Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Issue #51: Comic books for the week of Wednesday, April 22, 2009!

Comic books for the week of Wednesday, April 22, 2009:

Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion #5 (of 6) (DC)
Supergirl #40 (New Krypton #22) (DC)
Invincible #61 (Image)
Detective Comics #853 (Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader, part II) (DC)

After Watchmen ... What's Next:

Preacher #1 (Vertigo / DC)
Transmetropolitan #1 (Vertigo / DC)

Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion #5 (of 6) (DC) * * * * *

This fictional look at a historical WWII battle has shown the depth of research done by writer and artist Billy Tucci. Two previous attempts by Allied troops to rescue the Lost Batallion have failed, and this issue sets up the final battle in the concluding issue. Not only does this mini-series incorporate historical accuracy, it also includes various characters from DC Comics line of war comics including, of course, Sgt. Rock and the Haunted Tank. This issue continues Tucci's excellent job of portraying the quiet moments between soldiers before the next terror of battle. In the banter between a Texas soldier and a French rifleman, we learn of a French Foreign Legion version of the Alamo, also against Mexico. The all Japanese-American 442nd Regiment continues to be highlighted, and their valor is shown in this issue. In the last panel I swear that line came from a Bill Mauldin Stars & Stripes cartoon from WWII.

Supergirl #40 (New Krypton #22) (DC) * * * * *

Supergirl shows more cunning in battle in this issue than any other I've read of her title, and her cape becomes more than a fashion statement as well. She also discovers who Superwoman really is. I won't mention who it is, but I was surprised that one of my guesses was right. It doesn't happen very often. Cat Grant is a little too nosy for Lana's comfort, and I wonder if it will lead to something in later issues. Speaking of Lana, there is a new development in her life as well. What I liked about this issue is that it showed Supergirl's progress in becoming a super hero in her own right. She's not there yet, but she shows she has learned the lessons taught her by the more experienced heroes.

Invincible #61 (Image) * * * * *

This issue is picking up the pieces, literally, from the Invincible War. The banner at the top of the cover says Invincible War: Aftermath, after all. The issue is titled Conquest: Part One, beginning the next storyline. Writer Robert Kirkman does his usual excellent job of weaving plot points into the narrative that will lead to developments in later issues, none of them good for Invincible. The heroes, and the world in general, begin the long process of rebuilding after the carnage of the last issue. And just when Invincible thought it couldn't get any worse, and at the worst moment, it does at the end of the issue. Kirkman is not afraid of putting his super heroes throught the ringer, and then doing it again before they can catch a breath. As Invincible becomes a more experienced super hero, the threats he faces also become greater The question is can be the equal to the next one. That is what keeps bringing me back for the next issue. This one is no different.

Detective Comics #686 (Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? part II) (DC) * * * * *

This is part two of the story Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? begun in Batman #853. This is a Neil Gaiman story, especially in the ending. The cover of the Batman issue I bought was the alternate Alex Ross cover of a grieving Alfred holding the cape and cowl. There was no Ross alternate cover for the Detective issue, but Andy Kubert's homage to the first Batman cover of Detective #27 was still great. This issue has more of Batman's supporting cast, heroes and villains alike, each tell their own version of Batman's death. Just like in part I, in this issue everyone's story is completely different, and a completely different version of Batman from his long history is portrayed. And Batman himself, mostly off panel in both parts, remains the detective as he tries to solve this mystery.The ending of this story is a little amiguous, but a lot more satisfying than Grant Morrison's Batman R.I.P. or Final Crisis. This was a very satisfying story that left me satisfied that there will always be a Batman.

After Watchmen ... What's Next? is DC Comics' marketing tool to introduce new adult comic book readers, who may have been attracted to the Watchmen movie and trade paperback, to other attractive titles for mature readers. Of course they are featuring their Vertigo line of titles, so DC has reprinted the first issues of some of their alternative titles, including Planetary from Wildstorm. The two titles I picked up, since I already have all of the Planetary issues (and is eagerly waiting on epilogue issue #27), were the first issues of Preacher and Transmetropolitan. I am familiar with both titles but had never had an opportunity to read either title and thought that this would be a good opportunity to remedy the situation. When I saw copies of these issues at Acme Comics, , I had to buy both of them, and they were specially priced at only $1.00. If you haven't checked out any of these titles, which carry the AWWN? banner, they are at the perfect price to try them.

