Thursday, July 24, 2008

Issue #25: Comic Books For The Week of Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Legion of Super-Heroes #44 (DC)
Superman #678 (DC)
Invincible #51 (Image)
Dan Dare #7 (of 7) (Virgin)

Last week I watched The Dark Knight at the theater. This Wednesday, before I went to my local comic book shop, Bad Apple Comics (, my sister and I went to see Wall-E. While The Incredibles is still my favorite Pixar movie, Wall-E is a close second. It's clear with each movie that Pixar Studios makes a quantum jump in their technological ability with computer animation, yet they have never fallen into the trap so many other studios have done with their CGI movies. Pixar has never forgotten the importance of story quality and well developed characters. The first part of Wall-E has very sparse dialogue, yet the visuals tell the story flawlessly, and develop emotion in the characters that draws us in. Add Wall-E to your list of must see summer movies.

Legion of Super-Heroes #44 (DC) * * * *
Everything comes to a head for the Legion on all fronts, HQ, Rimbor and Velmar V. The UP is about to close down the Legion and their various teams are inder fire from either space pirates of the Science Police. The cover is a cool design, with the logo diagonally with the figures in the foreground. Ultra-Boy is reaching to save a woman who is falling off a tall building. The art inside is different, a little cartoony. It's not my favorite but doesn't detract me from enjoying the story. And how the remaining Legionaires at HQ come up with an original and humorous way to solve their problems. But there is no time to catch their breath, as a new threat appears requiring the Legion's help. This was another fun issue, with lots of Legion action, and I enjoyed watching the Legion find a way out of impossible situations. The next issue looks like it will start a new storyline.

Superman #678 (DC) * * * *
This issue begins's Superman's fight with Atlas, but it's not the end of their battle. The story was more than just two capes tarding fists like I expected. We see a flashback of Clark and Lois at breakfast,a s well as the origin of Atlas himself, drawn in a Kirbyesque style. We also meet someone else who has plans for Superman's destruciton. It's a better than average issue, but Action Comics still feels like it has the best Superman stories, after the yet to be published last issue of All-Star Superman.

Invincible #50 (Image) * * * *
This latest issue of Invincible begins to set up the next storyline, after the life-changing events of the previous issue. Invincible's friends set up shop in the old Teen Team HQ, and the Guardians of the Globe regroup after their split. Things change for Mark also on the home front. Invincible and his half brother Oliver team up for the first time as super hero partners with mixed results. Atom Eve moves back to America and a surprising character makes an appearance at the end of the issue. This issue had some fun super hero action, but nothing really "big" happens. After the big 50th issue that's okay. After big issues like that an issue like this is just fine. It's important to have issues that are a little quieter to catch our breath as readers. The new plotlines started in this issue promise some great stories in future issues. The very back has a preview of the new FireBreather title, and the next issue teaser is a surprise.

Dan Dare #7 (of 7) (Virgin) * * * * *
This first mini-series of the Virgin Comics' edition of Dan Dare ends with all guns blazing, literally. Lt. Christian continues to show she has the starch in her back to command over the Admiral that Dare jumped her over to command the task force. We learn from Peabody, the Home Secretary and acting Prime Minister, why Dare lived in seclusion on an asteroid at the beginning of this mini-series, after the last great battle against the Mekon. Victory is not painless nor without casualties, especially deaths that hit close to home. Apparently the next Dan Dare mini-series will be published this fall, according to a teaser on the inside back cover. Dan Dare is among the best comics, lots of action that uses the action to advance character development as well as plot. I will definitely be picking up the next Dan Dare story this fall, and I fully expect it to remain among my favorites.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Issue #24: The Dark Knight Review

This is another rare week when nothing on my pull list was published, and so I didn't visit my local comic book shop Bad Apple Comics. I was one of those people who went to the 12:01 am showings of The Dark Knight. I took my daughter and one of her best friends. The movie itself wasn't the only thing I looked forward to seeing on the big screen. Comic book websites reported that the first Watchmen movie preview would be shown before The Dark Knight. Neither one disappointed me. Every scene shown in the preview I recognized from the Wathcmen trade paperback, and the characters were easily recognizable. Even the few snippets of dialogue seemed to be quotes from the graphic novel. If there is a midnight showing for Watchmen I'll be in line to see it then.

