are strong (the superhero costumes are on the generic side, however). Batman, Teen Titans, Titans, JLoA—any of these books would be in much better shape under Levins and Davis.

The first few pages worth of story are kind of fun, with a few of the teenage characters needling each other, but then things get awfully bogged down by an extremely complicated story (I wonder if this is all on Torres, or if he was simply given too few issues to tell his story; I thought this was originally solicited to be longer, but I may be mistaken. Either way, three issues is an odd number for a miniseries, particularly one featuring new characters no one’s ever heard of).

Two generations of the title superhero group are introduced—they’re family foursomes with magic rings that give each of them a different elemental powers. There’s also a Wu Xing Clan referred to that I guess maybe one of the teens belongs to or something, some relatives of the title super-group who aren’t actually in the supergroup, Batman and Robin analogues (Blackbird and Littlewing) and a Superman analogue (The Defender). It’s a lot of explaining, really, so much so that the issue was ending before it seemed like any sort of story even ever started.

I’ll probably try at least one more issue, but the main thing I took away from this first one was simple confusion as to why anyone was even bothering with it—myself included. Pretty great art though, and it’s only $2.25 and it’s set in Canada, a place with few heroes who aren’t called Alpha Flight.

Fantastic Four: True Story #2 (DC) Paul Cornell and Horacio Domingues’ second issue isn’t quite as fun and funny as their first, perhaps in large part because the FF are out of their own element (which Cornell had some clever and inspired takes on), and now thoroughly immersed in the “Fictoverse.” In this issue, the FF, Dante, and the Dashwood sisters of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility head for Ivanhoe to start rallying allies to make a stand against the mysterious evil forces ravaging the world of fiction. These include William Tell, Kubla Khan, Frankenstein’s Monster, Natty Bumppo, Dr. Faustus and…Othello? Meanwhile, the Marvel Universe-born Big Bad is assembling League of Extraordinary Gentlemen of his own: Dracula and his concubines! The Sherriff of Nottingham! Long John Silver! Some unnamed guys I didn’t recognize!

Oh, and this issue also features what has to be the dirtiest thing I’ve ever read in a Marvel comic (Page eight, panel two). I’ll scan and share it on Saturday, when I plan to have another super-sexy post.

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 (DC) Hey, it’s the only Final Crisis tie-in actually written by the writer of Final Crisis, so no surprise that this one both actually ties in to the events of the main series, it also does so in a logical way that doesn’t contradict anything. Huzzah!

This is Grant Morrison and the superb Final Crisis: Requiem art team of Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy picking up from the Superman-at-Lois’-bedside scene in FC #3.

This is at least the second time Mahnke and Alamy have shown up the main series artist J.G. Jones; in Requiem they delivered impressive splash pages that made Martian Manhunter’s funeral look like an event instead of a half-dozen mannequins set-up near one another, and here they clearly present and introduce the mysterious lady who appeared to Clark Kent in the hospital. In Jones’ FC #3, I thought she was supposed to be a Kryptonian, but here she is clearly a Monitor in her very first appearance.

The story is very Morrisonian, almost to the point of cliché; how awesome this is will likely depend on how big a fan of Morrison’s you are, particularly when he’s working in his apocalyptic superheroes-as-super-myths mode. The monitor lady freezes time, and then asks Superman to join her and her crew of alternate universe Superman on a voyage through the Multiverse in exchange for his heart’s desire. These others include Captain Marvel (Earth-5’s Superman), Ubermensch/Overman (from Earth-10), Ultraman (from wherever the Crime Syndicate’s from now), and a Doctor Manhattan-like quantum-powered Captain Atom (Earth-4). After crashing through several univeres, they end up in the Limbo of Morrison’s old Animal Man run, and Superman and Captain Marvel must try to “lift a book with an infinite number of pages.”

There’s a lot of screaming about the true nature of the universe/DCU/multiverse/reality, a vast cosmology of monitors and their monitor gods and evil winning, most of it hard to make sense out of. I assume, like a lot of Morrison’s work in this mode (JLA, Seven Soldiers) it will make a lot more sense once the story is finally all told.

