Comics Ate My Brain

September 16, 2009

New comics 9/10/09

Another light week this week, in part because I got to the shop too late for new issues of Wednesday Comics and Warlord. It still leaves Blackest Night: Batman #2, Booster Gold #24, Doom Patrol #2, Green Lantern Corps #40, Secret Six #13, Superman: World Of New Krypton #7, Titans #17, and The Unwritten #5.

Tune in as I use the word “gratuitous” in a way that may seem, well, gratuitous; marvel as a “pal” gets the boot; admire the squickiness of Secret Six, and observe the unfortunate juxtaposition of a thong and hot dog. Olivia contributes comments in the background. Music, as always, is by R.E.M.

Download it here, listen to it via the player at right, or visit the podcast homepage here.

Happy listening!

August 7, 2009

New comics 8/5/09

This week it’s Unknown Soldier #10 (making up for its omission last time), plus Agents Of Atlas #9, Astro City: The Dark Age Book 3 #4, Captain America Reborn #2, Doom Patrol #1, House of Mystery #16, Justice League: Cry For Justice #2, Marvels Project #1, Secret Six #12, Spirit #32, Superman: World Of New Krypton #6, Warlord #5, and Wednesday Comics #5. Sorry about the lingering sound-quality issues — I used to know how to work a microphone.

By the way, it seems like I might have gotten a copy of The Marvels Project #1 a week early — but there it was, and who am I to argue?

And just for the record, I was pretty mystified, and more than a little creeped out, about Green Lantern and Green Arrow’s “threesome” conversation.

Download it here, or visit the podcast homepage here.

(Music by R.E.M.)

December 28, 2006

New comics 12/20/06

It was a good Christmas, but long — three days with family balanced against two spent mostly on the road. Therefore, I haven’t seen these books in a week, and with our office Christmas party going a little late last week, I actually fell asleep reading a couple.

Not Fantastic Four #541, though (written by the departing J. Michael Straczynski, drawn by Mike McKone). Ben Grimm goes to France and meets the Justice League. Now imagine that as written by Frasier and Niles Crane, and that’s the issue in a nutshell. Even McKone’s work seems more light and ethereal than usual, although a lot of that is the pastel color palette. I just shake my head in amazement at this issue, and I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad.

Holy crap, Criminal #3 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Sean Phillips) was good. A great character study really helped ground me in the plot and made me want to reread the first two issues. My only question was the utility of having sex while recovering from a gunshot.

Likewise, She-Hulk #14 (written by Dan Slott, pencilled by Rick Burchett, inked by Cliff Rathburn) did a great job with Awesome Andy’s awesome secret origin, although upon further examination I wonder if Burchett cheated by drawing very slight “expressions” on Andy’s head. I didn’t notice them at first, so I guess they were subliminable.

Through no fault of writer Gail Simone, penciller Nicola Scott, or inker Doug Hazlewood, I fell asleep while reading Birds Of Prey #101, and so missed out upon a very exciting issue which starts with Big Barda fighting a jet in mid-air and ends with just about everybody in some kind of trouble. I also never noticed how nice the Scott/Hazlewood team is; better even than Ed Benes was on this book. Glad I started getting it again.

Lots of weird stuff going on in Omega Men #3 (written by Andersen Gabrych, drawn by Henry Flint), and I think I fell asleep during this one too. I’m not sure whether I like Flint’s work, although a 16-panel montage of Tigorr vs. spiders makes up for an earlier panel of a Superman with a lower leg almost as long as his entire torso. Lady Styx from 52 shows up here, all full of Hellraiser-style religion-through-sadism, and there is much freaking out. It’s interesting enough for me to keep going, I suppose.

Checkmate #9 (written by Greg Rucka, drawn by Jesus Saiz) continues the Kobra-infiltration storyline, revealing along the way that current DC POTUS vacations in Kentucky (represent!). There is (almost literally) a backdoor crossover with another book, some Chaykinesque crosstalk between Sasha and Sarge Steel, and another character retooled by John Ostrander joins Mister Terrific. Pretty good.

