Thursday, January 24, 2008

Issue #6: Brand New Controversy

This week is between paychecks, and since I spent my comic budget last week (and a few dollars more) I'll have to wait until payday next week to get my titles at Bad Apple Comics

Comics for the week of January 23, 2008:
Countdown #14 (DC)
Dan Dare #3 (Virgin)
Legion of Super-Heroes (DC)
Superman Confidential #11 (DC) (This issue finishes the original storyline begun by Darwyn Cook and Tim Sale. I don't know why this concluding issue took so long.)

Since I don't have any comic books to review this week, I thought now would be a perfect time to comment on recent developments in Amazing Spider-Man, specifically the recently released first issue of the "Brand New Day" storyline.
I dropped Amazing Spider-Man in the middle of Civil War, not because I didn't like Peter Parker revealing his secret identity, but because I needed to drop a few titles to make room for a few that interested me more. I'm not picking up the title again, not because I don't like the developments in the book, but I need to make room for the upcoming Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch run of Fantastic Four, which interests me a little more. If I had a few extra dollars to budget into comics, I would pick up Amazing because I love the art of John Romita, Jr.
What I want to comment on really doesn't involve the issue itself, namely the undoing of Peter and MJ's marriage. It involves Joe Quesada's comments in previous years about his feelings on Peter Parker being married. He has made it clear that he's never liked it. He hasn't gone on a fanboy rant constantly about it, but he has made his views known enough that, when I heard what the changes were, it seemed anti-climatic; no surprise here.
Joe Quesada is welcome to his opinion, after all what comic book reader doesn't have them. I'm not necessrily saying he's wrong. I look forward to seeing how this story plays out. If I understand his opinion correctly, he feels that the marriage has taken Peter Parker from his roots as a struggling hero. To me, he seems to suggest that there can't be any good married Spider-Man stories, and that readers can't relate to a married Spider-Man.
To me, there isn't a life situation that Peter Parker can be put into that can't hold the potential for a good Spider-Man story, or any super-hero story for that matter. Do I have any ideas for a good married Peter Parker / Spider-Man story? No. If I did, maybe I'd be writing them from the inside instead of writing about them from the outside. And what comic book reader doesn't know of at least a few close friends or family who are married? If they can relate to them in real life, why not in their super-hero stories.
The essence of Peter Parker / Spider-Man has nothing to do with being married or single, to me. To sum up Peter Parker and Spider-Man in one statement is this: However many times Spider-Man beats the bad guys, there will always be something going wrong in his life to pour rain on his parade. That is true whether he is married or single.

According to the various comic book publisher web sites, the comics on my pull list for the week of January 30, 2008 are:
Action Comics #861 (DC)
Countdown #13 (DC) (lucky number?)
And as I mentioned earlier, I am putting Fantastic Four on my pull list, starting with issue #553, which wraps up the current storyline before Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch take over with issue #554. Reading that the FF will meet their future selves in issue 553 is too much to pass up. I may have to drop Countdown to make room.

To e-mail me about your pull list, write to:

Issue #5: Catch Up Week: Comics For the Week of 1/16/08

This week is a catch up week, as I empty my subscription file at my comic book store, Bad Apple Comics,
From the week of December 19, 2007, I finally bought Infinite Power #9 of 9 (Marvel).
From the week of January 9, 2008, I got Countdown #16 and Superman #672 (both DC).
For the week of January 16, 2008, I bought Countdown #15 (DC), The Sword #4 (Image) and The Umbrella Academy #5 0f 6 (Dark Horse).
with that I'm caught up until next week, when I'll have to wait another week until payday.

Infinite Power #9 of 9 (Marvel) * * * *
The conclusion to the battle between the Ultimate Marvel Heroes and the Squdron Supreme, we get the Hulk vs. the Hulk, the Hulk vs. everyone, and the Hulk vs. the Thing, just like during the 1960's. Several manipulators get theirs in the end, an dboth sides come to an interesting truce. It ends where it began, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, in a very touching scene. this miniseries was definitely above average, with a good combination of action combined with plot twists.

