Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Issue #25: Bruce Wayne's Docklands apartment.

Hey there folks!  Here’s some thoughts on a few more zero issues.  I realise these have been out for a while but my comic reading has taken a back seat to work and other stuff this month and I’m behind in my reading quite a bit!  Hope you enjoy.

Resurrection Man #0     I was disappointed to hear that Resurrection Man was another title getting the chop by DC, and considering the pretty uninspiring titles that make up the 52’s third wave along with quite a few other books that deserve to go, I am baffled at how this admittedly third tier but still entertaining book doesn’t sell enough to stay on the racks.  I’ve noted before here, and in conversations with friends that I get a TV show vibe from this one, and if it was a TV show you’d all go batshit for it.  After the season cliffhanger of issue #12, this zero issue functions a little like a look at all the highlights you would have got from the next six issues jammed down in to one, and while there’s some good stuff (the origin of the second Mitch Shelley being a particular highlight), it’s glossed over a little too quickly to work as well as it deserves to.  Actually, a LOT too quickly.  There’s an angel and a demon demanding a soul as payment for all the deaths Mitch has chalked up.  There’s the origin of the Body Doubles.  There’s the origin of the whole scientific fuck up that kicks off all of it.  Shit, there’s even a cameo by Deathstroke.  And it all could have been masterfully spread across the next year worth of issues.  A real shame.  The book then finishes with hints at more story, and the final message “(Never ever) The End”.  Sorry DC, but even though I like this character and won’t get excited about future cameos and seeing Mitch shoehorned into another book for an issue or two.  You guys fucked up when you canned this.  It deserved to be it’s own story for at least a while longer.

Superman #0   Another retelling of the Superman origin story might have sufficed for this zero issue, except Action Comics #5 did that eight months ago, and DC probably has a hard enough time convincing their readers they aren’t out to completely screw them for their cash, so this story of Jor-El and his scientific studies into the impending doom of Krypton has been churned out instead.  Now the concept seems acceptable enough, but the execution is lacklustre, and even Superfans like me will have a hard time buying this.  You really need to look no further than the cover to see what’s wrong.  Yep, that’s ultra-nerdy geologist Jor-El there, striking a heroic super-pose and tearing through the cover to deliver his hypotheses to the planet.  Perhaps, as I did, you’re thinking this functions simply as a metaphor for the powerful lineage this character will be responsible for.  I’m sorry to report that unfortunately, in an effort to make a scientist interesting for the masses, dear old Super-dad flexes and fights with the best of them in his quest to make the population aware that Krypton will die.  I didn’t mind Kenneth Rocafort’s artwork, but there’s little else to get excited about with this one.  I mean, I love Superman and even I thought this was shit.

Batman Incorporated #0   Having recently read the entire run of Batman Incorporated, I was able to get a little more out of this than your casual reader might, and unlike some of these zero issues, this is true to it’s source and feel like it fits into the story, instead of being tacked on as an afterthought.  The jumpy-pacing-that-shouldn’t-work-but-does is here, the inception of Batman Incorporated at the corporate level is presented but doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, and there’s some very interesting artwork.  I can’t help but feel warm as the Dark Ranger/Australia angle is fleshed out more too.  Batman Incorporated is just a cool comic that’s different to any other Batman title going, and issue #0 deserves to stand in it’s continuity.  Good job.  Now can more members of the Justice League visit and mention Melbourne please?