Writers Kurt Busiek and Karl Kesel and artists Butch Guice and Phil Winslade wrap up a “classic Aquaman” two-parter in Aquaman: Sword Of Atlantis #47. It’s okay, I suppose, although it still doesn’t quite feel like classic Aquaman. It does, however, inform the relationship between Aquaman (both of them) and King Shark, so I guess it is worth noting.

Secret Six #6 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) wraps up pretty well. Most of it is concerned with the Mad Hatter and Vandal Savage, both of whom appear to die in the issue, but one of whom actually doesn’t. I liked it, and it would be interesting to see how Simone handled an ongoing series.

Finally, 52 #33 (written by JMRW, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Joe Prado and Tom Derenick, inks by Jay Lesten and Rodney Ramos) was appropriately quiet. Nightwing gives Batwoman “official status,” Ralph Dibny steals a doodad from the Flash Museum, the Question gets closer to death, Luthor continues to be a bastard, and there are assorted holiday glimpses of various characters. Oh, and Black Adam reaches the height of his naivete. I can’t tell you which of these elements will be most important to the overall plot, but I do continue to enjoy the ebb and flow of this series. It might have been an objectively uneventful week, but that’s the way the holidays are sometimes.

October 27, 2006

New comics 10/25/06

Filed under: 52, batman, captain america, nextwave, planetary, secret six, superman, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 12:30 am
More detailed thoughts on Action Comics #844 (written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner, drawn by Adam Kubert) are over at this week’s Grumpy Old Fan. In a nutshell: a solid first issue, but a little more restrained than I would have expected from the director who almost blew up Lois Lane and most of Paris. Also, the father/son motif wasn’t very subtle.

I liked the fact that I could follow Planetary #26 (written by Warren Ellis, drawn by John Cassaday) without having read an issue for a few months. (Seems like I did read most of the series late in the summer.) It was a decent, understated wrap-up to the overarching plot, and I think the series will really be made by next issue’s epilogue. I did like the fact that the returning character is a pastiche of a particular kind of comic-book innocence.

Another penultimate issue is Secret Six #5 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti). By picking up right from last issue’s bedroom-centered cliffhanger, it puts #4’s fight with the Doom Patrol in a better context of the overall story. #5 also explains just what is going on with the Mad Hatter, and it’s kind of creepy. This means a return to Naked Hatter, but this time (in other parts of the issue) most of the rest of the cast is naked too. Oh, and they fight Vandal Savage’s men, and Dr. Psycho, but after they put some clothes on. Looking forward to the conclusion.

52 #25 (written and drawn by a whole lot of people) presents more supervillain cannibalism (see also Secret Six #4), and a couple of puzzling questions — like, how did D-list villain Magpie get to be a Gotham mob boss (Mobbess?); and why kill Kite-Man? Otherwise, it’s Halloween on DC-Earth, so the Black Marvel Family shoves Mary and Junior out of the way to take down Sabbac, and Ralph Dibny learns not to cross Neron like poor Felix Faust did. I particularly enjoyed the origin of Nightwing, by Mark Waid and George Pérez, and it just confirms for me that Dick should be the star of Waid and Pérez’s Brave and the Bold relaunch.

Speaking of Nightwing, Captain America #23 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Mike Perkins) focuses on the Winter Soldier, a/k/a Bucky Barnes, now pretty lucid and interacting with the holographic Nick Fury. (I’m not up on Nick’s current status — is he broadcasting from the secret undisclosed spider-hole, or is he one with the Force?) Anyway, the more I see of Bucky, the more I wish DC would get its act together on Nightwing and Robin. Of course, Brubaker has the advantage of seeing what DC’s done with Nightwing and Robin … but I digress. Another good issue, in which Bucky and Obi-Nick talk politics while blowing things up and hurting people. Also, a very exciting Special Guest Villain joins the Red Skull to take advantage of the Civil War fallout.

Nextwave #9 (written by Warren Ellis, drawn by Stuart Immonen) features the secret origins of … well, it’s kind of like when Dan Slott did that Hostess Fruit Pie ad in the middle of the Spider-Man/Human Torch miniseries. Really funny, as always, but thanks to low sales and Ultimate Spider-Man, there are only three more issues before it shuffles off to occasional miniseries limbo. At least there’s the “occasional” part.