Countdown #16 and #15 (DC) both: * * * *
In issue #16, Monarch attacks and the Monitors are in dissary. Ray Palmer is found by some of the other heroes of Earth-51. Donna Troy fights - Donna Troy, Jason makes an interesting aquaintance, Superman Pime (superboy Prime from Infinite Crisis) and Jimmy Olsen and Forager recuperate in Metropolis. The back-up feature is the origin of Sinestro.
In issue #15, Mary Marvel gets to know Queen Hippolyta more, Hal Jordan is on the run, Monacrch's battle continues, and the fate of the Bruce Wayne/Batman of Earth-51 is revealed, Donna Troy finishes her battle with Donna Troy, and more is revealed of Hal Jordan's work on Earth-51.
Contdown seems to be done with plot setup and seems to have begun the final stretch. The pace has definitely picked up and the issues are more interesting. Now it seems to be rushing to its grand climax, or the next event series.

Superman #672 (DC) * * * *
In "Insect Queen, part two", we learn the origin of Insect Queen, and her insect minions find an interesting way of challenging Superman, and something changes with Chris Kent. This story is shaping up to be better than the Arion story, but I still think that Action and All-Star Superman are still better titles at the moment. This storyline seems to have a better balance of character development and action than the Arion story.

The Sword #4 (DC) * * * *
Dara continues her run from the police as a fugitive, and her mysterious adversaries discover that Dara and her sword have become national news. The Luna brothers have another winner. they are building a great story and revealing a little more of the sword's mystery with every issue. Unfortunately, I've dropped this title because Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch are going to begin their run on Marvel's Fantastic Four, and I need to fit it into my budget somehow. I may have to drop Countdown as well whenever Dynamite Entertainment's Superpowers begins.

The Umbrella Academy #5 of 6 (Dark Horse) * * * * *
Issue 5 begins with the aftermath of the attack on Dr. Pogo and #5 in the diner. Space Boy and Allison have some time to catch up, and the Orchestra Verdammten begin their ultimate attack on the Umbrella Academy with the help of #7. I can't wait to read the climax of issue 6. This miniseries has been one of the best titles I've read lately. If you haven't read this title yet, look for any back issues, or you can wait for the inevitable trade paperback. You won't be disappointed.

Coming up for the week of January 23, 2008:
Countdown #14 (DC)
Superman Confidential #11 (DC)
Legion of Super-Heroes #38 (DC)
Dan Dare #3 (Virgin)

To share what is on your pull list e-mail me at:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Issue #4 Countdown to Infinite Civil Identity Crisis War - 52 Skidoo

The only comic book title on my pull list for the week of Wednesday, January 9, 2008 is:
Countdown #16 (DC)
I'll have to wait until payday a week from Friday to pick it up.
Diamond Distributors did not have a list on their website for the week of Wednesday, January 16, 2008, but a search of the various comic publisher websites gave the following comics tentatively scheduled to be published next week:
Countdown #15 (DC)
The Sword #4 (Image)
The Umbrella Academy #5 (of 6) (Dark Horse)
Powers #28 (Icon / Marvel), which was originally scheduled to appear on shelves on the 16th, is now scheduled to be published on Wednesday, February 6, 2008.