DC Universe Presents #0   This one wasn’t in my order at the shop, but when I spotted it on the rack I picked it up right away.  DC Universe Presents functions as… well, whatever DC wants it to be.  It was Deadman’s book for a few issues, then something else, then probably something else after that.  For it’s zero issue, someone had the idea of making it a bumper issue and jamming in five stories, mostly relating to characters that have been dropped from the 52.  While poor sales led to the demise of these books, the acknowledgement that they were popular with some people out there and the service to those people to revisit them is refreshing, especially as I fall into this category in regards to the sadly short lived OMAC.  Additionally on offer here are Mister Terrific, Deadman, Blackhawks and Hawk & Dove.  The latter is a confusing mess to likely anyone who didn’t read it, but the rest were easy enough to follow, with the Blackhawks story tying into the early Justice League arc and being pretty cool.  I bought this for another OMAC fix though and it didn’t disappoint.  Keith Giffen and Dan Dideo return and man the controls as if they’d never left, with even some of the six-panels-per-page artwork I’d loved so much remaining intact.  The origin relates more to Brother Eye itself, where we learn that the satellite was built by Batman with alien attack with tech recovered after the battle with Darkseid (more Justice League tie ins!).  OMAC always titled each individual issue by expanding the acronym of O.M.A.C. to be relevant to the story, and in this one it stands for “Origins Matter After Cancellation”.  Joy.  It’s so fucking good to revisit and if this team ever does OMAC again I will buy the lot.  I imagine, or at least hope, that fans of the other characters here got the same kick out of having one more go around.

Thanks kids.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Issue #24: What exactly is in Whiskas these days?

Two blogs in one week is a feat not seen here since last year’s new 52, but I thought I’d take advantage of the last moments of my time off work.  I really wanted to do something a bit special, but ended up just reading comics and playing NHL 13 and Borderlands 2.  And I regret nothing.

Swamp Thing #12   Why is there another fucking talking cat in my comic?  This issue sees Swamp Thing cross over with everyone’s darling of the issue ones, Animal Man.  Everyone’s darling except me.  I’ll just sacrifice a little street cred here and say I thought Animal Man’s initial premise was boring and the artwork looked shit (yep, I said it).  Readers of Animal Man have informed me from early on that this crossover was inevitable, and now it’s here I’m not impressed at all.  See, as I don’t read Animal Man I have very little understanding of the relevance of almost every character in this book, and to make things that little bit shittier this issue is actually a second part of a story that begins in Animal Man #12.  Which I don’t read.  Now it’s no secret that publishers attempt these kinds of crossovers to tempt you into buying a title you don’t read in the hopes you might like what you see and stick with it.  Not me though.  DC did this to me with Superboy for months, and not only did I not start collecting Teen Titans, but Superboy is on the fucking chopping block.  And so is Swamp Thing.  Like most people I have a limited budget, and can’t afford more titles, but I do ponder if the grass might be greener in another title like oh, I dunno…. Green Lantern or Wonder Woman, or something else from Marvel, and that one of these might be money better spent.  Anyway I’ve still got Swamp Thing #0 to read, and it’ll be make or fucking break I can tell you.

Swamp Thing #0   This issue at least reminds me of what I liked about Swamp Thing in the first place, that at it’s heart it’s a great horror book, and the story’s most chilling moment is in this issue, where Arcane, in the grotesque form of a brain and face atop a large hand crawls on to the face of a sleeping baby and murders it.  In fact, Arcane’s murder spree through time is more or less what this one is all about, and I could go for more of this, but Swamp Thing seems to be going in a more fantasy/horror direction when I’d really rather see it echo Scott Snyder’s other scary book, Severed, and be a more straight up horror story.  This one almost turned me around, but I think I need to drop this book and just ask around for where to get the kind of fix I’m really after.  Sorry Swamp Thing, we’re done.

Detective Comics #0   Holy shit, there’s a good one in the bunch!  Two stories here and they’re both worth your money.  The main story shows a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne training in the Himalayas with a sensei and his wife.  His humanity is in danger of being trained out of him, as he is told that all attachment is weakness.  There’s one final lesson for Bruce to learn, but I’ll stay spoiler free and just say I really liked this one.  The second story, though much shorter, I liked even more.  Alfred is custodian to the Wayne mansion in Bruce’s absence, as a businessman pressures him to sell the property.  Alfred remains faithful that Bruce will return and refuses.  When Bruce does return, he tells Alfred he has been training, and begins to explain a grand plan he has for the future.  The whole Bruce-away-training thing is a great story hook that worked in Batman Begins and works well in the continuity reset (of sorts) now.  This part of Batman is ripe for good stories and I hope to see more.