However, the best of the week is the very Nextwave-esque Superman/Batman Annual #1 (written by Joe Kelly, pencilled by Ed McGuinness, Carlos Meglia, and some others), a very over-the-top look at how the World’s Finest learned each other’s secret identities. Usually when DC tries to be wacky — and especially in this title, as with Jeph Loeb and “Batzarro” — it ends up being painfully unfunny, but not here, no sir. In fact, this almost parodies Loeb’s last storyline, what with its visitors from parallel universes and all. I was really not expecting this issue to be so good, and I hope this turns into an “annual” (sorry) tradition.

October 25, 2006

New comics 10/18/06

Four No. 1s this week, so let’s get going:

Somewhere I actually have a copy of What If #105, the issue that introduced May “Spider-Girl” Parker, but I never read the character again until Amazing Spider-Girl #1 (written by Tom DeFalco, pencilled by Ron Frenz, co-plotted by them, and inked by Sal Buscema). It’s not hard to figure out what’s going on, although there is the usual alt-future game of “where are they now?” In this case the future takes off from the standard Spider-Man setup, so there’s not too much of a learning curve. I like Ron Frenz well enough, but here his figures and faces seem a little more angular and skinny, and it’s a little distracting. Also, I halfway expected a more traditional done-in-one approach to this first issue, and while ASG #1 isn’t decompressed, it still doesn’t feel quite whole. Not sure if I’m coming back next month.

A lot of bloggers seem frustrated with The Authority #1 (written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Gene Ha), but I kind of liked it. It reminded me of Morrison’s JLA Classified #1, which similarly spent most of its pages on something other than the Justice League. I’ve read the first couple of Authority paperbacks, so I’m a bit more familiar with the book, but didn’t have much of an expectation going into this issue, and that might have helped. A good cliffhanger has me eager for #2, assuming I won’t have lost interest in two months.

WildCats #1 (written by Grant Morrison, pencilled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams) was about as busy and plugged-in as The Authority was disconnected, and honestly, it was a little disorienting. I don’t mind massive infodumps generally, but this felt like I was missing a layer of references. Again, I’m moderately familiar with these characters, but not that much. I might get the paperback.

The Omega Men #1 (written by Andersen Gabrych, drawn by Henry Flint) did the most to get me looking forward to issue #2. It set up the threat, introduced the characters, put them in trouble, and left me hanging. It did take me a few pages to figure out that the flaming figure was Ryand’r and not Auron, and the choreography of the last big action sequence wasn’t as clear as it could have been, but maybe I just read too quickly.

Back in the land of higher numbers, 52 #24 (written by Four Non Blondes, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Phil Jiminez, inks by Andy Lanning) was spoiled somewhat by the revelation in Firestorm that his new JLA wouldn’t get very far. Evil Skeets and his army of pirates and cyborgs was the kind of crazy I like, though. If this were my first issue of 52, I’d want to see the rest pronto. Also, Ambush Bug’s room-service call was worth the $2.50.

Secret Six #4 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) was a couple of weeks late getting to me, but it does get me ready for #5 coming out tomorrow. Most of it is the big fight with the Doom Patrol, which is what got me to pick up this series to begin with, but in context I’m not quite sure what purpose it served. The main plot focuses on the relationship between Scandal and her dad, and that’s creepy enough — especially the opening dinner, which (yes) I read while eating. Thanks, DC!

Like it or not, I think I’m committed to Flash: Fastest Man Alive (#5 written by Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo, pencilled by Ron Adrian, inked by Alex Lei and Rob Lea) through the first twelve issues, or at least long enough to confirm that Bart will, indeed, be the long-term Flash. Jay Garrick’s in danger, but DC won’t kill him, so that’s hardly suspenseful. This issue also brings back Inertia, apparently Impulse’s evil twin, whose relationshp to Bart could have more ramifications for that long-term situation. That assumes Bilson & DeMeo have a plan, though. If they do, that could redeem what has been very lackluster execution so far.

