Thursday, June 30, 2016

Big Week for Comics

Along with my comics, I picked up a few trade collections and Paul Dini's Dark Night, which I forgot to get last week. As I've managed to get my complete batch of new comics read tonight, I hope to get to that soon.

As for the comics, they're a mixed bag, but mostly good.

Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis 5
The penultimate issue. It's been a while, so I kind of forgot where things had left off, but a quick summary up front and reading a few pages got me back on track. We're close to finding out what caused the city's heroes to go crazy while our good guys are in quite a mess, hoping to get help from the city's villains to defeat the crazy heroes. Only Gail Simone could've cooked this up. And J. Calafiore's art is just stunning.

Mockingbird 4
This has been much fun, but I think there's just one more chapter to the story. At any rate, Bobbi teams up with her ex Clint, after rescuing him, and it all has to do with whatever toxin is killing her. Despite the dire situation she's in, the tone of the book is fairly light. Chelsea Cain gives us an entertaining Bobbi Morse. The art by Niemczyk and Parsons is lovely, too.

Lady Mechanika: The Lost Boys of West Abbey 2 (of 2)
M.M. Chen's rather creepy story concludes without much by way of surprises -- golems and Jewish magic and metal bodies to achieve immortality are hardly new ideas -- but still manages to entertain. I hope we see more of Insp. Singh. He matched up nicely with Mechanika. The art by Benitez and Montiel is intricate and gorgeous.

Star-Lord 8
After last issue's surprisingly entertaining bickering of Peter and Kitty while captives of the Collector, this issue's conclusion of the story is rather flat. Kitty relates how she and Peter broke up, then Rocket and Groot show up for a rescue, which feels like it came out of nowhere despite Peter (or was it Kitty?) having sent them a message last issue that they were too busy playing a game to notice. The whole story felt inconsequential and ultimately uninteresting.

Captain Marvel 6
Carol spends some time with Rhodey, then has to face Alpha Flight's Board of Governors who seem annoyed with her not having handled the recent threat fast enough. Which gets Carol thinking about the Inhuman Ulysses who can predict crime before it happens which of course is the focus of Civil War II. It's a valid theme to explore, but having just finished watching the last season of "Person of Interest" which dealt with opposing AIs trying to do just that, this feel rather insubstantial. I'm not reading Civil War II, only the few comics I usually read, so I'm getting this piecemeal. I also can't wait for it to be over and we can see how it all shakes out.

The Spirit 12
The long story comes to a satisfying conclusion, though the evil Mikado Vaas gets away. These twelve issues seemed to touch on everything that makes The Spirit great.

Steve Rogers: Captain America 2
Pretty much Red Skull telling us what's going on. By now, everyone interested in comics, especially Marvel comics, knows the controversy of the first issue ending with Steve Rogers saying "Hail Hydra" and meaning it. That pretty much sent social media denizens into total meltdown mode. I'm a fairly new Cap reader, so I don't have the long history with the character. I've not read many Superman and Batman storylines that didn't suit my view of those characters and I've avoided the recent Superman movies because that's not the Superman I know and love. But I don't begrudge anyone trying something new with beloved characters even if I have no interest in what they're doing. I am more willing to go along with experimentation involving characters I'm not so invested in, like Steve Rogers. I'm also intrigued by where Spencer is taking this story and am waiting for the story to finish before passing judgment on it. It's an intriguing story.

People are upset this time because Spencer and Marvel lied. They denied Steve was brainwashed, and now it's revealed he was. People are upset that the whole thing was a publicity stunt, and yeah, it's been clumsily handled, but my feeling is that it's comics and that's how they operate and nothing is forever. Superman didn't stay dead. Steve Rogers didn't stay dead. He didn't even stay old and weak. So I never really thought he was Hydra. Which is why it didn't bother me that this was done to a character created by two Jews (and I'm Jewish). I did take Spencer at his word that this wasn't going to be brainwashing or a clone. I wanted to see what else it could be. And here's something I realized upon reading the issue: Spencer didn't really lie. It's not brainwashing in the usual sense. Steve wasn't tortured, he wasn't subjected to mind control techniques. No. He simply had his memories replaced by Kobik, the Cosmic Cube who thinks, thanks to trusting Red Skull, that Hydra is good and making everyone Hydra will make them better people. So I'm letting Marvel and Spencer off the hook, even though I never put them on the hook. And I want to know how this is going to be resolved. It's the story's conclusion that will make or break this story, not the first chapter. There's some good stuff in this second installment, about hubris and manipulation on both sides. Spencer, in my opinion, is writing a good story.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Two Reviews