In the meantime, there are always the inspired little touches to enjoy, like Superman’s “4-D Vision,” which is portrayed with one of his eyes glowing red, and the other green, like with 3-D glasses and hey, funny thing, portions of this book are in 3-D (a kind of irritating gimmick which doesn’t really add anything but novelty), Overman’s oath of “Grosse Krypton!”, and the current denizens of Limbo (I see New bloods Nightblade, Geist and maybe Gunfire, plus the good guy version of Chronos and…that’s all I got. A whole lot of shoulder pads there, though).

Justice Society of America #18 (DC) The never-ending story of Gog walking around continues, as the self-proclaimed god of the Third World takes on war in a way that Hawkman likes, which of course pretty much no one else does because Hawkman is a total asshole (Although I’m sure he has his fans who are fine, upstanding people. Even if their hero is a total jerk). Also, FDR’s descendent somehow gets killed right in front of KC-Superman (Ha ha, you suck KC-Superman!), and resurrected as the new Magog. This new Magog is totally nude, save for his helmet and left pectoral/arm sheathe. Will he put on a pair of pants, or serve Gog with his pee-pee visible to all? We’ll find out next issue!

Meanwhile, on Earth-2, cell phones are like a foot-and-a-half-long. Jesus, Earth-2 Michael Holt; if you were really so smart, you’d invent a cell phone that was smaller than your own head.

Marvel Adventures Avengers #27 (Marvel) Because despite their decades and decades in the business, Marvel apparently hasn’t quite gotten the hang of publishing comics just yet, every Marvel comic with the word “Avengers” in the title was released on a single Wednesday—New, Mighty, Avengers: The Initiative andMarvel Adventures. I’m surprised they didn’t have an issue of The Ultimates too.

I read three of those four Avengers books, and this was, in my personal opinion, by far the best, based on the fact that a) there were actual Avengers in it, b) there was something fun on every single page and c) it was exceptionally well-illustrated, by Ig Guara and Jacopo Camagni.

The book is actually divided into two short stories this time, both occurring at the same time, but involving different characters. In the opening, by Jeff Parker and Guara, Ant-Man, Storm, Spider-Man, Giant-Girl and Hulk are at a county fair acting as judges, but a Pym particle accident shrinks them all down to Ant-Man size. The only way to return to normal is to catch a pig.

In the back half, by writer Paul Tobin and penciler Camagni, Captain America and Iron Man are on a date (apparently, they’re in love in every continuitiverse) when the proceedings are interrupted by an evil spam ring lead by a trio of Marvel’s most awesome villains.

That’s right, the stories involve ham and spam. Thematic!

Marvel Adventures Super Heroes(Marvel) Remember that Robert Kirkman video manifesto from a few weeks back, in which he said a bunch of funny things? (Hey, wait a minute, shouldn’t a writer have to have a written manifesto?) One of those funny things was about how Marvel’s all-ages MA books talk down to kids to a certain extent. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Fred Van Lente pointed out that Kirkman must not have read many MA books if he thinks that, and I’m inclined to agree. In general, the only thing that separates these as “kids” books is that they have brighter, less murky coloring, are usually complete stories that don’t require you to read other books to mentally process, and are fun and funny instead of laughably serious. (Unless Kirkman is of the rather immature school of thought that drama is automatically more adult and mature than comedy, but he’s done enough work in both genres that I doubt he actually believes that).

That said, I think this new series by writer Paul Tobin and pencil artist Alvin Lee actually does skew younger than the rest of the line, something thrown into somewhat sharper relief by the fact that we got to read two Tobin-written MA stories back to back this week, and while his Avengers story was differentiated from a “616” one only by the fact that Brian Michael Bendis didn’t write it, this story has a more child-like innocence to it.

The Hulk, Iron Man and Spider-Man are hanging out as Avengers or teammates or fellow supeheroes so much as pals; the Hulk isn’t even angry here.