Birds Of Prey #99 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by James Raiz, inked by Robin Riggs) finishes up the Batgirl/weird Turkish assassin story from last issue (and probably before, although I only read last issue) and sets up the big changes in issue #100. With Black Canary’s departure (for the JLA, I presume) capping off this issue, I get the feeling that more of a history with this book would have produced the desired emotional response. Still, I did like the interplay between the principals, and I’m eager to see #100’s changes. After that, who knows?

Checkmate #7 (written by Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir, pencilled by Cliff Richards, inked by Bob Wiacek & Dan Green) finishes the Suicide Squad story and, apparently, the first paperback. I think the best byproduct of this story is the firm re-establishment of Amanda Waller as her old manipulative self. The rest, including one villain’s flexible approach to her late husband’s memory, is just gravy. Overall, a very attractive issue, with the art being a little better defined. This creative team tends to work together a lot, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it in these pages more regularly.

1602: Fantastick Four #2 (written by Peter David, pencilled by Pascal Alixe, inked by Livesay) gets the action going in earnest, bringing the Four together and setting them against Doom. The art reminds me of Keith Giffen, with its thin lines and “puffy” (for lack of a better term) figures, and that’s not bad. David has a bit of fun with the 17th-century setting, as you’d expect. He turns Johnny Storm into Dorrie Evans’ stalker and Doom into a Shakespeare fanboy, even going so far as to have Doom adopt a Shakespearean pun-laden speaking style.

Finally, Batman and the Mad Monk #3 (by Matt Wagner) was definitely the best of the week. As Julie Madison gets sucked into Dala and the Monk’s clutches, Batman gets to be just as spooky and intimidating. Wagner does a lot with just the characters’ eyes — the Monk’s are penetrating and eerie, Julie’s are wide and anxious, Bruce’s are thoughtful, and Batman’s are blank and menacing. I can’t quite see how Wagner will work the Batplane into this (it was introduced in the original story), but that’s about the only negative this miniseries seems to have.

August 18, 2006

New comics 8/16/06

Filed under: 52, checkmate, green lantern, nextwave, secret six, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 1:45 am
Congratulations, Green Lantern Corps #3 (written by Dave Gibbons, pencilled by Patrick Gleason, inked by Prentis Rollins, Mick Gray, and Wayne Faucher) — you won me over. This was the best issue so far, including the miniseries. I figured out the murderer’s motivation early in the issue, but that’s not a knock on it. In fact, I got the feeling I was supposed to figure it out at around that point, and from then on the plot takes a “Mission: Impossible”-esque turn. It ends pretty brutally for the murderer as a new Lantern is chosen and a rookie looks on impassively. This introductory storyline touched on the blend of politics, police work, and (for lack of a better term) knighthood that, in combination, should define the Corps, and it made me hopeful that the future holds more of the same. For now, I’ll be happy with the all-Dave Gibbons spotlight on Guy Gardner, starting next time.

Secret Six #3 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) practically gave me whiplash with all the reversals of allegiance. It begins in a place that seems incongruous with last issue’s cliffhanger, so when the first reversal comes, it feels more like a course correction. The bulk of the issue concerns the Six’s trip to Lady Vic’s base, out for revenge after her goons attacked them in #2. There are complications, naturally. Scandal gets a spotlight, and Catman is once again seen as prime father material. Simone keeps everyone likeable, with a couple of exceptions: I’m getting a little tired of Ragdoll being so precious (on good days, I hear David Hyde Pierce; more recently, it’s been Dr. Smith from “Lost In Space’); and the super-Catman-sperm idea seems, well, less fresh the second time around. The art seems to be settling more into a Tim Sale style, but that’s not bad and for the most part everything is clear and understandable. A double-page spread with Vandal Savage and Scandal is a highlight.

Checkmate #5 (written by Greg Rucka, pencilled by Jesus Saiz, inked by Fernando Blanco) featured the selection of a new Black Queen’s Knight, along with the fallout from Alan Scott being “fired” as White King. It was a decent done-in-one issue, although I did wonder about the utility of one part of the selection process: what’s it do to your candidates’ morale after you reveal they weren’t in any danger? Maybe it’s helpful; I don’t know. Anyway, all of the candidates are unknown, and none of them really jump out otherwise, so the eventual winner doesn’t seem preordained. You’ll probably make an educated guess about halfway through. I like Blanco inking Saiz; not that Saiz is a bad inker of his own stuff. With Blanco on inks and Santiago Olmedo on colors, the figures pop a little more than they might have in previous issues. I’m eager to see what Rucka does with the Suicide Squad next time.