Preacher #1 (Vertigo / DC) * * * * *

This first issue of Garth Ennis' treatise against religion tells the story of a disillusioned pastor of a small town Texas church who is possessed by the Genesis entity, which has escaped heaven. The series, which has ended and is now available in trade paperback, is about this former pastor's journey as he discovers the secrets of heaven and hell. This first issue sets up an intriguing story that I'll have to check out sometime. It's take on religion is controversial, but I'm not worried about it making me doubt my faith. I haven't read much of Garth Ennis' stories but this first issue shows he knows how to create a story.

Transmetropolitan #1 (Vertigo / DC) * * * * *

Being a fan of Planetary, I had to check out this earlier title. The main character, Spider Jerusalem, reminded me of the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, looking like Alan Moore, at least in the beginning. He has been living secluded in a mountain cabin, but is forced to return to the city to fulfill a book contract. The years in the cabin have left him without anything in his creative tank, and so he returns to the city for inspiration. That means returning to a job at a newspaper. The city is like no city we've ever seen before, a futuristic hi-tech city with a different type of alien immigration problem. Once Spider "cleans up" he reminds me of Jack Carter, a character in Planetary #7, because of his tattoos.

Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 2, 2009. Support your local comic book store, or if you haven't been to a comic book store but are interested in reading comics, this Saturday is a perfect day to try them out. While you're there, try to buy something from the store, because the FCBD titles are paid for by the comic book store owners. Check with your local comic store owner for their limits on the number of free titles you can get. Most stores do various promotions, so take advantage of it. For a full list of the Free Comic Book Day titles go to the web site . I've already chosen which titles I plan to get.

I'll be going to Acme Comics . They will be having balloon art and super hero face painting for children, and, from 11:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. will have some comic book guests. They will have Christian Slade, writer and artist of Korgi, published by Top Shelf, and Art Baltazar, writer and artist of Patrick The Wolf Boy, Gorilla, Gorilla and Tiny Titans. Their free comic book limit is 3 titles.

Another comic book store, this one in Lake County, where I live, will have master artist George Perez on Free Comic Book Day Saturday, May 2. Action Games and Comics in Clermont, Florida, ,will have Perez appear from 1:00 - 5:00 p. m. Unfortunately I won't have time to visit this store because of a family commitment. If you are in the Clermont area Saturday check out Action Games and Comics.

Next week I will post about the Free Comic Book Day titles I chose, along with the other titles I bought. I would be interested in the FCBD titles you picked, so leave a comment at the end of this post, or send and e-mail to

Superman Fan Podcast is my audio podcast about everything Superman. It can be found at . Expanded show notes can be found at . Send e-mail about this podcast to .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Issue #50: Catch Up Week #10!

Here it is another catch up week, but there's not a lot of comics to go through, so this won't be long.

Comic book for the week of Wednesday, April 1, 2009:

Noble Causes #40 Final Issue (Image) * * * * *

Jay Faerber ends this series after saying he has run out of stories for these characters. It's sad to see such an excellent series end, but it's better to end it on top than milk it dry and leave nobody wanting to read it. He didn't say that they would not appear again, maybe they will make guest appearances in some of Jay's other titles. like Dynamo 5 or Gemini. As for the story itself, it does wrap up a few plotlines, like what happened to Race and Liz in this 5-years later story (and what a surprise there). We learn what Gaia's plans are after prison. To complete the issue we get to see some Noble Family super hero action one last time. Not all plot threads are wrapped up. This final issue ends on a surprising cliff hanger, so stay tuned.

Comic books for the week of Wednesday, April 8, 2009:

Terry Moore's Echo #11 (Abstract Studios)
Superman: World of New Krypton #2 (New Krypton #20) (DC)

Terry Moore's Echo #11 (Abstract Studios) * * * * *

This issue opens with the aftermath of Julie's conflict with the crazy old man, a crater in the middle of the road. Dillon is starting to bear the toll of current events, and he has an unusual encounter. The tension for our heroes mounts with each new issue, and a new question is introduced that will be answered in later issues. The only criticism about this issue is that it is such a quick read. But it is so action packed I have to read it again. The question of What's gonna happen next keeps me coming back for the next issue.