The Dark Knight  *  *  *  *  *
The movie was definitely dark. We see the many consequences of Batman's fight against crime and corruption. There is a personal cost to this battle as well. From the copycat Batmen who do more harm to themselves than they help, to the cost inflicted on Bruce Wayne's soul, Christian Bale perfectly shows the weight on his character's shoulders. There is a personal cost to those close to Bruce, from his childhood friend and former love Rachel Dawes to the new D. A. Harvey Dent, not to mention Jim Gordon, who may not be married when the next Batman movie opens.
Like when all the bugs scatter when you find a nest in your home, the corrupt officials and criminals scatter and make life chaos in Gotham. Gordon can't seem to find many honest cops on the police force and Harvey Dent has all he can handle to prosecute criminals in court.
Then the Joker shows up and shows Gotham City what chaos and anarchy really is. The late Heath Ledger is the definitive Joker. As much as I enjoyed the Jack Nicholson version, the Heath Ledger Joker is probably what the Joker would be if he actually existed. let's hope he stays on the comic book page or the movie screen. What makes the Joker the most frightening is that he is not motivated by revenge or greed. He just wants to create chaos and watch the city collapse on itself. He lives just to destroy.
The plot is very complex, and The Dark Knight succeeds where Spider Man 3 fails. TDK juggles the several plots and keeps all of them from falling to the floor. There is enough time and story to give depth to each plot and give all of the characters full development in the story. The closer to the climax of the movie, the more intertwined the main characters become.
Batman shows his dedication to freeing Gotham City from the grasp of corruption and crime by making impossible choices, no matter the risk to himself. The ending sets up the next Batman movie to be even darker for the Dark Knight than before.
I would even rate this movie even better than its predecessor Batman Begins which I felt previously was the best Batman movie. Now it's a close second. I can't wait until the DVD is released for the holidays.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Issue #23: Comic Books For the Week of Thursday, July 10, 2008

New comic books were delayed at Bad Apple Comics ( a day because of the Independence Day holiday, which meant one more day I had to wait for the latest issue of Powers, which was already 2 1/2 months late already. So, what was one more day, right? It was worth the wait, as always, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Todd Nauck's Wildguard Insider #3 (of 3) (Image)
Justice Society of America #17 (DC)
Ultimate Origins #2 (Marvel)
Action Comics #867 (DC)
Powers #29 (Icon / Marvel)

Todd Nauck's Wildguard Insider #3 (of 3) (Image) * * * *
This latest ini-series of the Wildguard heroes was a fun read. It was fun reading Todd Nauck create original versions of heroes that we have seen many copycats of over the years. Snapback is the latest in a long line of elastic heroes, but Todd presents him in an original story, and flashbacks to his past. Next are more strips from the web comic, and then two more installments of Where Are They Now?, starring Strong-Bot and Running Girl.

Justice Society of America #17 (DC) * * * *
We see Damage dealing with what happened to him at the end of the last issue, the entire DC pantheon almost meeting Gog for themselves, and heroes and religious institutions coming to grips with a god walking the Earth. And we get a lead-in to JSA Annual #1. Gog has cured famine and disease. That leaves what -- war? There might be trouble ahead.

Ultimate Origins #2 (Marvel) * * * * *
This issue is mostly a retelling of Captain America's origin. We enven get to meet the Ultimat's Dum Dum Dugan, although without the derby hat. Instead of being a boring rerun, we get pulled in to Steve Roger's anguish at his frail body keeping him from fulfilling his duty, and see how he becomes Captain America. The beginning of the issue takes place today, and the rest is a flashback, but we are left to wonder how Cap's origin ties into what Dr. Banner mentioned in the first issue.

