Comics Ate My Brain

March 31, 2008

New comics 3/26/08

Countdown #5 (written by Paul Dini and Adam Beechen, story consultant Keith Giffen, pencilled by Jim Starlin, inked by Rodney Ramos) continues the apocalyptic doings from last issue, with the ominous Buddy Blank narration, the expected trip to the bunker, and the also-expected departure of “our” heroes back to the main DC-Earth. It’s a harrowing issue, but in the great scheme of things it’s hard to say where it fits. I mean, we don’t yet know how important Earth-Kamandi will be to the series as a whole; and if the point of these few issues was to show that Earth’s origin, and leave it at that, like a Paul Harvey story, well … it seems kinda perfunctory. I guess if any series can make the end of the world feel like a side trip, Countdown can. (In fact, it already has — remember the Earth Superboy-Prime destroyed, a few months back?) Accordingly, I’m not sure why it took Jim Starlin to draw this issue, and why we needed to see a Legionnaire devoured by rats.

Countdown To Adventure #8‘s lead story (written by Adam Beechen, pencilled by Allan Goldman, inked by Julio Ferreira) concludes about how you’d expect, but it’s still fun to see Ellen Baker team up with Adam Strange. On its own it’s a lot of fighting and shooting and heroic poses, and overall the arc has been pretty good. I can’t say the same for the Forerunner story (written by Justin Gray, drawn by Fabrizio Fiorentino and Adam DeKraker), which might make more sense if I ever decide to revisit it, but which does end on a somewhat unexpected note. The story and art have improved over the past few months, but I didn’t have much interest in Forerunner before, and I don’t appear to now.

Teen Titans #57 (written by Sean McKeever, pencilled by Eddy Barrows, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti and Ruy Jose) continues the “Terror Titans” arc. This issue focuses on Ravager’s fight against a couple of Terror Titans, juxtaposed against Robin’s attempts at making up with Wonder Girl. I liked the issue pretty well. I thought it was paced well, I liked Barrows’ storytelling, I think Palmiotti and Jose improve on his pencils, and I liked how Ravager was written. So, good job, all; and see you next month!

Green Lantern #29 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Ivan Reis, inked by Oclair Albert) begins “Secret Origin,” yet another look at Hal Jordan’s life. Apparently Hal did just about anything he wanted to from a very early age. The End. Oh, okay, this issue goes into Hal’s combative relationships with his mother and brothers, which in turn are based in his hero-worship of his dad, who you’ll remember crashed his jet as young Hal watched. If you’ve been following Johns’ work on the character, there won’t be too many surprises here, except maybe for the details about his mom. As for the art, I found myself wondering if maybe Reis and Albert might have stepped aside for the flashback scenes. They’re quite good on the regular sci-fi superhero material, but somehow their work felt a little too meticulous for this kind of coming-of-age story.

For some reason that I only noticed with this issue, Jim Gordon looks like Captain Kangaroo (with glasses) all throughout Batman Confidential #15 (written by Tony Bedard, pencilled by Rags Morales, inked by Mark Farmer). It’s Part 3 of “Wrath Child,” in which we learn the origin of the original Wrath and the startling secret of the current one. I like this story because it’s high-concept: a supervillain who’s the evil duplicate of Batman, fighting Batman and the newly-emancipated Nightwing. It provides a few fun touches: a flashback reveals a ’60s-TV-show-style Batcopter and Batboat, and at one point Dick slams fist into palm a la Burt Ward, exclaiming “Holy–!” to boot. Morales’ and Farmer’s work is dynamic and clean, and I note approvingly that Morales draws this Nightwing to look appropriately younger than the Nightwing he currently draws in the eponymous book. Looking forward to the end of this one, but wishing this team would do more of the same.

The Spirit #15 (written by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier, drawn by Paul Smith) presents a diamond-smuggling switcheroo farce. It wants to be witty and nimble, but sadly comes up short. Although Paul Smith is an able cartoonist who apes Eisner’s character designs well, he doesn’t go in for the storytelling or layout flourishes that helped distinguish Darwyn Cooke’s work. As for the story, Aragones and Evanier are normally very witty on Groo, but many of the gags here seem forced and/or familiar.

The mostly-prose Star Trek spinoff, New Frontier, gets another comic-book story with the new miniseries “Turnaround” (issue #1 written by Peter David and drawn by Stephen Thompson). I haven’t read a New Frontier story in a few years, and it looks from this issue that there have been some changes to the cast. Of course, that assumes you’re familiar with the cast in the first place. Otherwise, the story doesn’t do much to introduce the players. Essentially, an experimental starship goes missing, Captain Calhoun and the USS Excalibur investigate, there’s unrelated political intrigue featuring an ex-officer, and another ex-officer is now one of Trek’s ubiquitous omnipotent beings. Oh, and there’s another familiar-looking person on Excalibur who can pop in, EMH-like, when the story requires. The art is decent enough — everything and everyone look appropriately Trek-y, and there aren’t too many likenesses to worry about. It’s not the worst Trek comic art I’ve seen, but not the best either. I will admit to being intrigued enough by the setup to come back for issue #2, but part of that is the hope that various subplots will start to knit together.

Finally, All-Star Superman #10 (written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Frank Quitely) is a poignant look at the last days of Superman … at least on his particular Earth. I’m sure you’ve read about the synchronicity of this issue’s conclusion with the Siegel heirs’ legal victory, but even before I learned about that I was struck by Morrison’s ability to evoke Superman. Morrison and Quitely use the image of Superman’s literary creation as a touchstone for the character as ideal, which is a little ironic considering that they’re working on an “ideal” version of the character.

But it’s only an ideal from our perspective, isn’t it? We’re used to Superman as a commodity — as copyright maintenance, as trademark material. We see Superman used as a sales-goosing guest star, as the center of a mythology that expands or contracts with the times, as a paragon of virtue challenged endlessly by fans who want something darker and more realistic.

All-Star Superman #10 speaks instead to “Superman’s” power to lead by example. It’s about inspiration, creation, and imitation in an endless cycle (“neverending,” per the story’s title). The hero of this story may be dying, but his legacy lives; just as the hero created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster all those years ago has produced a body of work full of its own entertainment and inspiration. I don’t mean to evangelize in such a purple way, and the image of a dying Superman is certainly not the hardest way to create sympathy in a reader — but this issue pulls together the thematic threads of the series so well, and sets up its climax so effectively.