Supergirl #0   With Supergirl’s origin story pretty much ignored in the first twelve issues, the zero issue presents a good enough opportunity as any to tell it.  Told mainly from Zor-El’s perspective, we see his final day’s efforts put into the preservation of Argo City from the coming disaster, and his scheme to save his daughter’s life.  There’s isn’t much on offer that’s not already common knowledge, but just as I was about to dismiss this one as boring, a few panels throw a spanner in the works and may just lead to a small reward for my efforts in reading all the Super-titles: Superboy appears in a few panels to set up a future story where somehow Superboy transcends time and space to witness the final days of Krypton!  Not a great issue by any stretch, but this little inclusion is enough to keep me interested in Superboy into 2013, and this is what I’d prefer to see crossover-wise from DC, characters from the books I’m already reading so I can get the most out of what’s going on.

Justice League #0   Lots of Shazam.  A little bit of Pandora.  One panel of the Phantom Stranger.  For an issue of Justice League there sure is a lack of the Justice League.  To be fair, this story continues the Shazam story that has featured as the second story in this book since issue #7, and it’s been pretty good too.  Secondly, with Green Lantern announcing he has better shit to do in space and quitting, there’s a Shazam-sized space on the team that needs filling.  So while Cyborg, The Flash and those other heroes might not be present this time, it’s likely tying up Shazam’s intro before #13 is important to the regular Justice League reader.  Those uninitiated with the League looking for a jump on point might want to grab #12 over this though, which despite being the close of an arc, still arms the reader with the right ammo for what’s approaching.

While I wait for some more zeroes to come I have about a year's worth of Venom to catch up on.  Have fun in the meantime, kids!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Issue #23: Zero respect for your market?

My last post gained a monumental amount of traffic due in no small part to my link to Top Shelf and the fantastic  "What Am I Going To Do Without You?"by Patt Kelley linking back to my humble blog in kind.  I loved this book so much it kind of made me look down my nose at the stuff I usually read to the point I didn’t really feel like writing about it.  Fuck you Secret Avengers!  Come back when you can make me cry!  Seriously though, the lack of emotional response from what I’ve read since (which has been quite a lot) did sap my motivation for writing reviews, and how exactly do I follow up my most popular post ever?  Well, perhaps by getting shitty about DC’s zero month.

For those not aware, DC has decided to postpone 52 issue #13s to release 52 issue #0s instead.  At first this seemed like an innocent enough gimmick aimed at collectors like myself, and I considered buying the lot as companion pieces to my entire 52 #1s, even if every single cover looked bland as shit.  What could possibly go wrong?

I ran this by Troy at All Star Comics.  “Are you sure?” was the response.  Here was a guy who knows all about my new DC love, and who stands to gain financially from this transaction, urging me to perhaps rethink my decision. 
I ran it past my bud Ty, who also went for all 52 of the 52, and who likewise responded as if I’d proposed streaking at a boxing match with, “really?”.
Sandwiched with doubt, week one of zero month arrived, and I was feeling regretful, but having ordered these titles didn’t want to put the store out by cancelling last minute…… um, unless that was okay?  I called All Star Comics to cancel Batwoman and Batwing anyway (long negative rant for another day), this time Mitch took my call and cancelled these two books for me, before chucking in something along the lines of, “you don’t really want every single zero issue, do you?”.  No Mitch, as I think back to shit like Legion Lost, Legion Of Superheroes and that fucking G.I. Combat thing I realise I really, REALLY FUCKING DON’T and if it’s all cool I’ll just stick with my regular titles please.  The universe thrice warned me to steer clear and it was good advice because as it turns out even my regular titles left me wanting for the most part.  So thanks guys, for pulling a madman back from the abyss.  Heroes all.