The final two reviews for the past week.

Harley Quinn 29
Harley and Tony embark on a scheme to earn some money, which Tony is sure is legit, but well, is anything ever really legit in this book? But Harley does gain a new toy: A car that converts into a super robot. The usual lunacy with humor suited for a 12-year-old. But somehow, also fun.

Bitch Planet 8
Seems like forever since the previous issue, making me grateful for the summary on the inside front cover. At any rate, Meiko's father wants to see his daughter now that he's at the prison to oversee construction of the new stadium, but since she's dead (a fact no one seems eager to tell him), he gets a virtual visit with her or rather, a construct of her and let's just say he isn't really fooled. So, he has something planned. Meanwhile, security guard Whitney is now in a cell with Kam and let's just agree that they'll never be besties. And with all that going on, we get to meet the first prisoners, the trans folks. Things are getting even more interesting, if possible. A hard hitting social satire keeps hitting all the right notes.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

More Rebirthing

DC's Rebirth continues and continues to entertain me. Wow, I'm excited to even type that. I picked up only 2 of the Rebirth titles this week, but both were good.

Flash 1
I'm really enjoying Carmine Di Giandomenico's art. It has a nice, fluid feel that well suits a book about speedsters. Barry is trying to acclimate to the new reality, now that Wally has returned and told him about the missing decade. But life goes on, with new cases for a police forensics specialist to handle and spending time with his friend Iris and her nephew Wally -- the other Wally. Joshua Williamson handles explanatory info fairly unobtrusively in Barry's narration, filling in some gaps for those of us returning to Flash after not having read the New 52 Flash or for those readers new to the character. This is a nice start for the ongoing Flash title.

Wonder Woman 1
This wowed me. Rucka jumps into things with Diana seeking out someone for, she hopes, some answers to her newfound confusion, while Etta Candy is busy overseeing an op being run by Steve Trevor in the same general rainforest area of Bwunda where Diana is prowling. Etta isn't sure these two things aren't connected when Diana is spotted flying into the forest, though Steve insists he hasn't had contact with Diana in a long time. Hints and something, but Rucka is going for the slow burn here. And that last page, when Diana finally reaches the person she seeks has me eager for more. But with the current story scheduled to alternate with a year one story, the wait will be a bit longer than I'd like. But what really made this book stand out for me is the art. Liam Sharp's Diana is stunning and strong and the page layouts have a fresh feel for a DC book, putting emphasis on the splendor of the rainforest while moving deftly through the rest of the story. I think I'm going to truly love this version of Wonder Woman.

In other comics I read...

Ms. Marvel 8
Kamala is recruited by Captain Marvel to help with her plan to stop crime/criminals before the crime is committed, thanks to an Inhuman who can predict such things one hundred per cent. Kamala gains a team of sidekicks -- who show promise as supporting cast -- but the mission might not be as clear cut as it seems. In going small with Ms. Marvel's role during Civil War II -- a wise choice -- author Wilson has room to explore the nuances of such actions and their implications, morally and ethically and even legally. This is not a new theme -- science fiction and other genres have dealt with it over the years -- but by showcasing the dilemma through the eyes and heart of a teen comic book hero, it brings the story close to the reader. We can feel Kamala's eagerness to help her mentor, the great Captain Marvel, and we feel the doubts that creep in when she tries to follow the plan. An added dimension of a framing story that features Kamala's grandparents makes this a personal, intimate story for Kamala, adding depth to an already excellent comic book.