Morrison and Quitely’s Superman speaks in simple, declarative sentences. He wears a costume which looks homemade, but not undignified. He’s the center of his world, and this issue shows him preparing that world for his departure. Whether the series will actually end with his death seems immaterial at this point.

March 17, 2008

New comics 3/5/08 and 3/12/08

I’ve got a lot of these to go through, so I’ll try to keep it short.


Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1: Very nice all around. I probably didn’t need to see how another Batman/Superman fight would play out, but it’s justified as a “lost chapter” of NF. The Robin/Kid Flash and Wonder Woman/Black Canary stories are cute, the period ephemera is well-done, and the behind-the-scenes look at the DVD adaptation is pure eye candy.

Teen Titans Year One #3: Was a little surprised at the pacing of the overall miniseries, as depicted in this issue; but better earlier than later, I guess. Besides, the story’s new direction looks intriguing. It’s been good so far, so I’m in for the rest.

Supergirl #27: It’s an understatement to say that this book hasn’t been what I expected. If you remember the Steven T. Seagle/Scott McDaniel run on Superman a few years back, it’s kinda like that, except on downers. I’m pretty much buying this book to see if it all makes sense. Plus, I like Drew Johnson and this issue’s guest (fill-in?) artist, Rick Leonardi. S’girl isn’t frustratingly bad like, say, early Hawkgirl or late Gotham Knights. It’s just frustrating.

Countdown To Adventure #7: I read this book for the Adam Strange/Animal Man/Starfire story. I have no idea what’s going on with the Forerunner story.

Nightwing #143: I like the fact that writer Peter Tomasi isn’t afraid to plug Nightwing firmly into the center of DC’s superhero culture. It can get a little precious, and sometimes — not so much in this issue, but certainly in the last one — it distracts from the main plot. This issue was fine, but I bet if it were your first DC comic in a while, you’d be mystified.

Detective Comics #842: Batman must deal with an EVIL! suit of armor that he ended up wearing in the Ra’s Al Ghul storyline from a couple months back. You know Spider-Man’s black costume? Like that, except Batman doesn’t destroy it, it doesn’t make him dance like a poser, and (so far) it hasn’t come to life. I’m not sure why the world needed this story.

Green Lantern #28: The “Lost Lantern’s” trial results in the creation of a Red Lantern. Hal has a Clarice Starling moment with Sinestro. We check in with the demons on Ysmault. The Guardians issue a radical new law. I can see how it all fits together, but I know the dots won’t be connected for about another year.

Countdown #8: Yay, Ray Palmer’s back as the Atom! Yay, Firestorm is back (although whither Martin Stein?)! Yay, Habitat, the Hairies, and the rest of Jack Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen creations! Boo, all the bickering and running around pointlessly.


JLA Classified #54: Will probably read better in the trade. Since this is the last installment of the Titus storyline, the “past” narrative takes up the top half of each page, and the “present” gets the bottom half. Sometimes that trick works, sometimes not. Here, it might’ve been better to split the pages vertically. As for the story, Titus beats the tar out of the League for as long as is dramatically appropriate. The ends on an ecumenical note, which is always nice, but a bit treacly for the Justice League. Overall, though, pretty good.

Batman Confidential #14: Part 2 of a new look at a one-off villain from the ’80s, The Wrath. As a modern-style story with an out-of-date setting, it’s not exactly a nostalgia-fest. However, I give it points for picking a time period other than “Year One.” Otherwise, I’m not sure what the general appeal would be.

The Last Defenders #1: The Defenders are famous as Marvel’s “non-team.” This book goes a step further, taking pains to point out how its characters are nowhere near as cool as the original Defenders. It’s a weird little exercise in obstinance wrapped in a story about white supremacists and big snake-monsters. I’ll probably stick with it.

Fantastic Four #555: Boring. Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary are fine craftsmen, but there’s still no life in an issue which features an illicit tryst, a duplicate Earth, and a giant killer robot. It’s all hat and no cattle.

Superman Confidential #13: Part two of the Toyman/Jimmy Olsen story is okay, and I like Phil Hester and Ande Parks’ art, but it feels a bit padded and lethargic. Probably could have used some pruning.

Star Wars: Rebellion #12: Part two of yet another “infiltrate an Imperial base” story that just kinda sits there. Colin Wilson’s art reminds me of early Howard Chaykin, and his Luke doesn’t look much like Mark Hamill either.

Bat Lash #4: The big apocalyptic issue which sets up the climax. This miniseries has been decent, but it’s hard to reconcile all the blood and death with the happy-go-lucky tone which got me interested in the character. (Lots of cattle, but I thought the hat would be different, in other words.) Maybe Sergio Aragones can do it. We’ll see.

Countdown To Mystery #4: I continue to like the Doctor Fate story as it plays with the (pretty much inevitable) conclusion that has Kent Nelson become the latest Doctor F. This installment includes the most traditional superhero action we’ve seen since early on, but the pieces still haven’t fallen into place. Most origin stories seem to place the origin alongside another threat, in order to give the new hero something to do in the third act. This one is all about the origin process itself, with Inza’s comic-book ventures serving as metacommentary. Makes me miss Steve Gerber that much more. P.S. This book also contains an Eclipso story which is once again threatening to meander.

Booster Gold #7: It’s The OMAC Project, Take Two, as we see how Max Lord took over the world once Booster saved Beetle from an (untimely?) death. (By the way, I’ve just started the second season of “Star Trek Voyager,” and Tom and Harry are reminding me a lot of Beetle and Booster.) More subplots converge alongside more trips into DC’s nostalgia mine, so for me, pretty good.

Superman #674: New artist Renato Guedes brings a nice “bigness” to the proceedings. Outgoing writer Kurt Busiek brings back an old JLA villain (from just before the Detroit days) to threaten Superman. Meanwhile, Supes has problems with Mon-El and the Kents have a new apartment. It’s a full issue which doesn’t feel overstuffed.

Wonder Woman #18: Guest artist Bernard Chang helps Gail Simone send WW into space, in what looks like an oblique sequel to the “Space Pirate” storyline from the early ’90s. Basically, she’s challenged by the Khunds (who act like Klingons) to stop an unstoppable race which threatens Khundia. Also, she gets pre-engaged to Tom Tresser, and Etta Candy shows up too. Chang makes WW look like someone familiar, but I can’t think of who. His art is a lot less porntastic than I feared it would be.

Countdown #7: Yet another parallel world, 90% close to the familiar DC-Earth. Another Tom Derenick-pencilled issue too. I swear, this series would be twice as good if it were half as long.