My problem with it is this: someone at DC sees a chance to slightly repackage their product after their huge repackaging last year, probably in another bid to win new readership.  Now I can't fault that concept, because the new 52 was a great avenue for me in to DC and now I'm hooked, but now that I count as a regular reader it's my balls in the top drawer.  Why?  Because for the most part every story arc has to wrap up right on issue #12 so they can release a bunch of one-shots and then start new arcs from #13.  Some creative teams are ending on #12 anyway, some are clever enough to juggle their stories so it will feel natural enough.  Others just get a huge veiny zeroey penis slapped right in the middle of their story just for the hell of it though, and the book suffers because of it.  They did not need zero issues for every single title in the 52.  At least it'll be done and dusted in a month's time.

Not that it's all horrible, it just feels a little soulless. I've read a few, and here's a few thoughts.

Superboy #0   A curious and potentially pointless story is presented here as two shady characters at N.O.W.H.E.R.E., toothy demon thing Lord Harvest and his constantly-bleeding-from-the-eyes buddy Omen observe Superboy’s rebooted origin from a slightly different perspective.  This actually leans so heavily on Superboy #1 to fill it’s pages, I’m left feeling like a sucker for thinking the whole zero month idea might be more than a cheap gimmick.  Lord Harvest reveals himself to be the true puppet master of the cloning project and peppers his observations with recountings of the history of Kryptonian cloning and the subsequent violent uprising (though how he manages to be such an expert in the history of an extinct alien culture is lazily glossed over), additionally revealing his own subconscious programming of Superboy towards violent tendencies.  While this issue is aiming to set something up for the next year in this title I can’t say I’m excited or even intrigued in any way, and I’m seriously considering dropping Superboy altogether.  The title screwed me over this year by aggressively attempting to get me to pick up Teen Titans, and all #0 has done is given me an insight into future stories to potentially render them predictable.  And I liked it so much at the start.  Boo.

Batman #0  Two stories make up this issue.  The first by regular Batman team Snyder and Capullo serves up a Year One style account of Batman pre-suit setting himself up for his battle against crime and getting in a little too deep for his own good, infiltrating bank robbing bad guys The Red Hood Gang and almost eating a lead salad for his efforts.  This is an entertaining enough take on early Bruce Wayne that cuts off as it gets good with the frustrating footnote “the story continues in 2013!”.  For the second time tonight I’m struck with the glaring reality that DC’s zero month is a weird idea with hurried and unrewarding execution.  So on to the second story on offer, set a year later, titled “Tomorrow”, written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Andy Clarke.  This actually worked a little better for me, as it’s a self contained one shot that doesn’t try to be an important chapter, instead looking in on a bunch of characters that will figure heavily in the Gotham in years to follow.  Jim Gordon explains to Barbara Gordon the importance of the symbol of Batman to Gotham before turning on the Bat signal for the first time.  A young Dick Grayson acrobatically thwarts a purse snatcher.  Jason Todd gets a reality check while committing a robbery that goes too far.  And school-aged Tim Drake steals the show when he uses his technical talents to get his school principal arrested for embezzlement.  Despite the ages of the various future Robins being squished together here, I like what this went for.

Action Comics #0   Superstar scribe Grant Morrison teams with personal favourite and ex-Batwing painty-style artist Ben Oliver for this offering, and as the retelling of Superman’s origin was already covered in Action Comics #5, this story is set as Clark Kent is getting himself set up in Metropolis.  We know all this stuff already though, except for the part about Jimmy Olsen photographing women for a living pre-Daily Planet gig (and complaining about it!  Fuck you Jim, you don’t whinge about that job!).  Morrison isn’t really bringing his A-game here, but that’s okay when Ben Oliver is making a Superman comic look this good.  There’s actually not that much of Superman to show off, but cleverly the colour scheme ensures that when we do see red and blue it pounces off the page.  Today’s research turns up nothing confirmed about Oliver being retained for this book.  A shame, because his work seems so suited to the tone of what new 52 Action Comics wants to be, and should be.  Oh, then there’s some nonsensical crap story on the end, featuring no characters I’ve ever heard of, followed by a page explaining who Superman actually is, in case I’ve been in a coma for 80 years.