52 #15 (written by Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencilled by Shawn Moll, inked by Tom Nguyen) gives us a little Montoya and Question in Kahndaq and a lot of Booster and Supernova (and Clark Kent) in Metropolis. It’s all pretty effective, with the possibility of death hanging over a couple of characters. After a touching reunion in the Kahndaq prison, however, we’re off to the races with Booster. He gets a good sendoff, I have to say; regardless of whether he’s really dead (or, more to the point, whether this is the “right” Booster). If an issue can leave you feeling sorry for a computerized sidekick, not to mention feeling the frustration of a powerless Man of Steel, it must have done something right.

Now that I’m bummed out again, I almost feel guilty telling you how fun Nextwave #7 (written by Warren Ellis, drawn by Stuart Immonen) was. Pretty daggone fun, I have to say. It picks up from last issue’s fight against the Aeromarine, sets up the new menace from … Dormammu’s kid brother, looks like (have we seen him before?), and gets right into the crew fragging Mindless Ones. Like the caption says, “Nextwave: when America can only be saved by killing a butt-load of monsters.” Ellis’ script is a sprightly affair, and I have always been a big fan of Stuart Immonen, but I particularly like the slightly stylized approach he uses here. Still no signs of this book running low on attitude anytime soon.

July 7, 2006

New comics 7/6/06

Filed under: 52, batman, beyond, fantastic four, secret six, spider-man, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 2:00 am
Sweet fancy Moses, I read some good comics today! Just when I thought I had things figured out, quite a few of these books surprised me. Hardly a clunker in the bunch!

We begin with Detective Comics #821 (drawn by J.H. Williams III), the first of what I hope are many consecutive issues written by Paul Dini. If JHW3 were sticking around longer, I might be calling this the next great Batman team … but then again, Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert are on deck, so we’ll just have to see. Crikey, I’m negative, and for no good reason except being burned by so many Batman comics in the past several years. Anyway, buy this issue. Savor its done-in-oneness, and remember the years of line-wide crossovers. Notice the painted scene transitions, the deco-font captions, the fact that Robin (!) gets a dramatic reveal. Ponder whether the opening two-page spread, with its judicious use of white impact marks and sound effect, is an homage to the Adam West show. Everything about this comic feels right.

Secret Six #2 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) sports a cover that would send Sir Mix-A-Lot into orbit, but it’s actually kind of a fakeout. The Six spend much of the issue getting back on those that done them wrong, including a torture scene that ends unexpectedly. Art is still rather murky, and the colors this issue don’t help much. A flashback scene involving Scandal swimming uses much the same shade of orange for the water and land elements, making me wonder how long she could hold her breath. Also, one of the Six is the subject of a cliffhanger, but because it wasn’t telegraphed earlier in the book, it’s somehow not as suspenseful. I know that sounds fallacious, but I don’t want to spoil anything. Still, I thnk Deadshot makes a Batman Begins joke, and everything else seems to hold together, so I’m on board for another month.

52 #9 (written by Ace, Rocky, Prof, and Red, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Shawn Moll, inks by Tom Nguyen) tracks two main stories: Steel confronts Luthor over Natasha’s powering-up; and Buddy, Adam, and Starfire escape Devilance the Pursuer. Also, Montoya meets an unmasked Question, and her old girlfriend gets a costumed cameo. (“History of the DCU” covers Identity Crisis, so you can imagine how that goes.) It’s rather predictable to have Natasha and Steel fight, but I like Natasha so far, so I’m rooting for her to have a happy ending. However, the question for the other main story is, how blind is Adam Strange? At one point he can tell that Devilance is looking into the unfriendly end of Adam’s jetpack. Did I miss the part where Adam now has radar sense from the truck full of chemicals passing by the spatial anomaly? Maybe I did; but please, 52, have mercy on us slow folk.