Green Arrow and Black Canary #6: This issue seemed so indebted to “Alias” (the TV show, not the comic book) that I’m starting to think Connor Hawke is the Michael Vaughn designated-victim figure. Remember when Vaughn drowned at the end of Season One, or when he got shot like Bonnie & Clyde at the beginning of Season Five? My money is therefore on Connor to pull through.

Green Lantern Corps #22: Part two of the Boodikka/Alpha Lantern storyline seems pretty forgettable, although it’ll probably look a lot more important in 2009. Today, though, I’m tempted to think that all the procedural GLC stuff would fit better in this book than in Green Lantern, with the Boodikka story as a backup.

November 3, 2007

New comics 10/31/07

Filed under: 52, adam strange, batman, countdown, fantastic four, legion, superman, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 8:24 pm
Just for the heck of it, let’s start off this week with a “why not?” purchase, Mythos: Fantastic Four (written by Paul Jenkins, art by Paolo Rivera). I love the FF, and Jenkins and Rivera probably do too, but beyond serving as a kind of generic introduction to the team, I don’t really see the point of this book. Last year the First Family miniseries attempted to bridge the gap between the plainclothes adventurers of the first couple of issues and the celebrity superheroes to come. This retelling of the origin changes a number of elements but obviously has to leave the end result the same.

Accordingly, there’s no real drama in the story beyond the pathos of becoming superhuman, and even that is glossed over. Indeed, the current editorial revision of making our heroes actual American astronauts, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, sucks away another source of tension. Yes, we all know they’re not “racing the Commies” anymore, but Reed and crew defying the government to go into space isn’t just a plot point, it’s a character-builder — as is Reed’s culpability in the accident itself. Both are absent from this version. Apart from all of that, though, the book is put together well, except Reed looks a little bullet-headed in spots and Ben’s eyebrow-ridge is a bit too sharply defined at times. I’m tempted to say the most fun thing about the issue is the very last page, a cutaway drawing of the Baxter Building done up all photo-realistically.

Another impulse buy was Superman Confidential #8 (written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, pencilled by Chris Batista, inked by Cam Smith), the first part of (yes, another) retelling of Forever People #1. In other words, it’s Superman’s first full-blown encounters with the New Gods, and I think it’s more successful than Mythos. Batista draws a lithe, dynamic Superman, and Smith’s inks and Jason Wright’s colors make this a good-looking book. Abnett and Lanning bring in other Fourth World/early ’70s characters like Morgan Edge and Victor Volcanum. Not much new ground is broken, but this kind of continuity-porn is what I expected SMConf to deal in, so in that respect, good job.

Here’s the thing about calling something “52 Aftermath” — 52 ended six months ago. I don’t disagree with publishing Crime Bible #1 (written by Greg Rucka, drawn by Tom Mandrake) on Halloween, and I enjoyed it, but let’s be clear: if you read 52, you know good and well what the Crime Bible is. If you didn’t, wouldn’t the title Crime Bible be at least somewhat attractive, even without the 52 brand? (I swear, all this unified trade-dress is getting out of hand.) Anyway, CB plays out like a late ’60s-early ’70s urban-paranoia horror movie, with Renee “The Question” Montoya investigating some poor schmuck’s blundering across a secret society. I enjoyed Rucka’s unadulterated take on Renee, and I thought it worked well to bring the reader into the story via the schmuck and not her. Mandrake’s work was quite good this issue, and better specifically than his Batman fill-ins from earlier in the year.

At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I don’t have as much of a problem with the title of 52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen (#3 written by Keith Giffen, pencilled by Pat Olliffe, and inked by John Stanisci). Four Horsemen is generic enough that it might need the 52 qualifier. This installment reveals a lot about a certain former JLA mascot’s recent association, and Giffen has some fun with that. In fact, this story has a lot of Greg Rucka influences, the more I think about it, and the presence of frequent 52 penciller Olliffe makes it feel the most connected to said miniseries. It needs to get moving, though — the 4-H Club takes a pretty good shot from Superman this issue, but now we’re at the halfway point and time to get serious.

Countdown to Mystery #2 has a pretty good Doctor Fate story (written by Steve Gerber, pencilled by Justiniano, inked by Walden Wong) and a so-so Eclipso one (written by Matthew Sturges, drawn by Steven Jorge Segovia). The Eclipso story involves the corruption of Plastic Man, and therefore tries to be both wacky and edgy. It does not succeed. The art is fine, but maybe that’s the problem: it’s appropriate for your average superhero-influenced Plastic Man story, but not for a harrowing inversion of all that’s good and right about an inherently goofy character. It comes across pretty overwrought.

The Doctor Fate story finds him learning on-the-job how to cast the right demon-defeating spells. However, it also establishes just how far down the socio-economic ladder he’s fallen, and what he needs to do to get back into a barely-normal life. This does not include a mystic golden helmet. Accordingly, I don’t get the feeling that this Fate will be joining the Justice Society anytime soon. Not that he won’t eventually — why else would he have been brought back? — but if DC Editorial keeps him true to this characterization, it’ll be a while. Thankfully, the mundane concerns of this Kent Nelson are compelling enough to compete with the magic.

The lead story of Countdown To Adventure #3 (written by Adam Beechen, pencilled by Eddy Barrows, inked by Adam Ferreira) was pretty entertaining, albeit a little disconcerting. I didn’t expect to see a kill-crazy kid slice open Starfire’s thigh on page 3. Everyone in San Diego and on Rann is going crazy with Lady Styx fever, so naturally they’re out to get Starfire and Adam Strange. Like I said, it’s entertaining, but it feels a bit redundant too. I also don’t like having Ellen Baker suspect Buddy of having fallen in love with Kory. It strikes me as a well-worn plot element which might appear to make sense, but which reinforces certain stereotypes. Clearly Ellen is frustrated because for a year she thought Buddy was dead, and now that he’s back he’s brought this golden space-goddess with him. If “Friday Night Lights'” Coach Taylor had brought Starfire back to Dillon from TMU, I expect Tami would be a little upset too. However, Ellen’s in danger of becoming a cliche, and that’s what I don’t want to see.