Green Arrow #0   Young Oliver Queen does exactly what anyone that rich and that young would do when put in charge of an oil rig: turn the whole thing in to a huge party and fly your friends in by helicopter.  But when pirates take advantage of the increased air traffic to slip past security and steal the oil, Ollie decides to take matters into his own hands.  Trouble is young Ollie is all will and only average skill.  His archery is far from the honed talent he is destined to develop and decisions are cocky…. with devastating results.  It seems few survive this day, including Oliver’s friend Tommy Merlyn, who seemingly dies covered in scarring burns in the water…. until waking up years later in a convent from a coma, and pissed off!  The thing I like about this particular zero issue is that it’s setting up a major enemy for Green Arrow in a story that’s probably not too far away, and from what I’ve seen so far, the zero issues that have managed to feel relevant are the one’s that are working.

Thanks kids.  Don't forget you can join my very un-spammy Facebook group here: http://www.facebook.com/ComicBurger or follow me on Twitter @ComicBurger.

Back with more zeroes soon.  But not all of them.  That would be just fucking stupid.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Issue #22: Tabletosity and comic downloadment.

As tweeted over a week ago, I purchased a tablet (a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, for those interested) and dived into this whole digital comics thing with gusto.  I’ve mainly used Comixology, and began by purchasing a few things I’ve wanted to read for a while, like Batman Incorporated and Superman: Red Son.  Why do they make it so scarily fucking easy to buy shit!?!  Strangely I find the digital format to be somehow less committal than real comic books (which doesn’t make sense, I could always sell my real collection if the urge ever took me), and exploited the opportunity to dip my toe into a few waters I probably otherwise would have stayed out of, like the first six issues of the new (but how much longer do we consider the “new 52” as “new”?) Green Arrow which were nothing special, and Deathstroke, which I’m finding to be violent trash (in a good way).  There’s not too much though that I feel compelled to actually write about, despite my enjoyment of almost everything on at least some level, with the exception of the following two books.

What Am I Going To Do Without You? – It had not even been 24 hours into my digital comics discovery tour before I stumbled upon this beautiful book by Patt Kelley.  Strange and beautiful like a Wes Anderson movie, What Am I Going To Do Without You? begins with the discovery of a dead dinosaur in the woods that quickly becomes a news sensation.  Life goes on for a small group of unconnected characters though, and sometimes your world can just be about being bullied, or walking your dog.  At the centre of the tale is the love story of an old couple that is further solidified when the husband is told he only has a short time to live.  There is a beauty and innocence here that is so moving and touching, which somehow avoids absurd contrast with the cartoonish art style.  The characters feel real, and the story reminds us that when the sky falls, being with our loved ones is what’s really important.  And that dogs are amazing.

I got this from Comixology but it’s also available from the Top Shelf website, but was a little disappointed when shopping for a print version for my Mum that it’s available in digital format only.  What Am I Going To Do Without You? Made for a wonderful break in my usual super reading and I highly recommend this book to anyone with a human heart in their chest.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1   The opinions and controversy surrounding Before Watchmen has been well documented, debated, discussed and blogged about and I’ll assume that readers will have already formed a solid opinion regarding the politics of this series’ release.  I’m not here to sway that perspective, I will simply state that of all the Watchmen characters I feel Ozymandias is the one with a back story worth telling, so with trepidation I waded in to waters I’d been warned about.  What we get is an almost cinematic origin story that while serviceable, may fall flat with anyone who has watched a few superhero movies in the last decade.  Thankfully, the stunning artwork of Jae Lee more than makes up for it, making the look back at the character’s childhood seem dreamlike and surreal.  Each page features panels arranged in an almost architectural style, suggesting windows as Ozymandias explores his own memories.  I love the example of how perception of a memory can slightly skew the truth, as the child Ozmandias defends himself against a bully, the kick to the leg seems to result in explosion as if delivered by shotgun.

