Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weekly Haul: February 25th

Avengers: The Initiative #22 (Marvel Comics) So they’re going to try calling the Thor clone from Civil War “Ragnarok” rather than “Clor?” And they really think that will stick? It’ll never happen; Clor’s got, like, a three-year head start at this point.

So this issue concludes the Clor vs. Everybody fight, with the old New Warriors playing a big part, if you like those guys, and Tigra apparently deciding not to abort the Skrull baby or babies growing in her tiger lady womb.

I’m looking forward to the issue focusing on whether or not she’ll decide to have her half-Skrull/half-tiger/half-human baby (or babies!) or not. Pro-Life or Pro-Choice—Whose side are you on?! That’ll definitely get Marvel some more of that mainstream media coverage they like.

I’m still not quite used to Humberto Ramos’ art here, and I kinda hope he goes away soon, because I don’t think I’m going to get used to it on this book with these characters.

So, does anyone on the other side of my computer screen know who this green-haired lady named Geiger is, and why she wears denim shorts pulled down to her thighs, and how she runs around in them?

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #2 (DC Comics) The same week Jaime “Blue Beetle III” Reyes made his other media debut in the cartoon this series is based on was the very week DC announced they’d be canceling his monthly series. So I suppose it’s fitting that the week the final issue of Blue Beetle ships also sees the release of an issue guest-starring him.

It’s as if to say see Jaime Reyes fans, even if his own book is no more, the character will endure. (And he’s in an issue of Teen Titans this week too, if you can stomach that book; I couldn’t even make it through this preview. Where does Eddy Barrows find the inspiration for his costuming choices?)

I dug the first issue of this comic quite a bit, but I found this issue thunderously disappointing. (I added it to my pull list at my local comic shop, but may rethink that and just decide whether to purchase it each month based on flip-throughs, if it’s going to be this hit or miss).

It’s still written by Matt Wayne, and while the script here seemed a bit weak, there were a couple of neat ideas in it. I liked the idea of Batman tutoring Jaime in chemistry, for example, and I particularly liked the scene of Batman sitting around the Reyes family table for dinner, eating chicken with his gloves on. The idea of Batman hanging out with other heroes’ families always makes me smile; like, when he has pie with the Kents, for example.

There’s a two-page Superman team-up, which seems off (I guess I haven’t seen that many episodes of the show yet, but I thought Superman, like Batman’s traditional supporting cast, were off limits for some reason), and then Batman stumbles upon a crime wave being perpetrated by characters from “Craft of War,” an online fantasy game that advertises on billboards in El Paso (?), which The Thinker has taken over (The Thinker, by the way, is the garish-looking body-made-of-green-1’s-and-0’s version from JSA).

It’s pretty by the numbers, which wouldn’t be so bad if it looked as nice as the last issue did, but it doesn’t. This time out Phil Moy provides the art and it’s not very good looking. The designs are those of the show, but they seemed executed in a not-quite-right kind of way, and many of the background-less panels look rushed, their meaning sometimes a little too hard to decipher.

Batman: Gotham After Midnight #10 (DC) The same mix of completely insane visuals by Kelley Jones and a readable but unremarkable script by Steve Niles that I’ve come to expect after so many issues. Only two left to go, and by the end of this one it seems like the climax has begun, as Batman faces down Midnight and a gang of his mind-controlled villains after swearing that, “One way or another, this ends tonight.”

Dr. Doom and The Masters of Evil #2 (Marvel) Dr. Doom leads the Circus of Crime in a pitched battle against the Masters of Evil, as part of his plan to determine which team would win such a fight. Doom’s apparently not as smart as you’d expect a guy who builds robots and super-armor would be—aren’t the names of the two teams information enough to decide which is ht emore powerful team?

The art this issue is a bit of a mess. Pencil credits go to “Patrick Sherberber with John Buran and Scott Koblish,” whatever that means exactly, and Terry Pallot and Koblish get credit for inks. On the whole, it looks like a rather hastily drawn example of something in the Humberto Ramos/Duncan Rouleau school, but with varying levels of clarity and sharpness in the inks. A few of the pages near the end look positively unfinished, as if they were colored on top of sketches, without any finished pencils or inks.

