Thursday, February 19, 2009

Issue #45: Comic Books For The Week of Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Supergirl #38 (New Krypton #41) (DC)
Noble Causes #39 (Image)
Invincible #59 (Image)

Supergirl #38 (New Krypton #14) (DC) * * * *
The cover carries the Omens & Origins banner.This issue opens with the battle between Supergirl and Superwoman, begun on the last page of the previous issue. The investigation into the death of Agent Liberty takes an interesting turn. There is a nice scene between Kara and Lana. We also see what happens between the guy with flowers and his girlfriend, as well as Superwoman's search for Reactron. And finally we find an interesting clue to the identity of Superwoman. The Supergirl Origins & Omens back up story gives some hints to upcoming plots in Supergirl. Now that I've gotten an idea what the Origins & Omens feature, which is just hints at upcoming plots of whatever title it appears in, it's lost its appeal. The plots hinted at are interesting, and it's obviously tied into the upcoming Darkest Night story in Green Lantern, it's not as big of a deal as I originally thought.

Supergirl continues to be a great title involving Kar and New Krypton. While I've just been reading Supergirl during the New Krypton story, and will drop the book at the conclusion of the Superwoman story in issue #41 (if that ends Supergirl's involvement in the New Krypton story), I've read how previous issues seemed to wander without a clear vision for Kara. During New Krypton that does not seem to be a problem. Kara is faced with hard choices that will have long term repercussions on her life, no matter which side she takes. It's a great way to grow the character.

Noble Causes #39 (Image) * * * * *
Well, just one more issue to go. My enjoyment of this issue was the retro cover, looking like a 1960's or 1970's romance comic (which I never read; they were beneath a sophisticated super hero comic book reader like me). The flashback pages are done in a similar style, with yellowed pages and the crude coloring of that era, when compared to today. In this issue we learn the origin of her relationship with Colonel Comet. The issue ends with a very interesting conversation with someone I won't mention here. And the ending of this issue will lead into an interesting last issue indeed.

Invincible #59 (Image) * * * * *
This issue deals with something most super hero comics ignore, collateral damage and the people hurt by it. This is the most interesting villain origin I have read in a long time, no melodramatic delusions of world domination, just a very personal motive. It also shows how events from long ago can affect a super hero. Also, the consequences of the battle in this issue are heart rending in a way most hero comics aren't. That's a Krrkman strength, showing how a super hero affects even everyday life.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Issue #44: Comic Books For The Week Of Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Batman #686 (Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader part I) (DC)
Action Comics #874 (New Krypton #13) (DC)

Batman #686 (Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader part I) (DC) * * * * *
I don't normally collect any of the Batman titles, and haven't for a while. I love the character and his supporting cast, but I can't squeeze any of the Bat titles into my budget. However there was no way I was going to pass up any Batman story titled Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader. I've watched the Diamond new releases list each week to make sure I wouldn't miss the story when it was published. Well that week finally arrived. At the very least it kept me from leaving Acme Comics ( ) with only the new Action issue. This issue had two covers, an Adam Kubert cover of aall of the Bat supporting characters in line as if to pay their last respects to the caped crusader. The other cover was an Alex Ross cover of a sad, or grieving Alfred holding the cape and cowl. Being the Alex Ross fan that I am there was no way I was going to pass up a Ross cover. I'd love to have this cover as a poster. For that matter I'd love to have an office for all of my comic boxes and drawing table big enough to decorate with lost of Alex Ross posters.

On my drive home from Acme, which is a 45 minute drive, I was thinking about this "last" Batman story, and comparing it to the recently concluded Grant Morrison written Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis. Whereas Morrison can be dense (or is it us readers) if not incomprehensible, Neil Gaiman can write bizarre stories as well as Morrison, but tells a clearer story. We don't have to scratch our heads and wonder what we just read. Several years ago I went to MegaCon, the Orlando, FL comic book convention. At a writer's panel consisting of Howard Chaykin, Jimmy Palmiotti, Barbara Kesel and some novelist who also wrote comics I have never read. One of the pointers that I learned from that panel was that the reader should never have to work to understand a story. Some writers may want to be more avant gard or experimental but in the end it's the writer's job to clearly communicate his or her story to the reader. This seems a lesson that Morrison seems to forget at times. He wrote one of my favorite Superman stories of all time in All-Star Superman. I have to admit I only read the final issue of Final Crisis, but I've listened to a number of comic book podcasts which have had the same opinion of Final Crisis. the only Morrison Final Crisis tie-in I read was Superman Beyond 3-D. As bizarre of a story as it was, I was still able to understand the story and be satisfied with the conclusion, which led into some events of the conclusion of Final Crisis.