Since I will not be reading and reviewing any new comics this week I thought I would use this blog to review some of the comics on my pull list, and "event" comics in general.
Superman mostly improved in 2007. All-Star Superman continued to be the best of the Superman titles. It's only drawback is the wait between issues. Kurt Busiek's Arion story in Superman was only mediocre. Arion's challenge that Superman's powers actually held back humanity's ability to ultimately defend itself dragged on too long. The highlight of the story was the alternate future of Earth. I always enjoy "what if"stories. Otherwise it was nothing special. Action Comics I would rate the highest of the Superman titles if not for All-Star Superman. The director Richard Donner joined writer Geoff Johns to script Action Comics. It had two great stories last year. The first story was the reprise of the General Zod character from the first two Superman movies. It gave an unexpected twist to Zod's descent into evil. Unfortunately, Action Comics #851 ended in a cliff-hanger, with a teaser stating, "to be continued in Action Comics Annual #11!" Action Comics #860 has recently been published, and it is in the middle of the second storyline since the General Zod story. According to the DC Comics website, Action Comics Annual #11 will finally appear the week of February 13. Superman Confidential, with a first storyline by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale, was also great, detailing the origin of kryptonite on Earth. Unfortunately, the conclusion to that story has yet to be published. Dc has gone ahead with the next storylines and creative teams. Fortunately we won't have to wait as long for the conclusion to the Cooke / Sale story. Superman Confidential #11 will finally contain the conclusion to their Kryptonite story on January 23, 2008. I've since dropped Superman Confidential. The subsequent storylines did not appeal to me as much, and there were other titles I wanted to fit into my budget.
Titles like The Umbrella Academy mini-series by Dark Horse Comics. I wish this title was a continuing series. The creative team of Gerard Way and Garbriel Ba have promised more mini-series after this six-issue one concludes two issues from now.
Powers never disappoints, except for the time between issues. It's now settled down to about six weeks between issues.
Legion of Super-Heroes was okay. The reboots of recent years have sapped the legacy of the title a little; how many times can you start over in a decade? I'm looking forward to seeing what Jim Shooter can do with his return to the title that began his comic book career.
Invincible is another title that never disappoints. Issue 50 will be published in the early part of this new year, and co-creator and writer Robert Kirkman has promised a big turning point in Invincible's career. His talent at setting up plot threads in stories to develop issues in the future promise an issue that won't disappoint.

For 2008, one of the things I'm looking forward to is some relief from "event" comics. Starting with Identity Crisis in 2004, every year has led to new "big events" from both Marvel and DC. It has been hit and miss. House of M was a bit of a bust. Infinite Crisis didn't quite live up to the standard set by Crisis of Infinite Earths from the 1980's. Part of what made the original Crisis work was that after its conclusion the individual titles were given time to develop. There was a definite ending. One event series did not lead to another the following year. As much as I liked most of the conclusion to 52, Renee Montoya and Ralph Dibney's stories, WW III and the return of the multiverse not so much, these successive events seem more watered down as their conclusions don't so much resolve any conflicts as they do lead into the "event" for the following year.
After 52 I was not planning on picking up Countdown. But when I read that DC would begin to weave elements from Kingdom Come into this new weekly event, like Red Robin, I couldn't help myself. I haven't seen that so much yet in Countdown, but I have picked up Justice Society of America for as long as the Kingdom Come Superman will appear in that title. I'm not sure that I will pick up Final Crisis (any hope the title will mean final?). It depends on how Countdown concludes in the coming months. I might just to see where al of these events will lead to. Even if I do, Final Crisis will be final for me.
There were several storylines that, if not for Countdown, would have been the highlight of the year for DC, like the Sinestro Corps and the Sinestro War (even though I didn't have enough in my comics budget to buy them). They seem to have been stuck in the shadow of DC's "event" comic for 2007.
Event comics seem to have sucked the effort away from improving each character in their individual titles and forcing them into the publisher's pot to conform to the pattern set by the writers of the event series of this year. The marketing departments of both Marvel and DC seem to have concentrated their efforts to squeezing as much money out of fanboys' pockets with tie-in mini-series, outside their characters' regular titles. To me, this doesn't expand the market beyond the "fanboy" base.
My resolution for this year as a comic book reader is that, once the Final Crisis event is over, to pool my comic buying budget into the titles I really enjoy, and look for other titles that don't fit into the cape and cowl crowd, even though I still enjoy superheroes.
What's yours?
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Issue #3 Comics for the weeks of 12/28/07 & 1/4/08

Comics came out Friday, January 4th because of the New Year's holiday, and it was also my payday. I went to Bad Apple Comics ( on Saturday to pull my file.

My comics from the week of December 28, 2007:

Action Comics # 860 (DC)

Atom Eve #1 (of 2) (Image)

Countdown #18 (DC)

Dan Dare #2 (Virgin)

Legion of Super Heroes #37 (DC)

Ultimate Power #9 (of 9) (Marvel) *left in pull file until next payday*

I only had one comic book for the week of Friday, January 4, 2008:

Countdown #17 (DC)

The holidays are finally over. As much as I enjoy Christmas and New Year's Day, I'm always glad when they're over. As a kid, there was a little bit of letdown after the presents were all opened, not because I wasn't grateful for the gifts I got (and I never had a disappointing Christmas, even though there were a few things I would have liked that I never got). The month of January, and the beginning of February, is like that to me because it means the end of football season. Super Bowl Sunday is like Christmas morning, it's exciting when it starts, but there's a letdown when it's over because it means no more football to watch, except for the Pro Bowl. At least there's Arena football to tide me over until the preseason games in August.