You’ve probably already decided how interested you are in Before Watchmen.  I don’t much care for the other stories in the series, but I’m sticking with this.  It might not set a benchmark for story, and we already know what Ozymandias is destined to do.  But this book is too pretty for me to ignore.

Back again soon kids...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Issue #21: Ravaged by spelling errors.

Ends Of The Earth more exciting than Avengers Vs X-Men?  Not that I’m hating AVX, but I just found Spidey’s event to be more of a page turner, with a good mix of humour and action, and just, well…. BETTER.  I just finished reading the sixth issue and I liked it a lot.  And on the subject of recent Spidey tales I like a lot….. the new Amazing Spider-Man movie was pretty awesome too!  The reboot fixes some issues I had with Raimi’s trilogy, particularly the order of Peter’s girlfriends, and it’s really nice to see Andrew Garfield give Spider-Man a very overdue New York accent.  And er, Emma Stone is bloody gorgeous.

Readers in Queensland would do well to cancel their plans on Thursday 19 July and head to the Brisbane Comic Jam.  This event is being held at the Griffith Film School Cinema in South Bank, and kicks off at 7pm with a short film screening, followed by micro workshops with some very talented writers and artists.  At 8:15 it’s over to the Ship Inn Hotel for what I feel is the night’s masterstroke, Drink And Draw!  What could possibly sweeten the details of this event even more?  How about the fact that aside from the booze you’ll be hospitalising yourself with, THE ENTIRE THING WILL COST YOU FUCK ALL.  That’s right kids, you’ll be surrounded by like minded folks willing to share their genius with you AND drink with you and it’s all FREE.  Get more details and see how good looking everyone is at the Brisbane Comic Jam facebook page.

Batman #10   While I usually like to reveal just enough plot details to compel you to form your own opinion of a comic and all of my reviews usually contain spoilers to some extent, I feel I must go further to properly write about this issue, so IF YOU INTEND TO READ BATMAN #10 AND HAVE NOT YET DONE SO, REFRAIN FROM READING ON!   I had several friends warn me to hurry up and read this before I stumbled across a spoiler elsewhere, so after I was sure to read this first upon returning home with my latest pile of new comics.  The anticipation may have been a little detrimental to the shock value though, and as a result I’m not sure I believe Batman’s latest revelation.  I gather if you’ve read this far and ignored my all-caps warning above it’s now safe to mention that this issue reveals the Cort Of Owls’ champion’s real identity is Bruce Wayne’s younger brother, discarded after an accident, and this story is seemingly supported by the companion story that follows, “The Fall Of The House Of Wayne”.  Now my friends may have unintentionally cushioned the impact by preparing me for some kind of announcement in this book, and I have to admit the moment was accompanied by “Huh?  That’s it?” from me, but there’s also the fact that Snyder seems to have almost immediately inserted an exit for himself in the form of a line from Batman where he states that the story is a concoction of The Court, perhaps just in case there was too much fan backlash, or someone someday soon wants to shy away from this new addition to Bruce Wayne’s backstory.  But then it struck me:  with this new 52 reboot, isn’t this exactly what DC are giving themselves the chance to do?  To craft new stories for their classic characters, and make revelations like this all the more plausible and possible?  Of course it is, and with this perspective I have to congratulate Snyder and those above him at DC for having the courage to try this.  Batman has a fucked up brother, invented in 2012.  This means you can eventually expect to discover something brand new and exciting about Superman, Green Lantern, anyone and everyone DC, and if it works, enjoy it being referenced and built upon for years.  This is a good thing!