Countdown #26 (written by Paul Dini and Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, story consultant Keith Giffen, drawn by Scott Kolins) was an exposition-riffic attempt to pull all of the various subplots together into a larger narrative. However, it chose to show all of the excitement through the riveting device of … watching it on television. Yes, it’s Third-Hand Theater — we mostly watch the Monitors as they watch what’s really important. Of course, you could argue that what’s important is the Monitors’ decision to “go to war,” which I suppose will be pretty exciting assuming it happens in the pages of this title and not 25 weeks down the road. By the way, I think Black-Suit Superman, about to execute the Luthor of Earth-15, is our own Superboy-Prime who somehow survived the Sinestro Corps War. Hey, if Kyle’s OK, why not him too?

There’s nothing really wrong with Batman #670 (written by Grant Morrison, pencilled by Tony Daniel, inked by Jonathan Glapion). It doesn’t have the stylistic zip of “The Club Of Heroes” or the over-the-top frenzy of Morrison’s other arcs. However, it does have solid, dynamic characters in Batman, the three forgotten super-vixens, and Damian. I’m sure those more versed in Morrisonia could fit said trio and Damian (again in the Robin costume) into the taxonomy of heroes and wannabes explored in “Seven Soldiers,” but I can only say they seem part of the same “here’s our costume; we’re super” paradigm. I thought the art was good, and reminiscent of Andy Kubert, but a bit flat, especially in the Ra’s al Ghul scenes. Daniel does draw a good Batman, though.

I decided to drop Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes (#35 written by Tony Bedard and drawn by Dennis Calero) after the first issue of this arc, so I’m three issues removed from that one. On its own, though, this isn’t bad — a fight between Atom Girl, Shadow Lass, and Wildfire, with Brainy helping the Legionnaires from afar and Drake’s brother likewise guiding him. Meanwhile, Supergirl, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl find Evolvo Lad and prepare to fight him. I was only a litlte disoriented, so that’s a positive. Art was fine, if a bit muddy and blocky. Best thing about the issue was also a little incredible — 31st Century technology will still let Atom Girl do that old trick?

“That other” Legion shows up in the long-promised Action Comics #858 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Gary Frank, inked by John Sibal). It begins with a great little three-page sequence which takes full advantage of the Superman origin as DC’s version of the Nativity. It also incorporates that quasi-cinematic “DC Comics Proudly Presents” approach to credits, and even includes a splash page with a pinup of Supes himself. With this team having drawn the Superman-analogue over in Marvel’s Supreme Power, there’s also a wink to that series’ paranoia. I have only minor complaints about Frank and Sibal’s work: for some reason, Clark has an overbite; and many characters look a little wild-eyed, especially Lightning Lad. Also, I liked the two-page spread of the Silver Age Legion, but boy do they look Caucasian. I know that’s the way things were in the ’60s, and I wasn’t looking for it, but it jumped out at me. If the Legion is the agent of diversity and tolerance, it’s come a long way since then. Overall, though, this issue was a good setup and it’s gotten me excited about the rest of the arc.

Finally, I bought Biff-Bam-Pow! #1 (by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer), because I love quality humor, especially dressed up in pop sci-fi duds and incorporating lots of monkeys. I actually liked the “undercards” more than the main event, but it’s all good. Also, don’t miss the back cover, cleverly advertised on the front cover!

May 12, 2005

New comics 5/11/05

Late-arriving comics first:

Green Lantern Rebirth #6 (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Ethan van Sciver) gives us lots of pyrotechnics and attitude. There are dueling ‘tudes, in fact, between the skeptical Batman and the so-full-of-himself-it-hurts Hal Jordan. Those sequences bookend a big Green Lantern Corps vs. Parallax fight which looks better than it is. It’s not very exciting, because it has neither choreography nor much in the way of danger. This issue may work better in the context of the overall story — which has been a surprisingly efficient and effective revival of Hal — but on its own it’s so far in the tank for Hal and the Green Lantern Corps it’s laughable.

Also late (and also a concluding issue) was Adam Strange #8 (written by Andy Diggle, with art by Pascal Ferry). While it sets up The Rann-Thanagar War, it also works on its own to wrap up the Omega Device plotline. In fact, if you didn’t know (or don’t care) about RTW, the ending is very much in the tradition of movie serials pointing the way to their own sequels. I have no doubt that DC will market this as the prelude to RTW, but it was a good miniseries on its own and a nice look at a classic DC character.

Actually, the “sequel” Adam Strange sets up isn’t The Rann-Thanagar War (#1) (written by Dave Gibbons, with art by Ivan Reis and Marc Campos). The immediate aftermath of Adam Strange is told by Adam in flashback to Hawkman and Hawkgirl in the opening pages of this miniseries. Reading the two back-to-back, I didn’t notice any missed beats, and the flashback was a good way to bridge the two miniseries. Most of the action takes place on Rann, and Reis and Campos do a fine job portraying global war, but there are a couple of problems. First, everyone in the Rann military wears a uniform similar to Adam Strange’s; and every Thanagarian wears hawk-gear, so it’s kind of hard to tell in the crowd scenes who’s who. Second, there’s the whole Hawkman continuity boondoggle, complicated here by Shayera Thal a/k/a Hawkwoman. Gibbons needs a paragraph or two listing all the players before we get too much further. Green Lanterns Kilowog and Kyle Rayner also show up to say that no way will the Guardians let them get involved in the conflict. Anyway, this was a nice continuation of the politics touched on in Adam Strange, and it may be the most enjoyable of the pre-Infinite Crisis minis.

Action Comics #827 wasn’t late, but judging by a footnote Superman #217 should have come out first. This issue introduces the new creative team of writer Gail Simone, penciller John Byrne, and inker Nelson. While Byrne’s cover makes Superman look rather stocky, inside is a different story. Nelson takes the scratchy edges off Byrne’s work, and combined with colorist Guy Major the book looks very good. Simone also gives us a happy, well-adjusted Lois and Clark, which is a very pleasant change from Chuck Austen’s simmering Lois/Lana catfights. There’s a bit at the beginning featuring Superman in an African village, which I suppose might be in Superman #217. Anyway, the main story is nice and suspenseful, featuring a villain who can really sock it to Superman. So far, so good.