About Batman #686 itself, the story opens with a member of the Batman supporting cast arriving at a bar. In the back room people are arriving to remember Batman. The first page had a very nice tribute to Batman's uncredited, and in my opinion more important, co-creator Bill Finger. In this first part, two members of Batman's supporting cast give different views of their relationship with Batman. While they touch on various twists and turns of their individual histories, the conclusions of their stories are both shocking, in different ways. I have to admit that I have not read much of Neil Gaiman's work (my loss) like Sandman, and this issue made me want to read more of his comic book work. I can't wait to read the concluding chapter of this story in Detective Comics #853. According to Alex Ross will not be drawing a variant cover, but Adam Kubert will have a variant sketch cover. I might get the variant cover for that issue. I'll decide when I see both of them.

Action Comics #874 (New Krypton #13) (DC) * * * *
This issue carried the Origins & Omens banner, which featured the Guardian in the back up story. The main story involving Superman and Mon-El, featured on the cover, was more satisfying than the last chapter of New Krypton. Superman confronts Allura about General Zod being released from the Phantom Zone. While her logic was flawless, General Zod being General Zod, can we really trust him? Allura's words give Superman a lot to think about when he returns to Lois. I won't mention how Mon-El fits into the story. I don't want to spoil it. On the DC Nation page, in it's Next In ... box it said that Superman #685 will be the concluding chapter of New Krypton. The cover appears to be another Alex Ross work of Superman holding a fallen Pa Kent, who looks like the traditional Pa we have been familialr with, not the revised version who appeared in the last several years until his death at the end of the Brainiac story. It looks to be a satisfying conclusion to a mostly excellent New Krypton story.

I would have given this issue 5 ( * ) but I had to knock one off because of the art. It's not terrible, it's just that didn't like penciller Pablo Raimondi's version of Sueprman. The rest of his art was fine. In some panels Superman's hair was a little too messy for my taste. It seemed to get better after the first scene. I didn't like it as well as I have Gary Frank's art. But that's a minor quibble compared to how much I did enjoy this story. The plot development in this story made me look forward to Superman's adventures for the rest of the year, as have the previous issues of the New Krypton story.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Issue #43: Comic Books For The Week Of Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Adventure Comics #0 (DC)
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #3 (of 5) (DC)

Normally I would have waited until pay day on Friday, February 13 to pick up my comic books from Acme Comics but I've been waiting for these two titles to be published. While I waited until today (Saturday February 7, 2009) to pick them up, I couldn't wait another week to read them.

Adventure Comics #0 (DC) * * * * *
As a Legion fan, what's not to like about a reprint of the first Legion story? To think about the fully developed world of the 30th, now the 31st century, from such a simple story, it's always fun to look back and read where everything began. The second feature, Origins & Omens, which will appear in a number of DC titles, involves the Black Lanterns and Luthor and Brainiac. When the Legion returns to Adventure Comics in June, a title that originally predated Action and Detective, this back story leaves me wondering how the events portrayed here will affect the Legion in the 31st century. Not that I need a reason to read a Legion title. June can't get here soon enough.

Legion of 3 Worlds #3 (of 5) (DC) * * * * *
It does seem odd that the third issue of this title is only now appearing at comic book stores, when the regular Final Crisis mini-series has finished, especially when events at the conclusion of Final Crisis follow events yet to appear in this title. That is y only criticism involving this title. With George Perez's legendary detail in his art delaying publication I can understand. It was worth the wait. Geoff Johns knows how to write action packed issues. This is one lond battle, slugfest, whatever you want to call it. But it's not mindless fisticuffs. The individual personalities of the cahracters, both heroes and villains, are expressed in this issue. And this battle is not without casualties, and I felt each loss. A Legion team returns to 20th century Smallville, but not to find who you might think. The only hint I'll leave is to mention that this was a nice nod to silver age Superboy continuity. And the character who makes an appearance at the end of the issue was one I did not expect. According to DC Comics web site, issue #4 is scheduled to be published during the last week of March, so it won't quite be two months until the next issue.

Another thing I am looking forward to about the Legion of super-Heroes is to see Geoff John's vision for the Legion. With at least three "reboots" in the last few years, it seems the Legion has drifted without one unifying vision that writers can add to as they come and go on the title. Johns knows how to respect what has appeared before, weave them together with his vision of where he wants to take the title, and leave a fantastic story for Legion fans to enjoy, as he has in Action Comics. So I am looking forward to seeing where Legion of 3 Worlds will leave the Legion, and where Adventure Comics will take them.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Issue #42: Comic Books For The Week Of Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Final Crisis #7 (of 7) (DC)
Justice Society of Amaerica #23 (DC)
Legion of Super-Heroes #50 (DC)
Fantastic Four #563 (Marvel)
Terry Moore's Echo #9 (Abstract Studios)
Superman #684 (New Krypton #12) (DC)
The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #3 )of 6) (Dark Horse)