Neck-and-neck with Detective #821 in for this week’s Why Aren’t All Comics Like This? award is The Thing #8 (written by Dan Slott, drawn by Kieron Dwyer), featuring Ben Grimm’s spectacular Marvel Universe-wide poker party, in celebration of a true milestone in his life. Yes, Alicia is involved, but it’s not what you might think. I thought it was a terrifically charming issue built around nothing more than colleagues gathering for a good time, and if I start to think about how much of Marvel and DC’s recent sales are based around blood, death, and artificial bids for relevance, while this title never found its audience, it will just make me madder. If you are enjoying “Civil War,” I can understand why; but if you have a spare $2.99 for this issue, or you want to splurge on the upcoming paperback, you could do worse. Dan Slott loves Marvel’s characters like family, and this series has been a great showcase for him and them.

I wanted Fantastic Four: First Family #5 (written by Joe Casey, pencilled by Chris Weston, inked by Gary Erskine) to step up the pace, and it did. As Sue struggles with her feelings for Reed and Johnny tries to save his mechanic buddies from burglars, Reed is called in to stop Evil Peter Lorre from irradiating upstate New York with cosmic rays. It’s all good setup for what could be a very satisfying conclusion.

Ever since seeing that Peter David was writing Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man (#17 pencilled by Mike Norton, inked by Norman Lee), I had been meaning to get it. This issue features Spidey (still in high school) trying to cure Flash Thompson’s lycanthropy, with the help of special guest star Doctor Strange. I didn’t think David would dumb down an all-ages story, and I wasn’t disappointed. Predictable elements of the story are given good twists, and while David’s trademark sense of humor isn’t front and center, the story is very good-natured. Art is also simple and straightforward, but professional, in the mold of Paul Smith, Ty Templeton, or cover artist Cameron Stewart. If I were feeling more cynical, I’d say sure, Marvel, get the kids hooked on this, and in a few years they’ll be ready for civil liberties and ugly art. Next issue: Man-Thing!

Finally, an impulse buy: Beyond! #1 (drawn by Scott Kolins), bought on the strength of writer Dwayne McDuffie. It’s a sequel to Secret Wars, featuring Spider-Man, Venom, the Wasp, Gravity, Firebird, Hank Pym, a new Kraven, Medusa, and (unfamiliar to me) The Hood. The story is told from Gravity’s perspective, which is nice for someone like me who needs to be introduced to him and some of these others. Now, you might think that some of the big names involved here would be safe from death and carnage, but let me tell you, you would be wrong. While there might be a reset button at the end of issue #6, it looks like an entertaining ride nonetheless.

May 29, 2006

New comics 5/24/06

Filed under: 52, batman, checkmate, fantastic four, green lantern, hawkgirl, legion, secret six, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 1:55 pm
Just a few housekeeping items before we get started.

R.I.P. Alex Toth. If nothing else, he played a big part in getting so many of us to read superheroes through his work on the “Super Friends” shows. Of course, he was also a fantastic comics artist with a dynamic style.

The 50 Best DC Characters post is done over at The Great Curve, so please check it out. There has been some controversy already, which I accept, but I am pretty proud of the writing and the pictures nonetheless. Equal parts labor and love, I would say.

A few weeks ago, DC announced a Terra-themed Teen Titans paperback out for the fall, so the pressure’s on for me to get through “The Judas Contract” before then — hence, the “Runaways” post below. I also intend to finish the Star Trek series, especially after seeing Patrick Stewart in the new X-Men on Friday night.

Speaking of which, I saw it with our neighbors and their kids (the Best Wife Ever is out of town this weekend), and afterwards the youngest boy wailed, “That was the dumbest movie! Just a buncha naked women and kissin’ and making out!” The children are our future, Brett Ratner! For shame. For shame.