Superman: World Of New Krypton #2 (of 12) (New Krypton #20) * * * * *

Superman settles in to his role in the military guild, and quickly shows he knows how to exercise discipline, very well, as well as lead. His new role brings concern to interested eyes elsewhere in the universe. Kryptonian society is becoming more familiar with each issue of this mini-series, which adds to the depth and enjoyment of the story. But all is not perfect in this new world of Kandorian society, nor in the natural world on New Krypton iteslf. World Of New Krypton might be shaping up to be the best Superman story of 2009. And hey, this issue has Kryptonian Thought Beasts. What more could you ask for?

Comic book for the week of Wednesday, April 15, 2009:

Action Comics #876 (New Krypton #21, part of the storyline World Without Superman) (DC Comics) * * * * *

Ursa shows herself as a very vicious fighters, with some interesting weapons to fight fellow Kryptonians with. Nightwing and Flamebird are in the fight of their lives. And Lois gets a surpirise visitor. If you're wondering if Superman and Action Comics can have quality stories without Superman as the main character then the answer is a resounding Yes. But this doesn't surprise me. I was reading the Superman titles during the Death Of Superman story and aftermath, and the supporting cast was more than ample to carry the Superman titles until his return. Nothing has changed in that regard.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Issue #49: Catch Up Week #9

This issue I catch up on the last three weeks of March 2009. Between covering for someone on vacation and other things I didn't get to my comic book shop (Acme Comics ) until the last week of the month. So here goes.

Comic books for the week of Wednesday, March 11, 2009:

Top 10 Season 2 #4 (of 4) (America's Best Comics / Wildstorm / DC)
Action Comics #875 (DC)
Top 10 Season Two #4 (of 4) (America's Best Comics / Wildstorm / DC) * * * *

This issue did not read like the end of a mini-series, in a good way. Not all of the plotlines were wrapped up. Various characters dealt with problems common to law enforcement, from the pressures of the job, being counselled by a police psychologist and dealing with a prisoner escape from the presinct holding cells. Even the commissioner from another dimension had his own problems to deal with. The ending left me looking forward to the next issue, but since this is the last issue of a four issue mini-series I'll have to look forward to the next mini-series.

Action Comics #875 (New Krypton #17 / World Without Superman) * * * * *

This is the first issue of the World Without Superman storyline. We learn who Nightwing and Flamebird are early in the story (no spoilers here) and their mission of searching for Kryptonian sleeper agents on Earth. Of course many people are interested in their exploits, from Allura, General Zod and Ursa, to General Lane and his reporter daughter Lois. One of the strengths of Superman continuity is the strenght of the supporting cast. During the Death Of Superman storyline of the 1990's, the supporting cast were able to carry the Superman titles. I have no doubt that the same will hold true for the current World Without Superman story.

Comic books for the week of Wednesday, March 18, 2009:

Supergirl #39 (New Krypton #18) (DC)
Invincible #60 (Image)

Supergirl #39 (New Krypton #18) (DC) * * * * *
The battle between Superwoman and Reactron concludes, with a surprising result. Supergirl finds herself caught between being unwanted unwanted on Earth and the harsh demands of her mother. Inspector Henderson gets a break in the investigation of Agent Liberty's murder. Supergirl has become a fully formed character in the New Krypton storyline, and the emotional roller coaster she has been through is really developing her character and has made her title an equal to the other Superman titles, and the New Krypton story continues to excel.

Invincible #60 (Image) * * * * *
The cover will catch your eye. It is a double gatefold cover. Both the front and back fold out to show every super hero Image publishes or has published. The price is a dollar higher, but it is an oversize issue, and it barely contains the story. To Image's credit, other publishers would have probably turned this story into a mini-series. The title, The Invincible War, says it all. Levy Angstrom's band of alternate Invincibles from other dimensions attack Earth. It takes all of the heroes of the Image world to combat them. Not all of them have speaking parts, but all of them are shown in the heat of battle at various cities around the world. Casualties mount on both sides, and not all of the main Invincible cast come out of the battle unscathed, and some not at all. The world wide damage is almost incomprehensible, and the consequences to Invincible will probably be heavy. Will the world's population turn on him? This is another question co-creator and writer Robert Kirkman has shown no qualms about exploring. This issue is not for sensitive or younger readers, but is a great story. It does not follow the cliched super hero battle, showing two costumed characters beat on each other with little or no physical damage. Characters are hurt or killed and there is a lot of blood spilt. It shows the true cost of battle. The end of the issue left me ready for the next issue, to see how Invincible picks up the pieces.