Judging by last month’s cliffhanger I thought Gotham Central #31 (written by Greg Rucka, with art by Stefano Gaudiano and Kano) would have picked up with a big Bat-fight, and while Batman is around for the first few pages, in the end it’s the GCPD detectives who wrap things up. Most of the issue involves Montoya dealing with Dr. Alchemy, her father, her colleagues, and her girlfriend. Rucka obviously likes Montoya and does well with her, so the issue flows together effectively. My one problem with the art is that Montoya’s father looks too much like ex-Commissioner Gordon, and I have to keep reminding myself otherwise.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #191 (written by J. Torres, with art by David Lopez and Fernando Blanco), the conclusion of a Mr. Freeze story, is hard to pin down. It has the trappings of a conventional Batman-vs.-Freeze fight, but it’s told in flashback by Bruce and it takes a different look at Freeze’s relationship with his wife. On the whole I liked it, although it doesn’t amount to much in the larger scheme of things. Still, importance to continuity isn’t everything.

Wonder Woman #216 (written by Greg Rucka, with art by Rags Morales and Mark Propst) continues Diana’s journey through Hades. Along the way she, Wonder Girl, and Ferdinand encounter Ares, Medousa, a lamia (which I vaguely remembered from my old D&D days), and other assorted nightmares. It all intersects with Athena’s takeover of Olympus, in which Ares was not on Diana’s side. Rucka has done about as much with the gods as George Perez did, but Rucka has taken things a step further, almost giving the book a Sandman feel — and that ain’t bad.

Fantastic Four #526 (written by Karl Kesel, with art by Tom Grummett and Lary Stucker) concludes the Diablo two-parter. This was an entertaining little story which at the end turned out to have more to do with the team’s subconscious desires than it did with Diablo. A bit with Johnny and Sue at the end of the issue was especially good. Anyway, onward and upward, as J. Michael Straczynski and Mike McKone take over next issue.

Finally, Astonishing X-Men #10 (written by Joss Whedon, with art by John Cassaday) continues the “sentient Danger Room” scenario. Most of it revolves around the Danger Room’s dialogue with Professor X, but since I don’t know what happened to him and the book never really tells us, it left me flat. I will say that the Danger Room’s fight with the X-Men was fairly clever, and the story has gained a bit more stature in my mind than the fill-in “Buffy” episode it felt like originally.

April 13, 2005

New comics 4/13/05

Filed under: adam strange, batman, gotham central, justice society, lotdk, superman, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 7:45 pm
The most pleasant surprise of the week came in Adam Strange #7 (written by Andy Diggle, drawn by Pascal Ferry). Check out the flashback on page 6, panel 2, and tell me those aren’t two of the schmucks treated so shabbily by Countdown! Sure, they’re second-rate in DC’s eyes, but they took out a cosmic menace! Maybe that was the point of Countdown — remove the obstacles to Mr. Cosmic Menace’s conquest of the galaxy — but I digress. This was yet another fine installment for the miniseries, effectively balancing what seems like an opening dream-sequence with the reality of preparing for the aforementioned menace. It’s too much to hope that the rest of DC’s big event miniseries will be as good as this one.

I had thought the cover of JSA #72 (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Don Kramer and Keith Champagne) referenced the cover of America Vs. The Justice Society #4 (April 1985), but silly me — that was itself a reference to All Star Comics #35 (June-July 1947), Degaton’s first appearance. As for this issue, most of it’s a big fight on the White House lawn as Degaton tries to use the Justice Society’s powers to destroy Washington, D.C. Accordingly, it’s most concerned with fight mechanics and the effective use of powers. There’s also a kind of deus ex machina at the end which makes little sense now. I say “now” because it’s the kind of thing I expect Johns to work into a storyline a couple of years down the road. More overtly, Johns works into the ending a setup for the Power Girl storyline in July’s JSA Classified, and possibly even a reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Not that I’ll be reading either in July. This was my last monthly issue of JSA for the foreseeable future. It’s been coming since “Black Reign,” and the first part of this storyline (with Courtney’s family murdered) kind of sealed the deal. The book just doesn’t do anything for me anymore, and I don’t find myself caring about characters like Atom-Smasher or Hourman II. “JSA/JSA” in particular was oddly free of suspense, mostly because we never saw the consequences of Degaton’s alterations to the timestream. Sure, he says America will never trust mystery-men again, but does that mean Kal-El’s rocket won’t land, or Abin Sur’s spaceship won’t crash, or Diana won’t get sent to Patriarch’s World? Surely some super-people will be around to overthrow Degaton; and if he’ll eliminate them in their cribs to get them out of the picture, why not just do that and avoid this elaborate frame-job?

Speaking of elaborate plans, Mr. Freeze has apparently concocted one for a two-parter beginning in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #190 (written by J. Torres, with art by David Lopez and Fernando Blanco). By the way, does Mr. Freeze get Subway stamps for every Bat-title he’s in this month? He’s 3-for-4 so far. Anyway, the story’s narrated by Bruce Wayne, so that drains some of the suspense, but it’s not like we couldn’t have figured that Batman survives. It’s interesting so far, using the old “why is the villain stealing these unrelated items?” plot, and if we can maybe guess their connection, it’s still a diverting issue. The art is by Fallen Angel‘s team, so you know it’s good; and it’s nice to see those guys getting work.

Action Comics #826 (written by Judd Winick, with art by Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund) kicks off a 3-part team-up with Captain Marvel that finds them battling Eclipso. This is the setup issue, in which Eclipso apparently tries to take over people by pushing them to the point of anger. It’s all designed to get Superman involved so that Eclipso can take him over too. So far not bad, and the art is better than I would have expected — not as stiff as the cover might suggest.

While Gotham Central #30 (written by Greg Rucka, pencilled by Stefano Gaudiano, inked by Kano) relies a little too much on Hannibal Lecter riffs (even trying to make Dr. Alchemy look like Anthony Hopkins), I still liked it. The plot (spoiled somewhat by this month’s Flash, so thanks) involves transporting Alchemy to Gotham from Keystone City. Again, despite the Lecterisms, the interaction between our heroes and Alchemy is pretty effective, and the Keystone detectives come off a lot more natural here than they do in Flash. There are a couple of big plot holes, mostly involving the security around Alchemy, but if they weren’t there, we wouldn’t have the big dramatic cliffhanger ending. Next issue is set up very well.

Finally, if you have the chance, check out the new hardcover edition of Batman: Year One. Most of the extras are related to the art, but there’s also a new four-page David Mazzucchelli strip which talks about his own relationship with Batman and superheroes in general. He concludes by saying “the more realistic superheroes are, the less believable they become.” Food for thought.

March 10, 2005

New Comics 3/9/05

Drove back from Virginia today — 8 hours, two brief stops, hardest part was West Virginia (no offense, David Welsh) — and still have lots to do, but here’s what I read when I got in.