Action Comics #867 (DC) * * * * *
Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Jon Sibal continue to excel with Brainiac: Part 2 Hide and Seek. We learn more about Brainiac through the eyes of Kara Zor-El, who lived on Krypton during Brainiac's attack there. Her memories add a sense of terror to Brainiac's menace. After a touching visit to the Kents in Smallville, Superman decides to take the fight to Brainiac, after a funny scene at the Daily Planet. That light moment is a nice break in a very grim issue. And the concluding scene is earth shattering.

Powers #29 (Icon / Marvel) * * * * *
I always save Powers for last because I always know it will be the best read of the week. This week is no different. It's just that once again there was a long wait between issues. On a comic book news web site (I forget which one) artist Michael Avon Oeming talked about the problems with the book, either he or Bendis would get behind as the other got caught up on the book. He also said they hopefully have figured out a way to keep the book on schedule. They've said that before, and I hope this time they can make it stick. Then, again, it's not like these men aren't busy. The issue begins with Calista (Retro Girl) captured by the powers virus villains, and Deena finally in police custody, in the aftermath of the night club attack. Detective Stone of Internal Affairs is circling for the kill, and we find out what exactly Deena has been doing since she went missing from the police force. That's all I can say without spoiling the rest of the story. All I can say is that the police put her information to good use. And Deena has one more shocking development (no pun intended) at the end of the story. I hope issue #30 comes out on time next month, so I can save it until last to read what happens next to Deena and Christian, and Calista as well.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Issue #22: Comic Books For The Week Of July 2, 2008

Joe Kubert's Tor #3 (of 6) (DC)
Echo #4 (Abstract Studios)
Legion of Super-Heroes #43 (DC)
Noble Causes #35 (Image)

Joe Kubert's Tor #3 (of 6) (DC) * * * * *
Joe Kubert continues to show his seventy years of experience and mastery of the comic book form. The story is done like an old fashioned adventure strip, with no word balloons. Instead captions narrate the story. Even though the characters do not speak they carry emotional weight, drawing me into caring what happens to them. We learn the secret of the four-armed giant and are introduced to another character that Tor is attracted to. And we learn of previously unknown dangers in this prehistoric land. When this mini-series is completed it will rank up there with Wathcmen as textbooks on how to create a comic book story.

Echo #4 (Abstract Studios) * * * * *
This story is really getting rolling now. We see the aftermath of the attack on the computer guy by the berserk old man with the metallic hand. Julie downloads the photographs she took in the first issue into her computer. They lead her to return to the desert area to investigate, drawing some unwanted attention. Annie's boyfriend visits the offices of the defense contractor to look for her. And we see a flashback of Annie with the mysterious alloy on her body. To tell any more would spoil the scene. In the back we also have some development sketches by Terry Moore. His realistic portrayal of people, especially women, and strong story development guarantees any comic book Terry Moore does will be an excellent issue.

Legion of Super-Heroes #43 (DC) * * * * *
The Legion team on Rimbor are on the run from the Science Police, and Legion HQ is searched by the SP as well. The Legion team in the Rigel system tries to rescue the SP and the UP'
s Young Heroes who have been captured by the planet's new tenants. It seems the whole universe is conspiring against the Legion, and there seems to be no way for the Legion to triumph. I can't wait to see how they do it, as well as how LSH leads into the Final Crisis tie-in Legion of Three Worlds. This is the only Final Crisis mini-series I will be reading; I'm not picking up the main event series itself, for budgetary reasons.