The Ravagers #1   Back in September I wrote two scathing reviews for two books in the 52, Legion lost and Legion Of Super-heroes, two horrible pieces of boring shit I am sadly reminded of after slogging through the equally awful first issue of The Ravagers.  Spun out of recent issues of Teen Titans (not reading it) and by extension, but to a lesser extent Superboy (I get every issue), The Ravagers throws a few left over F-list characters together and assumes at least someone on the planet will give some kind of miniscule fuck about what they could possibly get up to.  Having trouble remembering these new names?  Don’t worry!  This book borrows from same 20 cent guide to shithouse writing that Legion Lost did, and simply has each character use everyone’s names ad nauseum, ramming names down your throat so frequently you’ll wake up screaming them!  And if those of us who value skilled use of the English language weren’t feeling discarded enough, the writer neglects to spell simple words properly, and two editors and two assistant editors let this fucking disgrace slip by!

Shit writing, so-so art, a poor set-up and characters I wouldn’t piss on are one thing, but if you’re not even going to bother spelling properly there’s no way I’m paying you any more money!  Who’s this for anyway?  It’s too violent for kids, too inane for adults.  That leaves teenagers, and it’s not like they’re going for this over the five Batman titles available, or Justice League, or Green Lantern, or at least 30% of what Marvel has out.  Why is this thing here?  I liked OMAC!  It had old school charm, and possibility!  And they cut it to make room for the goddamn Ravagers of all things!  I give this shit ten issues before it also gets shitcanned for a third of fourth wave.  Fucking garbage.

Batman Incorporated #1   Alright, I like this book.  Artist Chris Burnham has style very much in common with Frank Quitely which is bloody awesome, and Grant Morrison gets to continue a series he started a couple of years back and let it exist in the new 52 universe.  As I’ve mentioned earlier regarding Batman’s “reboot” (and Green Lantern’s too, for that matter), there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of discarded continuity, and this move seems to support this.  I confess I have not read any of the existing Batman Inc. stories, though I would like to, and from the way this kicks off I will likely need to, as this feels very much like ten issues in.  Normally all this would be enough to make me get shitty with it, but I can’t.  It looks great.  I like Damien as Robin.  I want more.

Supergirl #10   Supergirl is not a comic that’s going to set the world on fire for most of you.  At face value there’s nothing particularly standout about the artwork or story or writing, but as I’ve gone Superfreak in the last twelve months, I collect it and like it.  I like this issue in particular though, just for how FUCKING TRIPPY it is!  Last issue, Kara let the Black Banshee absorb her hoping her powers would be too much for him to handle and destroy him, but he seems to be able to hang on to her just fine, and Kara’s advantages only benefit her enough to have her survive the experience.  So what’s it like living in a soul absorbing, black magic demon monster?  Or what happens when a Kryptonian takes LSD?  Kara finds herself waking up in a memory that doesn’t quite play out as it originally did, combining with another memory and changing location suddenly, like a dream.  She argues with her mother who then blames her and commits suicide into lava.  Then Kara’s clothes suddenly morph into a combination of old Kryptonian warrior armour and her Supergirl costume.  The banshee then attacks Kara in the form of a huge Kryptonian lavadragon and knocks her into the lava. Which becomes pink water.  And there’s more.  The mixture of science fiction and fantasy gives this issue a nice classic flavour that somehow reminds me of a thousand old DC books I’ve never read, and the psychedelic flow from moment to moment is brilliant.  You’d be forgiven for not bothering with this but look beneath a little and you’ll find the character has mummy issues and a subconscious part of herself that is trying to tell her conscious self to embrace her destiny, and I couldn’t name another DC book that bothers to get so subtly psychological.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Issue #20: Spidey vs Al Gore!

Just two reviews this burger, though one of them encompasses five comics.  I’ve been reading more, but I figure ranting about Avengers Vs X-Men issue-by-issue might not be fun to write about, or read, so I’ll just cap the story on it’s last issue.  It has improved though, in story (I don’t feel like such an outsider to the X-Men now) and the artwork (though I do maintain Romita’s Iron Man looks fuggin shiiiiiiiiiiiiiittt).  I also was looking forward to reviewing the AvX arc of Secret Avengers but I accidentally bought #24 and #26, leaving #25 at the shop!  I did this for Incredible Hulk too.  Fool.