Of course, that doesn’t make the proceedings too juvenile for adults to enjoy, because, like revisiting Golden and Silver Age stories clearly written for eight-year-old boys, this simplicity takes on a sort of surreal comedy factor for grown-ups.

Anyway, in this issue, our trio go up into space to defeat some asteroids, who turn out to actually be Meteor Men, who are basically irritating frat boys made out of space-rock that are traveling the universe doing various space-extreme sports. Rather than fight them off, our heroes dissuade them from destroying earth by agreeing to go on a week-long extreme sports tour with them. Ultimately, however, they solve their problems with violence, beating on the Meteor Men until they promise to stay off earth.

I don’t know why, but I don’t really like the way Lee draws the Hulk’s face. I think it’s the nose, maybe?

The New Avengers #44 (Marvel) So, did you pick up this week’s issue of the flagship Avengers title expecting to read a story about the Avengers? Or maybe a single Avenger? Or, if the story’s not really about any actual Avengers, maybe at least see a cameo appearance by at least one of them?


This issue is nothing but Skrulls, on their Skrull planet, doing Skrull things. Another of those terrible, interminable flashback stories in which Brian Michael Bendis explains some minor aspect of Secret Invasion, this story is devoted to explaining the process by which the Skrulls figured out how to make themselves undetectable to Reed Richards’ science (and which Reed found away around anyway in the last issue of Secret Invasion. So we’ll probably get another full issue of an Avengers comic in which we learn how Reed counteracted this. Sigh…). Shouldn’t this have maybe been a line or two of dialogue in SI, or, if it had to be 22-pages long, maybe stuck in Secret Invasion: Frontline or something?

Billy Tan pencils, Matt Banning inks and Justin Ponsor colors, and while the art isn’t horrible, it’s not so great that it elevates a completely pointless over-examination of a minor plot point to the level of “worth $2.99.”

This week I actually remembered to tell my shop proprietors to kindly remove New Avengers from my pull-list. I guess I’ll check back if and when the crossover’s over…?

Runaways #1 (Marvel) Marvel’s teen team gets its third number one issue in just five years, this time coinciding with the debut of a brand-new creative team (The third creative team. But oddly, the original creative team had two #1’s, while the second creative team didn’t get one at all).

That new team is Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo, the post-Sean McKeever Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane) and Humberto Ramos (a whole bunch of comics). They’re apparently picking up right where Joss Whedon’s oft-delayed run ended, although I suppose the still-ongoing Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers actually falls between the end of the last volume and this particular issue.

The Runaways, complete with their time-lost new recruit, are returning to L.A. and looking for new digs and a source of money. Meanwhile, some aliens are looking for Karolina.

Moore does okay. The characters all seem like themselves, although none of them actually get much in the way of extensive panel-time, on account of everyone getting a few lines. I don’t know how this would actually read for a newcomer, as there’s little in the way of introduction to who everyone is, what their powers and relationships are, and what’s up with their parents.

What struck me about the issue though was how The Runaways have really lost their high-concept over the last few years. They began as the children of super-villains on the run from their parents and their legacies, sort of incidental superheroes in a post-Starman sense (no costumes, no codenames), and the series had a real generational conflict feel to it, something even Whedon was able to keep going.

With this issue, however, they seem like just any other random group of teenage superheroes. They still eschew codenames and costumes, but there’s nothing really special about them or their comic anymore; their story just continues here because that’s what happens to characters with powers in the Marvel Universe—their stories continue.

Ramos’ pencil art, inked by Danny Meikis and colored by Christina Strain, is a pretty big departure from the previous artists to work on the series. Ramos’ work is heavily anime/manga influenced, and more explosively cartoony in character design and acing. I think the style works quite well here though.

Confidential to Nico: While I’m no expert on California labor law, I’m pretty sure you don’t think you have to actually be 18 to secure some form of employment.

Confidential to Chase: Damn man, isn’t that coat hot in L.A. in the summer?