The issue includes a five-page preview of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz #3, which Marvel’s retailing at $3.99 per 22 pages, because they’re evil. Why is an all-ages title so costly? The eight-issue series will run you $32 in singles, and it’s hard to imagine Marvel selling the collected version—even a hardcover—at over $30.

The villains really are in charge at Marvel these days I guess…

Green Lantern #38 (DC) Oh fuck yes, Geoff Johns’ GL has gone from the peculiar balance its struck between awesomeness and stupidity and has plunged into the realm of full on super-insanity. In this issue, Red Lantern Hal Jordan, wearing a Green Lantern ring and a Red Lantern ring, starts puking up blood at his foes, but he can manipulate his blood puke to form shapes and images with it, so there’s this sweet panel of him shooting up a geyser of blood puke, which then turns into red missiles made of blood puke, which shoot out at his foes. He tries to electrocute Sinestro in an actual electric chair. Catholic Blue Lantern Saint Walker gets down on one knee and proposes marriage to Hal, and then he’s wearing three different colored Lantern rings, leading to one panel where he’s wearing a fucking rainbow colored tunic, his Lantern costumes Russian nesting doll beneath one another. And Carol Ferris joins the Violet Lanterns, who are all women of various alien races, but all of who are humanoid enough to have breasts, exposed and somehow supported by those goofy new open-front Star Sapphire costumes. And we get to learn another Lantern oath, which means more of Geoff Johns’ glorious poetry:

For hearts long lost and full of fright
For those alone in blackest night
Accept our ring and join our fight
Love conquers all
With violet light!

Yes! This new army, The Violet Lanterns or The Star Sapphire Corps or The Pink Ladies or whatever, they are apparently a bunch of spurned ex-girlfriends who are so emotional about the fact that Hal Jordan is now doing it with younger, blonder ladies who insist on being called “Cowgirl” that they become part of a space army…? I guess…?

Holy shit, Green Lantern is the best. At the rate things are going, GL will be the All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder in a few months’ time.

The Incredible Hercules #126 (Marvel) “Double size!” screams a banner atop this comic, which costs $3.99 instead of the usual $2.99. “Lies!” I scream back. There are only 32 story pages in this issue, and while I’m not so hot at math, I do know that 22 x 2 = 44, not 32. There are five pages of illustrated text recapping the saga of Herc, but that still only takes us up to 37 pages. You still owe me seven pages, Incredible Hercules #126!

Oh well, I suppose I should be happy I got more than 22 pages for $3.99. This is the company that sold 16-page Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes for $4, so I shouldn’t be surprised if they gave me 15-pages of comics and a punch in the face for $3.99.

This issue features Hercules and Amadeus Cho in action without one another. The lead, 22-page story is the kinda sorta secret origin of Marvel’s Hercules, set back when he was a beardless youth wearing a dead lion as a neck pillow, which explains how he came to be a prince and where he got his leather leggings. It’s drawn by Rodeny Buchemi and Greg Adams, and it’s pretty decent, though pretty divorced from the Marvel Universe proper, which is sort of unusual for this title, as the mix of Greek myth and Kirby/Lee myth is what it’s generally fueled by.

That’s followed by the ten-page “The Search For Kirby,” in which Amadeus enlists the unwitting help of Bruce Banner (and later gets the help of The Hulk) to track down his real pet coyote, which was replaced by a Skrull during the “Sacred Invasion” arc. It’s funny and even a little touching. The art here is by Takeshi Miyazawa (colored by Christina Strain) and it is fantastic. I especially liked the scene where Banner and Cho face off, and we see how similar their wardrobes are, which plays nicely off of Pak and Van Lente’s portrayal of the pair as different sides of the same brilliant, anti-hero scientist coin. Great stuff.

Justice Society of America #24 (DC) It’s kind of fun to watch artist, co-plotter and scripter Jerry Ordway sweat while struggling mightily to make some sort of sense out of the state of the Marvel Family after what Judd Winick, Countdown and Final Crisis did to them.

Mary Marvel, who became evil in Countdown because apparently Black Adam’s evil is contagious, then got better, then got evil again and then got extra-evil when New God Desaad possessed her but was then cured when Darkseid’s evil was defeated in Final Crisis is evil again because, um, because… “I tried not to change after we beat Darkseid, but…I kept hearing it scream in my head. The wisdom, strength, stamina, power, courage and speed of the Black Marvels.” Okay…? She’s still dressed like Desaad dressed her though. That’s kinda weird.