Action Comics #825 (written by “J.D. Finn,” with art by Ivan Reis & Marc Campos and Joe Prado) wraps up the Chuck Austen Era with the revelation that Gog was behind all the bad guys fighting Superman during Chuck’s tenure. The fight du jour takes an unexpected turn into moderately familiar territory. Although Aust– er, “Finn” — tries to make a profound statement about Superman, ultimately it’s nothing we couldn’t have guessed. Also, my head hurt trying to figure out the timeline of Gog’s origin. Finally, the book is 40 pages, but with all the big panels and action sequences, it didn’t feel like a whole lot extra had been added. Maybe some of those pages could have explained Doomsday’s existential crisis.

Superman #214 (written by Brian Azzarello with art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams) fares a little better. It too is Superman getting the snot pounded out of him, and it too almost made my head hurt trying to figure it out, but it has at least tried to tell a more coherent plot. However, it asks the reader to believe that Superman would essentially try to hide his plan for saving the Earth from everyone on Earth except his wife. There’s also some bits with the enigmatic Mr. Orr and some mysterious super-soldier builders, but I couldn’t remember enough about them from previous issues to comment. I still need to read this storyline in a sitting, and maybe then it’ll make more sense.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #189 (written by Shane McCarthy with art by Tommy Castillo and Rodney Ramos) would probably also benefit from being read in one sitting. It’s the conclusion of “Riddle Me That,” and it is full of “Aha! But I am left-handed!” moments — but not in a good way. Actually, I don’t know whether to fault McCarthy for this, because had I made the effort to read Parts 1-4 all at once before today, clearly I would have enjoyed Part 5 more. “Riddle Me That” was basically a caper story with some Riddler backstory woven in, and it was an attempt to remake the Riddler without the mental block that compelled him to tip off Batman using his trademark clues. This would ostensibly make the Riddler cool, I guess; but I’m not sure it did. Back in the reading pile, then.

Adam Strange #6 (written by Andy Diggle, with art by Pascal Ferry) is a good example of how to keep my short attention span engaged. It starts tying together the story’s threads with two issues left to go, and it works in a couple of pleasant surprises as gravy. There’s not much more to say, except that this continues to be a fun story, executed with wit and panache.

Gotham Central #29 (written by Greg Rucka, with art by Stefano Gaudiano and Kano) continues the Keystone City/Dr. Alchemy storyline in fine fashion. Gotham detectives Montoya and Allen travel to the home of the Flash to find out how to reverse the mutation of a Gotham policeman caught in a Flash villain’s boobytrap. I have to say, one of my least favorite parts of Geoff Johns’ Flash makeover has to do with the police characters he created, but here they are handled very well. In fact, they seem more at home in this book than they do in Flash. Montoya also gets a couple of good moments with her dad and her significant other, so all around a very good issue.

Nightwing #105 (written by Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty, with art by Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens) continues “Nightwing: Year One” by telling the story of Nightwing and the second Robin’s first meeting. It’s rooted in a test run by Batman which goes awry, and it sets up what should be a grand finale wherein Nightwing, Batman, Robin II, and Batgirl all learn to get along. For those of us who were around for the original stories (about 20 years ago), this has some nods to them while being a completely new work. Ironically, McDaniel and Owen manage to make the classic Robin costume (short pants and all) look cooler and more natural than Dick’s first Nightwing costume.

Reading last month’s JSA, I complained that I couldn’t tell whether the bad guys were winning. This month the JSA seems like it has the upper hand, but JSA #71 (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Don Kramer & Keith Champagne) also seems a little rushed, especially since Atom-Smasher’s motivations are explored in bits that turn out to be redundant. It also left me wondering how (in good Star Trek practice) how the timestream won’t end up being corrupted. Still, everybody gets a little scene, and it’s fun to see the current Mr. Terrific beat up some Klansmen. Not enough to keep me on the title past the end of this storyline, though.

The first of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers miniseries, Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #1 (art by Simone Bianchi) came out today. Most of it relates Sir Justin’s role in the last days of a Camelot unlike many of the traditional interpretations. There’s a fair amount of “wha–huh?,” but the context keeps everything clear. The art is fine, although thanks to some weird silhouettes occasionally I had to pay a little more attention to who was doing what. The coloring, by Nathan Eyring, also makes everything take on a nice ethereal watercolor look. It’s a pretty good start which reminded me, at least superficially, of Morrison’s Seaguy.

December 30, 2004

New Comics 12/29/04

Filed under: adam strange, batman, Christmas, crisis, legion, star wars, superman, teen titans, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 8:16 pm
Had a good Christmas; thanks for asking. In terms of comics-related items, I got the first Kitchen Sink collection of Superman Dailies (1939-40), the Spider-Man 2 DVD, the DC Encyclopedia, and Looney Tunes Vol. 2 on DVD. The Best Wife Ever and I spent Christmas Eve here in town with my parents. We escaped a lot of the nasty weather which plagued the Midwest last week, and had a beautiful drive to Chattanooga to see the in-laws on Christmas morning. My sister now lives in the Chattanooga area, and she gave birth to her second child on Monday morning. Also, my cousin got engaged on Christmas Eve, so there was good news from every corner.

Got back into town Tuesday night and got up Wednesday morning to take care of some household errands. All the traveling produced that kind of weird disconnect from the normal timeline, so I had to remind myself that it was Wednesday and the comics shop was open. Without further ado….

Teen Titans #19 (written by Geoff Johns, art by Mike McKone and Marlo Alquiza) offers a rather predictable end to the “Titans Tomorrow” arc, because it involves the main problem with alternate-timeline stories — the reset button. In these types of stories, there is always some procedure the heroes must accomplish which will Set Things Right and prevent the Bad Timeline from coming into existence. Now imagine that this was a parallel-universe story, in which the Titans somehow landed on another Earth, ten years in the future. The challenge wouldn’t be to perform the proper procedure, and thus press the reset button — instead, the challenge would simply be to survive. What’s more, the Bad Earth would still exist, and thereby contain the seeds of a story where the Bad Titans would come to our Earth. At the end of this story, Bad Superboy actually says he doesn’t know how long it will be before the timeline ceases to exist. There is so much wrong with that sentence….

Circular logic is also involved in the very premise of the story. The Bad Titans’ future seems to depend on their being thrown 10 years into the future, and splitting up when they returned to the present. I feel like I need a dry-erase board to make some sense of the story, and it’s why this should have been a parallel universe … GAAH!