Superman #679 (DC) Krypto is probably the scariest character in the DCU—all the powers of Superman, in a dog!—and here he gets a pretty bad-ass, Geoff Johns-style, “Holy shit!” cliffhanger moment, as he comes in to take on Atlas after three other guys with S-shields on their chests have failed. Also, Lana Lang gets fired by Lex Luthor’s hologram, and Lois Lane jumps her husbands bones. I’m enjoying the new-ish James Robinson/Renato Guedes creative team’s run on the book, but it definitely seems like a book that is probably better experienced in a collected, trade format than serially.

Teen Titans: Year One #6 (DC) The somewhat delayed final issue of the best Teen Titans comic of the year, in which Amy Wolfram, Karl Kerschl and company reimagine some of the early adventures of the first four, moving elements and characters from their original first comics further up in time.

As a story set in the first year of Teen Titans history, this was great stuff—it was a lot of fun, the characters were sharply defined and, in some cases, given personalities they had previously lacked, and it was by far the best-looking Titans book in memory—but as a story with the words “Year One” in the title, it didn’t seem to do all that great a job of telling an origin story. That is, this wasn’t to the Titans what Batman: Year One was to Batman or anything.

This final issue was a rather slight story, with Robin facing an extremely predictable villain in a series of mostly silent sequences that made the 22 pages simply fly by. The ending was rather sweet, but the next issue box was depressing as all hell: “Follow their continuing adventures in Titans and read Teen Titans for a new group of adventurers.”

Yes, by all means, if you like the cartoony but emotive character designs and crisp artwork of this series, if you like the fun, humor-infused all-ages adventures of this series, you’re sure to not be completely appalled by the grotesque, juvenile, “sexy” art of whatever terrible artist can draw an issue or two of Titans, featuring the grown-up, badly continuity damaged characters you just got done reading about as indistinguishable paper cut-outs stuck in a cycle of fighting Trigon over and over again. Nor will you be completely disappointed in the next generation of Titans, and their dark, violent, “sexy” adventures stuck in an endless cycle of fighting various evil versions of themselves in Teen Titans, all drawn as human grotesqueries in a mid-‘90s WildStorm style, right down to improbably skimpy and out-of-touch teenage girl fashions.

No, actually, if you really enjoyed Teen Titans: Year One, you will be appalled and disappointed by the two “Year Now” titles. You might like Showcase Presents: Teen Titans and Tiny Titans though.

Now maybe if this creative team were allowed to take over one of those titles…

Trinity #13 (DC) Today in my shop, as I was counting how many goddam comics I had to make sure I could actually afford this many (and cursing DC and Marvel for each releasing 900 books on the same Wednesday), one customer was asking everyone else in the shop if they were still reading Trinity, and they had all dropped it.

That made me kind of sad. I could see why they might have dropped it after the third or fourth issue, when the slow nature of the plot became apparent—as with Kurt Busiek’s “Syndicate Rules” story during his extremely brief run as the “regular” writer on JLA, Trinity does seem to suffer a bit from spending too much time on the villains talking about their motivations; in the former, it was the bug-eyed space aliens talking politics and military strategy for 1/3 of each issue, here it’s the anti-Trinity going on and on about their plans—but I think it’s really picked up the last few issues. What makes me sad is the thought that DC editorial types might find that Trinity is selling worse than Countdown, and decide that the numbers mean readers would prefer a weekly that ties-in to a bunch of shit, no matter how horribly incompetently it’s produced, than a single, self-contained story by a single, quality creative team that is quite competently produced (if never exactly incandescent).

See, I’m sure DC’s going to do a fourth weekly, and I sure hope it looks more like Trinity than Countdown (I kinda hope they’ll go with an Amazing Spider-Man model, in which a “brain trust” of creators brainstorm a year-long story, the way the Superman and Batman offices used to do, and then have weekly story arcs rotating a couple different creative teams.)