As for Freddy Freeman, Billy’s just like, “I hoped to contact Freddy, but his powers aren’t derived from the wizard anymore. Look, I don’t understand this shit either. Did you read Winick’s series? Jesus. Let’s just ignore it and try to move on here, okay?”

Basically, it’s members of the JSA from back when Captain Marvel was on the team journeying to the Rock of Eternity to fight with the Black Marvels, and an unexpected ally from Ordway’s own Power of Shazam! run showing up to mention some dues ex machina-style fixes, perhaps ones that will work as continuity patches.

By the way, what’s up with Hawkman and Hawkgirl? Are they dead or what? Who knows; it doesn’t come up.

This is an Origins & Omens issue, and the back-up is written by Matthew Sturges and drawn by Fernando Pasarin, and, I’m sorry to say, it doesn’t fill me with much confidence for the upcoming Sturges/Willingham run on the series (and confidence was already pretty low after struggling through their Salvation Run). The old guys talk about how old they are, new characters are being recruited (Is that The Shade’s son in Rome…? And please don’t tell me that’s Little Boy Blue in D.C….) and apparently Magog is working on some sort of rival JSA team? You know, like in the 47-part storyline that just wrapped up?

Please note Atom-Smasher’s crotch on the cover. Why is his bulge so small? Alex Ross can do bigger and better than that! Or is Atom-Smasher, whose power is to grow to great heights, unable to change the size of his genitals in relation to the rest of his body? I bet that’s frustrating.

Superman #685 (DC) Another issue of James Robinson rushing to get the pieces in place for the new Superman status quo, with Mon-El getting cured, Superman deciding to move to New Krypton, Lois and Ma being supportive of his decision to abandon them, and some other heroes being asked to step up and protect Metropolis while he’s gone. Javier Pina draws the issue.

The Origins & Omens back-up, also written by Robinson but drawn by Pablo Raimondi, features Mon-El/Lar Gand having coffee with Ma Kent and setting himself up with a secret identity. I think he needs to start rocking a new superhero name too, because Mon-El and Lar Gand are equally lame. Let’s see…Super…Hmmm…Super…Superlad? Superguy? Super…Okay, I give up. Valor? Can he use Valor, or will that cause a version of the Legion to cease to exist somehow?

Trinity #39 (DC) Yeah, this issue’s a bunch of fighting! The back-up is actually a middle-up, with Tom Derenick penciling a Konvikt-centric flashback to the “Battle of Gotham” that occurs during the Mark Bagley-penciled “Battle of Metropolis” that accounts for the beginning and end of the issues. It’s all the heroes of the altered, trinity-less earth versus the Dark Trinity and all the villains of the altered earth for all the marbles. And then the trinity, still in their altered, Egg World god-forms show up. Next issue I expect even more fighting.

Ultimate Spider-Man #131 (Marvel) Man, this “Ultimatum” storyline is so weird. In this issue, Spider-Man finds Ultimate Daredevil just straight-up totally dead in a pile of rubble. Did he get a death scene in Ultimatum, or is this it? If so, it’s awfully odd that he just sorta dies off-panel like this. Something tells me that Brian Michael Bendis could have done an alright story about the death of a Daredevil, and that a lot more people might be more interested in it than, say, that goofy Ultimate Origins story he did, or anything that’s been going on in Ultimate X-Men or Ultimate Fantastic Four for the last couple years.

As I think I mentioned last issue, I do kind of appreciate the way this big, dumb, unnecessary crossover/event story has been integrated into USM—as a big, out-of-left-field event that completely (and somewhat unwelcomely*) derails everything else. I mean, that’s probably how the end of the world would be in real-life, right?

Not that this is necessarily the end of the Ultimate Universe. I still can’t wrap my head around a cosmic reboot of USM. Bendis plays it a bit more like the Ultimate Universe’s 9/11, in a scene near the beginning where Ben Urich calls a loved one and J. Jonah Jameson tries to work through the crisis.

The bulk of the issue revolves around Spidey encountering the Hulk in New York, and trying not to set him off while they work to rescue folks. It’s all decent stuff, although, as is often the case with Bendis’ work on any title, it doesn’t seem like a complete chapter as much as a chapter of a chapter.