Enough about the holidays. Here's my reviews of my pile in the oreder I read them:

Countdown #18 (DC) * * * * *

Finally! Countdown has been months of setup and brief scenes that advance the plotlines in baby steps each week. This issue contained the first major reveal, not counting the revelation of who's really behind the Amazon boot camp on Paradise Island within the last few issues. The rogue Monitor and our vagabond heroes have been bouncing around the multiverse looking for Ray Palmer. We find out why Ray Palmer was so important, and it actually makes some sense. But more important, we find out what Ray Palmer has been doing since the end of Identity Crisis several years ago. It opens at the closing scene of the mini-series, with Ray's ex-wife Jean being committed to Arkham Asylum, and he donning his Atom costume and shrinking to microscopic size. We follow him on his journey as he attempts to deal with his grief and rebuild his life. Issue 18 contains some interesting versions of familiar characters, and the bittersweet tone of the story makes for the most compelling issue yet. There is a brief scene of Mary Marvel and Jean Loring/Eclipso continuing their cosmic battle. The rest of the issue is all Ray Palmer and his world, and we're welcome to it.

The backup feature is a two-page origin of Dr. Light, who's actions loomed large in Identity Crisis.

Countdown #17 (DC) * * * *

This issue is split evenly between the Mary Marvel vs Jean Loring/Eclipso battle, which reaches a climax, and the Ray Palmer story. Ray learns that you can't run from your problems. The Paradise Island story might continue with issue sixteen. Monarch appears, starting what might be the endgame (there are only sixteen issues left, after all). Monarch's origin is the back up feature. I read his appearance in the Armageddon 2001 miniseries from 1991 (I checked my comic boxes and saw that it was published in '91, not the mid-90's as I previously posted. Note to self: check the comic boxes before I post something.), but was not familiar with his connection with Captain Atom. In a previous post I reviewed it. Monarch didn't impress me, but the summer annual tie-ins did. They reminded me of the '60's "imaginary stories", and were the most fun thing about the Armageddon event. If you can pick them up in the back issue bin, you'll find some treats. In 1994, DC published a series of Elseworlds annuals that summer. I wonder if the alternate stories in Armageddon were so popular that DC decided to update their "imaginary stories" three years later?

This issue was non-stop action, but not mindless fisticuffs. The only reason I didn't give it 5 * like issue #18 was because I'm not as interested in the Mary Marvel story as I was in the Ray Palmer story these past two issues. Of all of the issues of Countdown published so far, the Ray Palmer story is my favorite. With 52, my favorite story was Ralph Dibny, expecially the ending, followed by the Rene Montoya/Question story. I wonder if the Palmer story will be the highlight of Countdown and the rest will be a letdown? Only four more months to find out.

Dan Dare #2 (Virgin) * * * *

Dan Dare is a british comics character first published in the comic magazine Eagle and later 2000 AD. Warren Ellis listed him as an inspiration in his trade paperback Ministry of Space (* * * * *), so when I heard that Virgin Comics was bringing him back I had to check it out. I'm not at all familiar with british comics, so I like to read some british characters when I can (Albion * * * * * (DC) ). After being recruited back into the International Space Fleet in issue one, Dare reports for duty aboard the HMS Achilles, commanded by a junior female officer, the highest ranking surviving officer after the events of the first issue. Dare is that stiff upper lip british character, but to me seems more than a cardboard cliche'. Everyone is very aware of his reputation. They almost fawn over him while he wants to get on with it. The plot sets up for action in the third issue, but taking time for character development makes issue two worth reading.