Anyway, for those paying attention to DC’s 2005 projects, I’m sure this will have ramifications further down the road. The issue itself is about par for the series, logic notwithstanding — the art is typically good, and the dialogue is expositional without being a drag.

The reset button gets a workout in Superman/Batman #16 (written by Jeph Loeb, with art by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Marino). Seems that whenever one of the Big Two dies, the two get shifted to another alternate timeline where they are both alive, but still in dire peril. Arguably, this exploits death a lot more cheaply than in, say, Identity Crisis. Ultimately, the two figure out what they need to do to Set Things Right, but because the story isn’t over yet, Things Aren’t Quite Right. I will say that the cliffhanger is an intriguing twist, but I’m not sure how much it’s in character.

The art is beautiful, and the coloring (by Laura Martin) really complements it. Especially following the stretched-out, stylized Michael Turner art of the Supergirl storyline (which itself followed the lumpy, stylized Ed McGuinness opener), this is a fantastic-looking comic. Too bad it’s in service of such a lightweight, inconsequential plot.

Superman #212 (written by Brian Azzarello, with art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams) finds our hero in “The Vanishing,” the pocket dimension into which Lois has vanished (along with presumably millions of other people). There the couple is reunited, although Clark Kent is left out in the cold. (Let’s just say he clearly doesn’t enjoy himself as much as Supes and Lois do.) I will say that this issue’s use of Clark has left me curious about the nature of the Vanishing. I always enjoy the exploration of Clark and Superman as separate people. Although the issue has a real dream-sequence feel, the plot is still advanced, and there is even some indication of the villain pulling the strings. This was one of the few Azzarello/Lee issues that didn’t feel off somehow, so yet again I hold out hope for the arc’s resolution.

Batman #635 begins the tenure of writer Judd Winick and artists Doug Mahnke and Dustin Nguyen with a story picking up from “War Games'” underworld shakeup. So far it’s a good start. The central mystery looks to be the identity of the Red Hood, and the inevitable possibility that it is someone close to Batman. Although the Shocking Mystery Mastermind is a tired device, some nonlinear storytelling helps keep the suspense from getting overinflated. Winick also includes both hot business-on-business action and an “Eight Heads In A Duffel Bag” joke. The issue’s opening slice-of-life moment did make me compare Winick unfavorably to David Lapham’s Detective Comics #801, but Winick doesn’t dwell on that sort of thing. Mahnke and Nguyen, who previously drew Batman in JLA, also acquit themselves well here, with moody, expressive art that is also expansive and easy to follow.

I continue to enjoy Adam Strange (#4), written by Andy Diggle with art by Pascal Ferry. This issue reintroduces the Omega Men, who had their own title in the ’80s which I never read. I was aware of them through their guest-spots in New Teen Titans and Green Lantern, so I can say that Diggle writes them pretty much as I remember, and more entertaining to boot. Ferry’s art is good as always, although it was hard to figure out at times the position of that Thanagarian woman’s body. (I take it she was supposed to be sexy, but I’m not quite sure what she was doing.)

Star Wars: Empire #28, written by Ron Marz with art by Adriana Melo, focuses on Boba Fett as he searches a derelict Star Destroyer for a particular keepsake. If you like Boba Fett outwitting traps and blowing things up, this is the issue for you. I am not so much a Boba fan, so this was a little dull. The art was fine for the most part, done in a sort of rough-pencil style which suited the hazy ghost-ship proceedings. My one problem was at the end, when we meet Boba’s employer. He has the widow’s peak and distinctive profile of Grand Moff Tarkin, but he’s clearly not meant to be Tarkin. Nobody does such a good likeness without a reason, but this likeness seemed unnecessary.

Finally, I bought Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Legion of Super-Heroes #1. For many fans of the Legion, this was the elephant in the corner of the comics shop. How one receives it probably depends on one’s own history with the Legion. Again, I was never much of a fan growing up, and certainly didn’t follow the soap-operatics of the ’70s and ’80s. I first started reading the book regularly in 1989, with the “Five Years Later” restart. Although I enjoyed this issue, and think it portends good things for the series, I do wonder about its general premise. Waid has set up this version of the Legion as somewhere between a group of freedom fighters and Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters. They are a youth movement with super-powers, who have taken up adventuring as a reaction to the extreme boredom that centuries of peace, progress and tranquility inevitably bring. It might therefore follow that the society against which they rebel would be oppressive, but so far Waid hasn’t shown us too much of that — at least not on Earth.

To his credit, both Waid and Kitson have taken great pains to make the Legion look and sound like teenagers. Kitson in particular made me think I was looking at the cast of “Hair” with superpowers and costumes. This Legion is very much in a hippie frame of mind, although Waid has said they are more like the historical re-enacters of their time. Anyway, starting to ramble now, so I will just say it was a good first issue, and I will be back for #2.

November 25, 2004

New comics 11/24/04

Filed under: adam strange, batman, crisis, flash, green lantern, superman, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 3:57 am
No clunkers this week. Even Superman #211 was decent. I can’t quite explain it, but I feel almost that this storyline might start to make some sense after all. Don’t quote me; I want to go back and read the other issues, but stranger things have happened. The issue itself is a fight between Supes and Wonder Woman which comes off about as well as the Supes-Batman fight in “Hush.” In other words, pretty exciting, but still a plot stunt. I wish the script lived up to the art. Here’s an excerpt from page 5.

SUPERMAN: …Forgive me. I told you a lie.
PRIEST: Sure. I absolve you in the name of —
PRIEST: Well, most confessions are just that. You’re getting more human by the minute.

I’m guessing Brian Azzarello meant to convey that the priest wasn’t going to give Superman the full confession liturgy, since “forgive me” was sufficient, but that still felt awkward. Azzarello also has Supes crash a manned helicopter into the Fortress of Solitude, which obviously seems excessive and unnecessary (not the least of which because it’s his own Fortress). One last thing about the art — this is the first issue of a comic I can remember in a while where the center two pages aren’t an ad; and it would have been the perfect opportunity for a two-page spread, but no such luck. DC probably doesn’t care in the long run, because two-page spreads all look the same in the collected edition no matter where they appear. By my count there are still 5 more chapters in “For Tomorrow,” so we’ll see if Azarello and Jim Lee can pull it all together.