Anyway, I like this book an awful lot. Over the past few issues, it’s been a bit like half an issue of JLoA (only by Busiek and Bagley instead of McDuffie and Benes), followed by half-an-issue of Birds of Prey or a Hawkman comic.

This week, Superman just wrecks Ultraman and Superwoman, Ray Palmer and Ryan “The Atom” Choi team-up with the Leaguers, and Superman makes a neat little speech enumerating another good reason not to kill your enemies. And, in the back-up, Oracle sends a small army of cameos against that foursome of silly villains that includes the gal gorilla with a crush on Nightwing.

Wolverine: First Class #6 (Marvel) Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “I’m the best at what I do. And what I do is-- WATCH HOCKEY! WHEN I feel like it! For as LONG as I feel like it! It’s my moral right as a Canadian.” If not, then you really oughta check out this issue of Wolverine: First Class, the very best of the 61 Wolverine comics Marvel publishes each month.

The cover here’s a little misleading, although Wolverine does east a snack off a popped claw in front a television set in one scene. Moira MacTaggart and the Muir Island mutants are visiting Chuck and the gang, but rather than go out with them, Wolvie opts to stay in and watch the Stanley Cup finals. Also staying in are Kitty, Siryn, Illyana and a mutant named Amp, whom I think is original to the series. Calamity and hilarity both ensue.

Writer Fred Van Lente’s set-up is a little more old-school and clunky than usual—“I wouldn’t worry, Peter, Kitty and Siryn—Banshee’s niece—and Amp, the girl from West Virgina who’s staying at Muir--” Chuck explains to the readers more than the characters—but by the third page thing start moving quite efficiently, with the girls getting into trouble and Wolvie having berserker rages triggered by unusual circumstances.

Quick question to old-school X-Men readers: It says here Kitty is 13-years-old, but she also already has a crush on Colossus, and I know they eventually have a relationship in comics. Was the Kitty/Colossus relationship creepy in the original comics, from the era that WFC is set in?

Oh man, I didn’t even notice there was a monkey variant of this issue available until I just went to to find a cover image to post. Damn; it was one of the good monkey variants, too.

Ultimate Spider-Man #125 (Marvel) Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Venom and Ultimate Beetle all fight each other, some evil doctor types (including Ultimate Vulture?) and Ultimate Silver Sable and Ultimate Wild Pack do some evil stuff in an evil lab, Stuart Immonen remains awesome.

*Helpful hint: Don’t every google-image “Jessica Rabbit.” No good will come of it.


James said...

Confidental to Caleb Mozzocco: In California if you're under 18, you need a parent's permission in order to get a work permit, unless of course you're emancipated.

What'd you think of Blue Beetle? I think Sturges is doing a really good job so far and Albuquerque keeps getting better. I especially liked the bit where the scarab went over his options on dealing with the baddies.

Patrick C said...

Teen Titans: Year One also flew by because it was only 19 pages instead of 22. For the same price! So months late and pages short, disappointing.

About Last Will and Testament, I notice it didn't get the Final Crisis trade dress. It was DCU: Last Will and Testament. So it could be an all purpose 'last day of the world' story, just pretend it happens at the penultimate moment of whatever story you happen to be reading at the time.

And how easy is it to get to Challengers Mountain? How long has Rocky been a reverend? They really built a confessional there? I spend way too much time into the DCU, and to be honest the thought of traveling to Challengers Mountain to pour my heart out to Rocky Davis never occurred to me.

And I hate comics with 3D glasses. I can't bring myself to cut them out, so I'm just stuck trying to figure out what's going on in 2D.

James said...

That's why you buy 2 copies!

tomorrowboy 2.9 said...

Yes the relationship between Kitty and Colossus was that creepy in the olden days. I just read Essential X-men 4 and 5 and kitty maybe turns 14 during those comics, whereas colossus is old enough to drink (so like 18? 19?).
It's skeevey enough as is, but then! When Colossus hooks up with some girl his own age in Secret Wars (off panel) _every_ other x-man is like "you broke her heart peter, you have to go back to her." She's 14! She'll get over it! Stop encouraging creepy relationships!