Legion of Super-Heroes #37 (DC) * * * +

This issue marks Jim Shooter's return to the title that began his comic book career in the 1960's as a 13 - 14 year-old writer (Adventure Comics #346). He did his earliest scripts in picture form, using stick figures for the characters. Curt Swan drew those earliest Shooter stories. Jim was quoted in Eddy Zeno's book Curt Swan: A Life in Comics, speaking fondly of one of the first artists to illustrate his stories. Shooter's career as editor and publisher has been filled with controversy, but I was intrigued when DC announced he was returning to script the title that began his career. After Superman, the Legion is a title I think of most fondly from my childhood, when I read the book very irregularly. The reboots of recent years have taken a little luster off of the title, but Mark Waid's beginning premise was the most interesting of them.

Jom Shooter begins his story with a group of Legionnaires in the middle of a mission fighting alien creatures. Lightning Lad regrets what he wished for as Legion leader, overwhelmed by the minutiae of leadership. The Legion is picking up the pieces from the storyline from the previous creative team. Princess Projectra faces the diplomatic consequences of being a princess of a world that no longer exists. It's basically a set up issue, and if readers aren't steeped in Legion lore they mey not be as intrigued as Legion fans. New readers are aided in learning who the many Legionnaires are by text boxes that give the hero name and power of each Legion hero. The story has a nice balance of super-hero action and character development. It's as good an issue as any for new readers to jump in.

Action # 860 (DC) * * * * *

Director Richard Donner is no longer listed as co-plotter or writer with Geoff Johns, but Geoff continues his typically excellent storytelling. This is the third issue of the story Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes. This story is "ret-coning" Superman and Legion continuity. In the original stories the Legion was inspired by Superboy. Since Clark Kent never became Superboy in post-crisis continuity, Johns revises the Legion origin by showing them visiting a young Clark Kent in Smallville. The small group of time travelers comfort a teen-ager struggling with what he is becoming, since Clark's powers only appear gradually in new continuity.

The Legion have brought Superman to a 31st century that is a far darker place than the utopia of silver age stories. A 31st century Justice League have driven the Legion underground, using the legend of Superman as propganda for their zenophopic campaign to drive aliens off Earth. To make matters worse, Earth's sun has been changed to a red star, leaving Superman without powers. But Kal-El shows that powers don't make the hero as he battles alongside his fellow Legionnaires. The 31st century Justice League has several members who began as 1960's Legion of Super-Villain members Spider-Girl (decades before May Parker at Marvel), Radiation Roy, and Nemesis Kid (starting with Adventure Comics #320). This story does what the best Superman stories do, find a way to really challenge him and show him overcome the threat. With a character as powerful as Superman that's not an easy thing to do, which is why Superman comics have been up and down so many times over the years. Even readers who don't care for the "big blue boy scout" should find this story compelling. It has a very dark tone for readers who like "dark" characters like Batman or Wolverine.

Atom Eve #1 (of 2) (Image) * * * +

Atom Eve is one of the main supporting characters of Invincible, especially after recent issues. The creators, Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker, aren't on this issue as writer and artist, respectively. Cory Walker no longer draws Invincible, and Robert Kirkman only serves as editor of Atom Eve. The layout of the story feels just like a Robet Kirkman written issue of Invincible. Atom Eve's origin was first published as a backup feature in Invincible #25, along with some other characters. This issue expands on that original three page origin, from Atom Eve's mysterious birth to the beginning of her super-hero career. We see another dark side to the Global Defense Agency underneath the Pentagon. Robert Kirkman's strength is weaving plot lines into issues that will develop in future issues. I can't help but wonder how events shown in this issue, and #2, will fit into the upcoming issue 50 in three months. Kirkman has promised #50 will be a big issue in Invincible's life. He has yet to disappoint. I would have given this issue 4 *'s, but the art in the beginning was a little rough. Heads in several panels were too big for thier bodies, but the art improved and the rest of the issue was as enjoyable as any story written by Kirkman. Issue 2 promises more of the same.

Next week, on Wednesday January 9, 2008 I only have one title I'm scheduled to pick up:

Countdown #16 (DC)

I will have to wait until payday on Friday, January 18th to pick it up and see if anything else interests me. I've noticed while searching DC Comics website that I missed December's Justice Society of America #11, so I'll have to see if Bad Apple Comics has any copies left over, or have them order one.

Meanwhile, I'll take the opportunity to fill the next blog with a year in review, concentrating on the "event" comics that have been so prevalent in recent years.

I look forward to reading your comments, and what's on your pull list.

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