Comic books for the week of Wednesday, March 25, 2009:
Top 10 Special #1 (of 1) (America's Best Comics / Wildstorm / DC)
Fantastic Four #565 (Marvel)
Superman #686 (DC)
Umbrella Academy: Dallas #5 (of 6) (Dark Horse)
Back Issue Bin Special: Superman & Batman: Generations 3 #6 (of 12) (Elseworlds / DC)

Top 10 Special #1 (of 1) (America's Best Comics / Wildstorm / DC) * * * * *
Girl Two apparently has left police work, after facing her doubts about being able to handle the pressures of law enforcement, and become a defense attorney. There are no battles or police operations, just Girl Two going through her day preparing cases and defending her clients in cour. This is a character driven story, which makes up for the lack of action in the plot. Girl Two does not just go through the motions, but digs under the apparent facts to solve her case. We also get a peak into her personal life. She comes across as a Perry Mason in a female android body. If character development interests you as much as super hero action, this issue will not disappoint.

Fantastic Four #565 (Marvel) * * * * *
The FF finish their Christmas trip to Scotland, and they would have fared better celebrating the holidays at home. The town they visit has a dark secret, as shown in the first scene of the previous issue, and the end when Valeria disappears. The whole family works together to defeat the true threat, and Ben's fiancee has the best line of the book near the end of the issue. The end hints at some tough times for the FF that will start to be revealed next issue. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch continue what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did so well, combine super hero action and the every day routine of a family's life. I'll keep reading through their run on the title.

Superman #686 (New Krypton #19 / World Without Superman)
Superman makes a cameo in his own title, even though his face is not shown. He recruits some help in watching Metropolis and in keeping an eye on Mon-El. He gets a civilian job in his secret identity as Jonathan Kent, but you'll have to read the issue to find what it will be. The supporting cast in the Superman issues of the World Without Superman story, who will protect Metropolis in Superman's absence, have the potential to carry the title on their mighty shoulders. After you finish reading the issue, read the D C Nation page at the end of the issue. I don't usually mention this feature but this time is an exception. Dan Didio writes about comic book artist George Perez being honored with George Perez Day in Orange County, on February 28, 2009, during Orlando's MegaCon. I know that he lived in Sanford, but I'm not sure if he still lives there. But it's nice to know one of the comic book industry's greats lives in the same area of central Florida.

Umbrella Academy: Dallas #5 (of 6) (Dark Horse) * * * * *
This issue continues an excellent story, and is always the title I save to read last, because it never fails to be the best issue of the week. Seance, Kraken and Space Boy are in 1963, but on the opposite side of the world from Dallas, their intended destination. They are involved in a very unusual adventure, as usual, in an attempt to get to Dallas. Number 5 and the group of assassins prepare for their operation at the Book Depository, to carry out their planned assassination of President Kennedy. There are some surprising character developments for some of them, and next month's concluding issue promises to be another action packed story. And I know I will read issue #6 last, as usual.

Back Issue Bin Special: Superman & Batman: Generations 3 #6 (of 12) (Elseworlds / DC) * * * *
I own the original Superman & Batman: Generations mini-series, and some of Generations 2 and 3. This issue brings me closer to filling the holes in both series. Generations 3 involves a plot by Darkseid, as well another mad scheme from Luthor's brain, and the descendants of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. The main part of the story involves the relationship between Lara Kent and a Green Lantern, and its ups and downs. What attracted me to this story is the multi-generational saga of Batman and Superman. All three mini-series, part of the Elseworlds imprint, are among my favorite stories in the long line of "imaginary stories" that have been a DC tradiotions since the 1960's. John Byrne has added some excellent stories to their legacy.

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