Adventures of Supergirl 4
From what seemed a fairly superficial story at the start of this comic based on the TV show, the story has become involved and complicated. Sterling Gates does a great job with Kara, as usual, and the art this time by Carmen Carnero does a nice job evoking the actors on the show, especially with how Alex is drawn. Kara has felt she's being watched, and finding out the truth just adds another layer of mystery. I'm enjoying this more than I expected I would since they can't deviate too far from the show. I am still looking forward to the Rebirth version of Supergirl, too. It's great having Kara be so big in the DCU again.

And a holdover from last week...

Lumberjanes Gotham Academy 1
This mini-series looks to be a load of fun. I'm new to Lumberjanes, but they fit in nicely with the Gotham Academy gang. There's trouble afoot at the camp and it will take both teams to solve it. Fun fun fun.

There are two comics from this week I haven't read yet, since I got my comics late this week. Hopefully, I'll get them read and reviewed before Wednesday comes around again.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Not So Short Stack

Wowzers! A whole bunch of comics this week, with more than one or two DCs among them! And I've read them all! Here's what I thought of them.

Astro City 36
Concluding chapter to the latest tale in which the truth comes out as to how the original Jack-in-the-Box died. But more importantly, it's the story of the damage left behind that can affect generations, for good or for bad. Pretty nifty story.

Descender 12
Mostly a flashback/origin story of Tim-22, while in the present, Tim-22 tries to destroy Tim-21 because there can be only one of them! Kind of an interlude from the story. Fine as far as it goes, but not much plot advancement.

Superman 1
I really need to read the Lois and Clark stories, but I was able to mostly follow this. Lois and Clark's son Jon is not in control of his powers yet, and their poor kitty suffers for it. Of course, a hawk or other large bird of prey had its claws in poor kitty first, but still.... Some other stuff happened, too. At any rate, I'm intrigued.

Green Arrow 1
This Ollie is rather naive when it comes to his business, and he also seems convinced that throwing money at problems is the best way to help people in need. Sure, he's helping them, but the problems remain. And when he starts asking questions about his business holdings, he puts himself into unexpected danger. My only issue with this is the character of Emi. I assume she's a New 52 character. I'd hate to think she was created for this issue.

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death 6
A change in art! Which was jarring and it wasn't as pretty, damn it, although good enough. A decent ending to the story, with a special appearance of Swamp Thing. The whole mixing human DNA with plant DNA is a bit much, but I enjoyed seeing the researcher side of Ivy.

Black Widow 4
The intrigue mounts! Nat, stabbed last issue, is patched up by an old friend and learns that someone has started a new Red Room, and the girl who'd attacked her last issue is the Red Room's first trainee. As it turns out, the woman behind the scheme has a personal vendetta against Nat. Good stuff.

Lazarus 22
What I, and apparently many others, thought were flashbacks to Forever's training, weren't. Some folks figured it out, but I didn't, and I'm always impressed when I can be fooled so completely. As per the letter column, Greg Rucka assured us that he does play fair and there were no date stamps to indicate flashbacks, so I have myself only to blame for being so bamboozled. Still, the idea of Carlyle Lazarus clones is very cool and adds even more depth to the character of Forever and the universe Rucka has designed. Great, gritty science fiction in comic book form. I love it!

Titans Rebirth 1
Everything I could and did hope for. Everything. Dick, Roy, Donna, Garth, Wally, and even Lilith (I'm really glad she's been included!) together again. The story is focused mostly on Wally, with an assist from the Speed Force, getting the others to remember him. How this all shakes out remains to be seen in the upcoming Titans title, but I'm reassured/relieved to see everyone pretty much in character, their pre-52 personalities intact. The details of their lives may be different now, but they're the former Teen Titans/Titans I know and love. Dan Abnett did a great job writing this and the art by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund is lovely to look at. I am one very happy camper.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bunch of Comics

The usual mixed bag from last week, minus the one I haven't gotten to yet.