Stuart Immonen gets in a dynamite two-page spread, showing a skyscraper underwater from inside, and it’s a great single image, showing the bizarre, alien nature of the natural disaster as well as its apocalyptic scope far better than any the other drawings of waves I’ve seen flipping through the other Ultimatum books.

Wolverine: First Class #12 (Marvel) Wolverine and Cyclops fight over a different girl than usual in this issue, which sure feels like a last one from writer Fred Van Lente, although I’m not sure if it truly is (Peter David will be scripting the next couple at least). It ties in to old school X-continuity a lot more directly than most of the past issues, which I’m not sure would prove more or less appealing to old school X-Men fans, as I am not one o them. A note on the first page says this occurs after 1981’s Uncanny X-Men #150, and it opens with the X-Men around a fire on a beach of an island Magneto raised up from the ocean.

Chuck sends Kitty on a scouting mission of a mysterious temple, this time teamed with Cyclops instead of Wolverine. It’s mostly a study of Cyke and Wolvie though, as Kitty (and the readers) learn how the two are different from one another. Also, a Lovecraftian horror is faced and defeated.

It’s a nice little character piece, and one that seems to bring Kitty and Wolverine’s relationship to a new plateau after the preceding 11 issues, which is why it feels a bit like a final one to me. Scott Koblish provides the art, and it may be the strongest I’ve seen in the title so far, although I don’t care for the way Ulises Arreola colors it (Like most Marvel comics, it seems way too over-colored for my tastes, although the way things are going at the Big Two, pretty soon Tiny Titans will be the only book whose colors I dig).

*Not a real word, but I refuse to think of a better one to review this comic here.


mordicai said...

I sure like Ragnarok as a name! I think Clor is pretty fine for trash talking him, but "Ragnarok" can stand more than the next couple years of vetting.

LurkerWithout said...

Even pumped up on Skrull power, I don't see Clor lasting too long against regular Thor and all of Asgard. Though watching him duke it out with Beta Ray Bill would ALMOST be enough to get me to buy an issue of JMS' snoozer...

Really I just want more Beta Ray Bill by people who aren't Oeming...

As for Geiger, well heres everything from her Wikipedia page (I can't belive she has a Wikipedia page):

"Delilah "Dee Dee" Dearborn was a student at Empire State University who gains superhuman powers from an accident with a gamma accelerator at the school. Doc Samson mistakes her for a murderer and they fight. She later helps him track and confront the real killer.

[edit] Initiative

Geiger is seen at the military base Camp Hammond, as an official recruit for the Initiative, which is a super-human military draft. She is introduced to Camp Hammond along with Ant-Man, Crusader, Melee, Geldoff, Dragon Lord, Red Nine, and Diamondback.[1]

She was one of the trainees that attacked KIA and were defeated.[2]

[edit] Dark Reign

Following the events of Secret Invasion, Geiger graduated from the Initiative[3] and was assigned to New Mexico's Initative team the Mavericks.[4]

[edit] Powers and abilities

Due to a Gamma radition accident, Geiger has the ability to mimic the powers of any gamma-powered beings in her immediate vicinity, potentially making her as strong as the Hulk, as intelligent as the Leader, etc. However, she has little control over these powers, a downside exacerbated by the fact that she also takes on personality aspects of whoever she is mimicing as well."

Will said...

"Valor? Can he use Valor, or will that cause a version of the Legion to cease to exist somehow?"

Made me laugh.

SallyP said...

Hey! Green Lantern WAS fabulous! I can tell when you're mocking me, Caleb.

They do seem to be spinning their wheels just a bit in JSA. Isis is so nuts that even Adam seems a bit bemused. But I think that the dapper young gentleman in Rome, may be Zatarra.

SallyP said...

Hey! Green Lantern WAS fabulous! I can tell when you're mocking me, Caleb.

They do seem to be spinning their wheels just a bit in JSA. Isis is so nuts that even Adam seems a bit bemused. But I think that the dapper young gentleman in Rome, may be Zatarra.

SallyP said...

Oops. Sorry about that.

JohnF said...

Yeah, I think that was Zatara, Jr. Just in case you hadn't quite gotten your fill of tedious legacy characters yet.

Tony said...

Atom Smasher is a grower, not a show-er.