Final Crisis #7 (of 7) (DC) * * *
First of all, I should note that I did not read any of the previous issues of Final Crisis. I was hooked into buying the last issue of this event series from a preview of the first scene of this issue. It showed the White House of one of the multiple Earths, reflecting recent events in the news on our Earth (which is all I will say to avoid any spoilers). So my views don't reflect reading any of the previous issues. The art was fantastic, and some of the events of this issue followed the conclusion of the Superman Beyond 3D, which I did understand. Having only read this concluding issue, I can't say how the conclusion will affect the DC Universe. What I have heard from some podcasts I have listened to about Final Crisis, there are a lot of people who did read this entire series scratching their heads. The story jumps back and forth in time, and was somewhat incomprehensible. I enjoy comic book stories that have a lot of layers to the story, like Watchmen, but it did a better job of telling a comprehensible story through time hopping,ala Dr. Manhatten, than Final Crisis did. Some events seem to follow the conclusion to Legion of 3 Worlds, which has yet to conclude, and which I am also reading. Morrison's All-Star Superman was a lot better story. Final Crisis seemed to break one of the cardinal rules of storytelling: The reader should not have to work to understand the story.

Justice Society of America #23 (DC) * * * *
This issue was a Faces of Evil tie-in featuring Black Adam, with an Alex Ross cover. The issue begins with the JSA dealing with the consequences of the Kingdom Come story, and Black Adam's quest to resurrect his beloved Isis. This Jerry Ordway drawn story is setting up the next JSA story involving the Marvel family. This issue is not all set up. It has a few shocking developments. There are a few "easter eggs" such as Tawney Flakes and a Fawcett newspaper (I won't tell you where they are). This was put in my pull list, even though I had dropped the book, but the Jerry Ordway art hooked me. I wanted to at least see what the next story was shaping up to be. If there weren't other titles I want to budget for I would continue collecting this title. But this will be the last issue of JSA I collect, for a while.

Legion of Super-Heroes #50 (DC) * * *
This is the last issue of the LSH, which will move over to a new Adventure Comics (#0 scheduled to be published the first Wednesday in February). This issue wraps up the battle with the rogue planet,with Brainiac 5 having devised a battle plan. The battle takes up almost all of the issue. Brainiac 5's tactics are brilliant, as usual, and the end has an unexpected surprise, but the issue itself was all action and little character development a Legion issue usually has. It was an ok storybut I was expecting something more from the last issue of a Legion title. I am looking forward to the new Adventure Comics, which I've heard will be written by Geoff Johns. That excites me very much, with how well he has done on Action Comics.

Fantastic Four #563 (Marvel) * * * * *
The FF celebrate with Ben his recent engagement. Even though most of this issue was full of "quiet" moments, when it's full of character development, it's as interesting to me as an action packed issue. The end of the issue has a lot of action, as Dr. Doom's mysterious mentors appear on the Earth of an alternate dimension. This issue is setting up another fantastic FF story by Mark Millar and Brian Hitch.

Terry Moore's Echo #9 (Abstract Studios) * * * * *
This is a quiet issue, which is needed after the catastrophic events of the previous issue. "Quiet" issues are just as important as action issues. For me as a reader, they give us a chance to catch our breath along with the characters. When a writer and artist can hold readers interests in a "quiet" issue, it shows their talent as much as action issues. Terry Moore succeeds in this regard. Ivy wraps up her investigation into the events of the motel, and her questioning of the waitress who served Julie and Dillon is revealing about Ivy herself.

Superman #684 (New Krypton #12) (DC) * * *
This is the first mediocre issue of the New Krypoton story. The Faces of Evil tie-in with Parasite, showing his extraction from the Phantom Zone, doesn't advance the New Krypton plot. The most interesting development involves The Guardian. The big reveal at the end is news to Superman, but not for us. The feature about the Parasite shows how creepy he is, beyond his looks, but doesn't bring anything new to the New Krypton story. And I have to ask about the Faces of Evil tie-ins, what's the point. Are theses issues leading into something, or just a spotlight on the various villains of the DCU?

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #3 (of 6) (Dark Horse) * * * * *
This issue reveals more of #5's journey from the future, and the mysterious assassins who are hunting him. And we get a very interesting look into the afterlife. Gerard Way is showing he is not falling for the "sophmore jinx". this second mini-series builds on the original one, and brings depth to the characters. And the threat to the heroes is even greater than what they faced in that first story. As long as he will publish Umbrella Academy mini-series I'll be reading them.

Trade Paperback Special: The New Frontier vol's. I & II (DC) * * * * *
I missed out on this title when it came out in the original issues, and I've regretted it ever since, especially after buying the Justice League: New Frontier animated DVD. I took my daughter shopping at the Sanford Mall, where Coliseum of Comics was having a grand opening event. I got $5.00 off both volumes and I was not disappointed. Darwyn Cooke takes all of the silver age characters, even the non-super hero ones like the Losers, Suicide Squad and the Challengers of the Unknown, and weaves them into a tale that shows the fall of the Justice Society and the rise of the Justice League. And Cooke creates a threat that demands they all need to join forces in order to defeat it. The threat is enough to challenge all of our heroes, and is frightening indeed. This two volume trade paperback was worth the wait, and I have had to re-read it already. If you have not read New Frontier, buy it, and make sure you get both volumes. If you just get the first one, you won't be able to rest unril you read the concluding volume.

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