The cover of 52 #3 (written by the Gang of Four, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Joe Bennett, inks by Ruy Jose) advertises Lex Luthor, but the inside’s more about Black Adam and his new “pre-emptive” approach to governing. I like Black Adam more as a villain, so I hope this plot takes him further down that path. Still, it produces a couple of very grisly moments (one involving a “SPLORCH”), which I thought were behind us. More wackiness with Booster and Skeets, Luthor employs a strategy last seen when Waid (appropriately enough) guest-wrote an issue of Action about nine years ago, and Steel is in a couple of scenes too. Part 2 of Dan Jurgens and Art Thibert’s History of DC focuses on Earth-1 and Earth-2, confusing me even more about whether a post-Crisis Crisis ever happened. The main story’s still good, though.

One question about Supergirl and the Legion #18 (written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Barry Kitson and Adam DeKraker, inked by Mick Gray and Drew Geraci): how many people did Waid expect would get the “Rol Purtha” joke at the end? Do that many of us have D&D backgrounds? Good issue overall. Supergirl is a fun addition to the team, maybe because she has Homer Simpson moments where she doesn’t take the 31st Century that seriously. The plot is a nice mix of robot fighting (the fighting of robots, that is) and interplanetary incidents fueled by Brainiac 5, and DeKraker is starting to mesh well with Kitson’s layouts.

I liked Checkmate #2 (written by Greg Rucka, drawn by Jesus Saiz) probably more than #1. This is an intermediate issue which advances the plot without feeling decompressed. Much of it is character moments involving Sasha Bordeaux, so it feels more focused than #1, and the political discussions made me feel kinda smart, for whatever that’s worth. The art seemed better this issue too — there was some Kevin Maguire in Saiz’s faces, I thought — and I could tell people apart more easily.

I want to like Hawkgirl #52 (written by Walter Simonson, drawn by Howard Chaykin), and I have a feeling that Simonson and Chaykin are going somewhere with these dream sequences, but right now it feels like they’re turning Kendra into a combination of Nancy Drew and Mary Tyler Moore. This issue concerns a blackmailed patron of Kendra’s museum and features a bewildering cameo by Bruce Wayne, who shows up for a couple of panels and then disappears. I know that’s his schtick, but usually writers don’t play the Bat-card so subtly. Maybe next issue. Anyway, what can I say against Chaykin art? (Although it is pretty cold, apparently, in St. Roch these days.) The writing’s bringing down this series.

Green Lantern #11 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Ivan Reis, inked by Oglair Albert) was fun. Hal goes to Oa to get permission from the Guardians to track down the ex-GLs who want him dead. Hal and Guy get into a bar fight with current GLs who want Hal dead. Hal and Guy fight a planet full of Manhunters, only to encounter a formerly-annoying Superman villain at the cliffhanger. I am looking forward to next issue, because I am going to enjoy Hal and Guy’s beatdown of this particular character.

Secret Six #1 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) picks up well from Villains United. Our intrepid band of anti-heroes break one of their own out of North Korea, and then take care of personal business before being stalked by the remnants of the Secret Society. Walker and Palmiotti bring a slightly different style to the art — more like Tim Sale in spots, although the figures have the weight of a Paul Pelletier. I was going to wait for the paperback of this, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Batman #653 (written by James Robinson, pencilled by Don Kramer, inked by Wayne Faucher) is a Two-Face spotlight detailing his selection by Batman to be Gotham’s vigilante for oh, about a year. I like this storyline, but I have to say, in the longer view this appears to be yet another Bat-plan gone horribly wrong, and I hope Robinson shows us the Bat-Backup (the Question, for instance) in the next couple of issues. The issue itself is fairly decent, and concludes in a pretty gruesome fashion that makes up for its being otherwise predictable.

Finally, I was pretty disappointed in Fantastic Four: A Death In The Family (written by Karl Kesel, pencilled by Lee Weeks, inked by Robert Campanella and Tom Palmer). I know not to trust Marvel’s hype machine, but in hindsight it was really trying to sell a story which might have otherwise only been fit for a Secret Files-type special. Oh, wait, there are Who’s W— I mean, OHOTMU pages in the back! It is a Secret Files-type special! Anyway, there’s also a Franklin Richards backup by Chris Eliopolous and Marc Sumerak, and a reprint of John Byrne’s FF #245, featuring the adult Franklin. An odd mix of stories that feel crammed together under the pretense of a Big Event. Silly Marvel — we know what the events look like by now!

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