Back in January I predicted Amazing Spider-Man would get a lot better around the time the movie was due for release.  Not a bad call if I do say so myself.  Looking forward to the film too.

Amazing Spider-Man #682 - #686 Ends Of The Earth

I had let my Spidey books gather at my comic shop, picking away at the vast mountain of titles that had amassed beneath the counter in my absence with my limited budget, and favouring mostly DC stuff, so I was surprised when I did get to Spidey it seemed I had five issues of a six part event called Ends Of The Earth, and knowing nothing in advance I stepped in with slight suspicion, ready to smash the lot in one night.
Who would have thought I’d be this pleasantly surprised?  This book hits all the required Spider-Man beats nicely, and may just be the best Spidey story I’ve read in recent memory.  Let’s see, we have:

The entire world in horrible danger.
The Sinister Six, this time featuring Doctor Octopus, Chameleon, Rhino, Sandman, Mysterio, and (my favourite Spidey villain since I was seven years old) Electro.
Cameo appearances from Silver Sable, Black Widow and The Avengers that aren’t illogical and fit the story.
YET ANOTHER new costume for Spider-Man.
Plenty of quips, though not all from Spidey this time, and one or two that give the fourth wall a little nudge.

Yep, for a Spidey fan like me there’s a lot to enjoy in Ends Of The Earth.  The Sinister Six, led by Doc Ock, plot away in a base hidden deep underwater.  The good doctor, himself at death’s door due to illness, unleashes a device called the Octavian Lens and uses it to amplify the sun’s rays on the surface of the earth, warning the world that this is the fate everyone is headed for.  He then turns it off, and explains that the technology can be used to hold off the effects of global warming permanently.  Ock claims that he just wants to be remembered for saving the world (er, and his gang gets two billion dollars each, naturally), but Spidey smells a rat and steps into a shiny new suit specifically designed for dealing with each of his greatest enemies to sort it all out.  

As public opinion actually sways in favour of Doc Ock’s scheme, Spidey’s popularity takes a dive, enough for him to be labelled a terrorist.  As Spidey fights his way through each of the six to get to Ock (including a VERY badass battle with Sandman in the Sahara) he eventually finds himself with an unlikely ally, and facing off against some very unlikely enemies!  There’s one issue to go, as well as something called Ends Of The Earth Special (meh) and a postscript part in Avenging Spider-Man #8 (meh, meh), but all in all this has been a stylish Spidey ride!  -Jem

Free Comic Book Day DC 52 Preview

Alright, free comic book day was a while ago, but I didn’t get to go because I was at work, and the only book I scored from it was this and a Vertigo preview, and I’ve only just read this, so here we go.  Followers of this blog from early on will know of my curiosity of the character named Pandora, and how the whole DC 52 reset seems to be her doing.  This book features an origin of sorts, but ends up asking more questions instead of providing answers.  Pandora is the one that opened the box in the old fable, and is armed with twin pistols that fire bright blue energy of some kind.  She can also seemingly teleport, and though I speculated that she could time travel it’s more likely that her appearances throughout the entire new 52 timeline are because of her immortality.  Cut to “the near future” as Batman fights what seems to be another Green Lantern.  For fucks sake, wasn’t the deal one per sector?  Our sector has fucking five or something!  It ends in the middle of the book with a huge foldout page showing Superman entering the battle and introduces DC’s event for next year, titled Trinity War.  Disappointingly, the rest of the book simply previews a couple of pages from each of the six books of the new wave. Just as I was getting into the opening story, I’m suddenly reminded of that fucking awful G.I. Combat thing, and I’m also left with the impression that Batman Incorporated might not be so great.  Average.  -Jem

Thanks again kids.