Batman #634 was a real winner. Don’t believe the cover — it’s written by Andersen Gabrych and drawn by Paul Lee and Brian Horton, not the Judd Winick/Doug Mahnke regular team that starts next issue. Anyway, it’s Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Alfred Pennyworth winding down from “War Games.” Appropriately titled “Decompression,” it’s a lot of sitting, talking, and exposition, broken up with action scenes involving Batman and Onyx. Oh, if only Mr. Gabrych could have written more of “WG….” I’m not familiar with the art team, but they deliver a suitably moody issue — lots of blacks and thick lines, like Tommy Lee Edwards. Hopefully these guys will get more Bat-work in the near future.

Flash #216 continues the Identity Crisis dovetailing, as Wally and Zatanna confront the Top. There’s some fighting and a neat bit of misdirection towards the end, so this was one of the book’s better issues. The last panel conveys Wally’s giddy happiness, but if you’re not charitably inclined, it just looks goofy. I think that sums up how I feel about this whole storyline — it’s competently done, but there’s enough to pick apart if you want to. Case in point: for the fan-turned-writer Geoff Johns, making a new story out of old continuity is apparently a big deal; but he doesn’t try to reconcile the Marv Wolfman view of Wally’s parents (they made the Cleavers look like the Bundys) with the Bill Messner-Loebs view (dad was evil and mom was intrusive). There are fewer scenes which try to establish the Rogues as refugees from a Tarantino movie, which is nice; and I like Howard Porter’s art. Maybe after Johns’ long-promised “Rogue War” story is over, the title will find its sense of fun again.

Adam Strange #3 found Andy Diggle and Pascal Ferry embracing the character’s pulp sci-fi roots, as Adam is captured by Thanagarians. Ferry gives the hawkpeople a more armored, less exhibitionist look that I haven’t quite seen before, but which is instantly recognizable apart from the big wings and bird-symbols. While the plot isn’t overly surprising, it’s managed with ease and style. What a fun miniseries!

Finally, Green Lantern Rebirth #2 takes the reintroduction of the GL Corps in an unexpected direction. I expected Geoff Johns to have done a lot of homework for this book, and he seems to have put some rather disparate pieces together. The issue suggests that the green Oan energy has metaphysical, dark-side/light-side underpinnings which affect those who can feel fear differently from those (like old-school GLs) who couldn’t. Ethan van Sciver and Prentis Rollins’ art is still as detailed as it was last time, but somehow it’s not as precise. Not to say it’s not good, just that issue #1 was better. The highlight for me was a yooge fanboy moment towards the end. Even as someone who thought Hal has been managed poorly over the past 10 years, I was approaching this miniseries with trepidation. Thus, while Johns has exceeded my lowered expectations so far, he’s done so to such a degree that he may well have produced a classic of continuity-based reinvention. Don’t worry, these are all compliments.

September 29, 2004

New Comics 9/29/04

Pretty good week this week.

Green Lantern #181 (of 181): Written by Ron Marz, pencilled by Luke Ross, inked by Rodney Ramos. All things considered, it could have been worse. Marz gives his creation a decent way to exit center stage. There’s a little bit of suspense involving whether Kyle would actually give up the power ring; Major Force reveals himself to be unkillable; and Kyle gets some good news about his mother.

Batman #632: “War Games” Act 2, Part 8. Written by Bill Willingham, pencilled by Kinsun, inked by Aaron Sowd. Batman fights Zeiss as Black Mask continues to plot. Turns out Orpheus had some weird super-spraying machine thing ready to go. The macro-plot has gotten more intriguing, but the execution in this issue is a bit flat. Kinsun looks like Paul Gulacy Lite, and Willingham actually has Batman tell Oracle to “grow up.” Nice. At least he treats Alfred well.

Superman/Batman #12: Written by Jeph Loeb, pencilled by Michael Turner, inked by Peter Steigerwald. The penultimate part of the Supergirl story wraps things up on Apokolips, but ach! that dueling narration! Painful to read. As for the art, in the movie Kara will apparently be played by Calista Flockhart. The super-cousins fight each other, Batman stares down Darkseid, there are teary farewells on Themyscira and in Kansas, and while this is the book of Big Widescreen Events, I can’t decide if they’re presented with too much fanfare or just too matter-of-factly. Needless to say, the narration doesn’t help.

JLA #106: Written by Chuck Austen, drawn by Ron Garney. Thank goodness this issue didn’t involve Batman dealing with his inner failures. He actually gets some funny bits here, mostly interacting with the other children of the dad with super-powers who got killed ‘way back in #101. To his credit, Austen ties the other issues together with this one, and the ending isn’t entirely happy — but I’m still excited about Kurt Busiek bringing the Crime Syndicate back next month.

Superman #209: Written by Brian Azzarello, pencilled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams. Superman fights four elemental creatures, apparently sent by Aquaman (…huh?), including one which forms itself out of Mount Rushmore and makes me nostalgic for that old Justice League of America with “The Fiend With Five Faces!” (Either that or the “Dexter’s Laboratory” where Dexter uses a George Washington giant robot to stop an Abe Lincoln giant robot. But I digress.) It’s a well-done issue, and Superman defeats the giant elementals in a clever way. Next up, Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman #208: Written by Greg Rucka, pencilled by Drew Johnson, inked by Ray Snyder.

(No, I meant next month in Superman…. Oh, forget it.)

An all-around winner of an issue, as Diana, Artemis, and Phillipus attend a state dinner at the White House. (FYI, the President is now somebody named Horne.) Veronica Cale arranges for Medousa and her pop-culture-loving assistants to be there too. Rucka gives us an excellent blend of politics, mythology, and monster-fightin’, not to mention the return of an old friend. The book’s been very good under his guidance; I hope this means it’s going to be great.

Adam Strange #1 (of 8): Written by Andy Diggle, drawn by Pascal Ferry. So, Adam’s in Gotham City collecting his things to move to Rann permanently, but then Superman shows up to tell him Rann’s gone, and then he gets arrested, and then some big aliens show up to kill him, but he fights ’em off, and to be continued. I’m there for #2, all the way, baby!

DC: The New Frontier #6 (of 6): Written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke. The Best Wife Ever looked at this and said “What’s that? Looks kind of ’60s.” I explained it was a period piece about the Justice League in the early ’60s. I’m glad I didn’t weep openly at the end of the issue like I wanted to, because that would have taken even longer to explain. It almost goes without saying that I loved this series. Cooke’s art is cartoony, but it reminds us that superhero comics are aimed at the “kid inside.” He also uses patriotic speeches a lot more effectively than Jeph Loeb. My only quibble is that there wasn’t enough Batman in this one.

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