I think I actually dislike that most about Whedon's run, because it seems sort of sad that Kitty ends up with some dude she had a crush on when she was 13 (imagine if that happened to you! I mean, I'd end up going out with...Kitty Pryde...).

When she's generally shown as being "grown up and sensible" it's kinda sad that Whedon couldn't show her as someone that could move on.

Laplace Zombie said...

I just want to tell the world to avoid Teen Titans 62 like the plague.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Add me to the list of people who are enjoying Trinity--a short list, I know. It's a shame that Final Crisis is competing with it for DC fans' eyeballs, as I'm connecting with Trinity much more (not that FC doesn't have my interest). It has sort of an old school, early 80s vibe to it, in a good way. We Trinity fans really should help out the cause and plug this book to our fellow comic book fans as vigorously as possible.

As for the Superman Beyond glasses, I shouldn't need to cut them out. I'll use the glasses my daughter picked up at Walmart to see the Hanna Montana 3D movie on Disney Channel instead. Ha!

Matt D said...

It's pretty telling that Marvel's two best titles are Incredible Hercules and Wolverine: First Class, right?

Also, it almost amazes me how good Trinity has gotten over the last month.

And I expected way more amusement out of the Meltzer review.

I didn't get to Superman yet, but from what you're saying it ALMOST seems like there's another DC Editorial disconnect between what's happening in Superman/Batman and Superman re: Lana.

John Cochrane said...

I was mildly interested in Last Will and Testament due to Hourman being on the cover, but thanks to your (and others') review, I will steer clear.

SallyP said...

I read DC Universe: Last Will & Testament, and I had pretty much the same reaction that you did. It didn't really seem to make a whole lot of sense, at least not quite yet in the stage that Final Crises seems to be. And it ignores what is actually happening, which I find a tad annoying. But oh Gosh, the Art by Joe Kubert did make it worthwhile.

Final Crises: Superman Beyond was interesting and peculiar, and I hate 3-D, but it was still better than the Meltzer stuff.

I LIKE Trinity! I admit that the first few issues seemed to drag a bit, but boy howdy, they're picking up now. And Superman's explanation was indeed superb.

Teen Titans; Year One sure zipped right by. I kept going back and thinking that I had accidentally skipped some pages. Nice, but not quite as satisfying as it could have been.

God, I'm tired of Skrulls.

For some reason, my comic book store never has Wolverine;First Class until a week after it comes out, so I'll have to wait.

Talkin Bout Comics said...

Just a small matter of interpretation regarding the Kirkman Manifesto. I thought what he said was that having a special all ages line of comics featuring the same characters that appear in a dozen other lines that aren't all ages would not go unnoticed by kids wanting to read those characters, and could be taken as playing down to them (regardless of the relative quality of the all ages line).

The joke here is that it is almost universally agreed that the Marvel Adventures line is superior to most other titles containing the same characters. I read Tiny Titans and I read Teen Titans Year One. I have not been able to stomach Titans related comics other than those for a long time, and New Teen Titans was THE title that brought me into comics as a kid.

I would love to see the teen titans treated as a group of teens with teen body types and personalities again, and not as sexy titans. I loved year one, but the last issue was sort of a disappointment. It was short, and the full page devoted to each character getting nabbed made it go even faster.

There, I think I wrapped all my comments into ball. Hope that makes even partial sense.

Unknown said...

Hm. Count me in as another fan of Trinity. You hit the nail on the head: this is basically a GOOD JLA book. Seems in the official book they have been battling Amazo for 3 years. I hope the sales pick up.

And man, if Frank Quitely ever has a falling out with Morrison I would hope that his next favorite artist to work with is Doug Mahnke. Beautiful stuff.