Noble Causes #35 (Image) * * * * *
The issue opens with a body found at the edge of a body of water. Olympia's visit with Gaia develops in a way I didn't expect (not that it's hard to do) butis very dramatic nonetheless. The Nobles discover the cause of their brief security blackout and leave to investigate. And at the end of the issue we find the real reason for the infiltration of Noble Island. The intrigues and story twists make Jay Faerber another must read every month.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Issue #21: Comic Books For The Week of Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wildguard Insider #2 (of 3) (Image)
Project Superpowers #4 (of7) (Dynamite Entertainment)
Mythos: Captain America #1 (Marvel)
Fantastic Four (#558) (Marvel)
Superman #677 (DC)

Wildguard #2 (of 3) * * * *
Lily Hammer sees strange apparitions that ask her very pointed questions during her appearance at a late night talk show, a woman who was attacked by a super villain explains her connetion to her attacker to Four, who then has a talk with Freezerburn. At the end are two "Where Are They Now?" features with Astro-Girl and Power Temp. There isn't a lot of immediate action, except in flashback, but seeing super heroes dealing with the aftermath of their heroics makes for interesting character development.

Project Superpowers #4 (of 7) (Dynamite Entertainment) * * * *
The Dynamic Family leave New York, overrun by vegetation at the hands of the Green Lama. The Flame and Hydro surrender to authorities in Hollywood. We learn more about the spirits that guided Fighting Yank, and Green Lama transports everyone from Shangri-La to New York, including Black Terror, calling it New Shangri-La. The Scarab and Samson find a horrific "hospital" with monstrous patients. The Dynamic Family has ties to something called the "F-Troop Squadron". We learn more about the Devil, and Pyroman comes to the aid of the Flame and Hydro. The story is really beginning to move along, as most of the character introductions are done. The story threads are beginning to appear, but judging by the back cover we aren't done with hero introductions yet. In the back are features on the heroes Pyroman and The Flame, as well as a two page spread of more Golden Age character sketches done by ALex Ross. I wonder how much of a climax issue seven will have room for with so many heroes introduced in the first four issues, plus a second mini-series to begin later this year. It still is fun to get a look at some of the obscure characters from the golden age of comics. I had no idea there had been so many.

Mythos: Captain America (#1) (Marvel) * * * * *
This is the second issue of Mythos. The first retold and expanded the origin of the Fantastic Four. This issue does the same for Captain America. Cap is about to slug someone, and in the reflection of his original triangular shield, we see the terrorized expression of Adolph Hitler. A very clever reprise of the cover of Captain America #1. The title page notes that Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Captain America's origin is expanded, showing Steve Rogers' family life before he volunteered for the super soldier experiment. It then highlights Cap's wartime adventures, his time in suspended animation, and his reawakening to become leader of the Avengers. The ending is especially touching, and hearkens back to the beginning of Steve Rogers story.

Fantastic Four #558 (Marvel) * * * *
The cover shows a battered Doctor Doom, and the ominous title, Starting This Issue: The Death of the Invisible Woman". Dr. Doom, in the Thing's arms, calls for Reed's help. They are immediately attacked by the group that apparently had originally attacked Dr. Doom. Ben is easily dispatched, and his girlfriend and the nanny candidate take Franklin and Valeria to a safe room. We learn who Johnny's bad girlfriend is working with. And Valeria and Mrs. Deneuve, the nanny candidate forge an unusual bond, which creates a mystery about Valeria. The Millar-Hitch story continues to rank among the best FF stories, right up there with Lee and Kirby.

Superman #677 (DC) * * *
This issue has an impressive Alex Ross cover of Superman lifting the Daily Planet globe, hinting at an actual event inside. And the story title, In The Shadow of Atlas, ties into the cover as well. The issue begins with Superman and Green Lantern talking in outer space while Superman plays catch with Krypto. It is a nice character scene between a man and his dog, and the tohoughts we are privy to of Hal Jordan. The scene shifts to Metropolis, presumably while Superman is in space, and the Metropolis Science Police battling a giant monster rampaging through Metropolis. We are introduced to the team through the thoughts of one of its members, Travis DuBarry. Then we are introduced to Atlas, who calls for Superman in a challenge. The battle takes up most of the issue. It's an introductory chapter of a new storyline, and is thus a light read. The best part of the story is the opening scene. The rest is an introduction to Superman's next antagonist. It wasn't a bad issue, just an average one. The opening scene shows promise for new writer James Robinson's handle on character development. I remain hopeful for the rest of the story, and hope that Atlas doesn't develop into just another villain of the month.

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