And to cosign what tommorrowboy said, yeah it was pretty creepy back then also, especially when you had a really good artist who could draw Kitty as an actual 14 year old and Peter as the humoungous man sized 18 or 19 year old he was at the time. I think it was Paul Smith. As tb mentioned things started getting weird for me with the X-Men when Wolverine took Peter to a bar and apparently was planning on physically acosting him until they ran into the Juggernaut who beat him up instead. Really? You let your boy get his ass kicked by a major villain because he started getting interested in girls his own age? Soon after that Wolvereine, a killer, tried to kill Rachel Summers because she was trying to kill Selene a murderer who killed a friend of hers. I dropped the book after that, John Romita Jr. art and all.

Siskoid said...

Fight the power!

Trinity is a better Crisis than Final Crisis right now. I'm a fan too, and I may have to shill for it a little more on my own space (not that I don't already preach to the converted, but it needs more positive buzz).

As for the Titans, I also only read Tiny and Year One and am sad to see the latter go. It's exactly what I would love a regular Titans book to be like.

Baal said...

A) Second the notion that the Kitty-Peter relationship is creepy and I hate that Whedon's need to see Kitty bone Peter on panel not only led to Peter being revived but Kitty dragged back onto an X-Team to be vaguely killed.

2) I'd second the notion to avoid Teen Titans 62 but I already suggested it yesterday.

III) As much fun as Marvel Adventures Avengers is, it cannot hold a candle to New or even Mighty. I had to cut my budget drastically and MAA is the only Avengers title I dropped. Easily.

Caleb said...

Good to hear so much Trinity love, and thanks for the comments on the creepy Kitty/Colossus coupling. I feel like I should read all those old X-Men comics some day due to their importance in influencing American superhero comics, but I just can't bring myself to...

Confidental to Caleb Mozzocco: In California if you're under 18, you need a parent's permission in order to get a work permit, unless of course you're emancipated.

Well I guess that bit was less weird then. I'd be pretty pissed if I were Chase though and one of my friends was like, "Okay man, you have to get a job to support all six of us. Go!" At the very least Xavin could shape-change into an adult and get a job, sign everyone else's permission slips...

Thanks for the info though!

What'd you think of Blue Beetle?

I actually haven't been reading it. I quit again after the all-Spanish issue. I figured I'd try it in trade if I heard good things about it. And I guess I'm hearing a good thing about it now.

And I hate comics with 3D glasses. I can't bring myself to cut them out, so I'm just stuck trying to figure out what's going on in 2D.

Yeah, it's a gimmick I never really thought was worthwhile either... The JH Williams cover looked good in 3D though.

That's why you buy 2 copies!

They even published two different covers to encourage that.

I was mildly interested in Last Will and Testament due to Hourman being on the cover, but thanks to your (and others') review, I will steer clear.

Quality aside, there is exactly one panel of Hourman. The second to last page is a series of panels showing various heroes and their loved ones hugging one another. Except the Hourman/Liberty Belle panel, which has them in the background doing it in bed, with their costumes in the foreground.

Anonymous said...

I feel so weird because the comic that got me the most incensed was not Last Will and Testament (I didn't even see it at my shop, so I didn't get it), but a throw away line in JSA that had little to do with anything in the issue. Which would be the notion that on Earth-2, Geoff John's perfect world, Mr. Terrific can't be an atheist.

Still, I got 9 books this week, was expecting more, and I feel like I got only a few good books and otherwise was lied to by false promises. And I have to say for the record: Tiny Titans is the only Titans. Titans and Teen Titans are dead to me.

Patrick C said...

Just because he's having a Reverend over for dinner doesn't mean he's not an atheist. Maybe Doc Mid-Nite is a reverend on Earth-2, but they're still friends?

Anonymous said...

See, I considered that, but the problem is that Mr. Terrific's de-conversion hinges upon the death of his wife and child, and throughout JSA and Justice Society, Mr. Terrific's said things like he's "missing something," and that he wants to believe but can't. It came across to me, an atheist, as "On perfect world, DC's most prominent atheist isn't one," which isn't that controversial of a statement to make when not talking to atheists. Still, I blogged about this on my comic soapbox, this is Caleb's blog, not my soapbox.