Shutter 22
The sh*t hit the fan. Again. I really have no idea what's going on in this book, but I can't turn away. It's about the evil Prospero society and how Kate's family is trying to take them down. Or some such.

Adventures of Supergirl 3
Based on the TV show. Kara is locked in a dream being controlled by... someone. A nice, entertaining chapter in a longer story.

Black Canary 12
Brenden Fletcher's story (with art by Annie Wu and Sandy Jarrell) comes to a satisfying close in a rather timey wimey way. The whole 12-issue arc was a metaphysical romp now that we have all the pieces, and while this isn't really the Dinah Lance I've known and loved, at her essence, she is the same, a gritty survivor with well-honed skills, and this journey of enlightenment should leave her in a good place to start again in Rebirth.

Red Hood Arsenal 13
And this comes, mercifully, to an end. I've enjoyed seeing Roy and Jason as friends, but this hasn't really been the Roy I've known and loved since I was a kid. Sure, he was cocky, but the Roy I knew was always more grounded. So after Roy is saved and Jason takes out the baddies while the internet watches, comes the moment that splits them up, when Jason tells Roy "You have too much faith in people. I don't have any. I'm sorry. I'm never going to be the hero you want me to be. I have every confidence in you--that you'll stay the hero I know you are." Which is probably the best bit of dialogue Lobdell wrote over the 13 issues of this book. Red Hood and the Outlaws was infinitely better than this mess has been. I'm so looking forward to Roy being back where he belongs, with the Titans. With Dick and Donna and Garth. And Wally.

Thunderbolts 2
Kobik might be a cosmic cube in the form of a little girl, but it/she has a lot to learn, especially about how lifeforms live and die, and it's up to Bucky to teach it/her. Not much really happens in this issue, but things promise to move up a notch next issue when the Inhumans show up.

Flash Rebirth 1
Wally's return, seen from Barry's pov this time, which is very cool, actually. Joshua Williamson hits all the right emotions with this, and Carmine Di Giandomenico's art is lovely, really capturing the essence of speed/motion. Barry's got his father in this iteration -- Yay! -- and Barry and Batman compare notes, as per Wally's suggestion. There's a bit more about the button Batman found, but not much, so I figure the mystery will be slow unraveling, but that's okay. I like slow burns when done well. At any rate, I'm pleased with this.

Wonder Woman Rebirth 1
Rucka approached this by focusing on the duality of Wonder Woman's origin story: born of clay or born of a coupling of Hippolyta and Zeus. Using her magic lasso on herself, Diana learns she's been deceived, and thus, embarks on a quest to find the truth. The art by Matthew Clark and Sean Parsons is stunning, and Liam Sharp, who illustrated the final pages did a great job, too. And I love Diana's new costume.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Rebirth

Now that a few years have lessened the emotional wallop brought on by Flashpoint and the New 52, most of which I haven't read, I was heartened to hear about Rebirth. The admission from DC that they got away from the things that made DC great -- hope, love, legacy -- was encouraging. So I'm cautiously optimistic and dipping my reading toes into the ocean that is the Rebirth DCU.

We start, of course, with DC Universe Rebirth 1. It's been a long time that a DC comic has made me this happy. Through narration by the long-missing, original Wally West, we learn that the New 52 universe didn't just happen, but was a nefarious plot against Earth and the multiverse. As Wally is pulled to and from across Earth in an attempt to make a connection that will free him from the Speed Force, we see how off the DCU has become. Ten years taken from everyone! Yeah, that's the part of the DCU that most irritated me, especially with the Bat books. Nothing made sense. How could Bats have trained and worked with so many partners in 5 years?!

The scene with Wally and Barry had me in tears. Tears of joy! In fact, this comic had more emotion in it than all of the New 52 books I have been reading combined. Well, Harley Quinn is written mostly for laughs, but there are some emotional bits.

The mix of legacy characters, of old versions and new, was so welcome. Two characters who would be Atom. The two who would be Blue Beetle. It's amazing how much was packed into this extra long story without any of it feeling rushed, gratuitous, or forced. In addition, the art is gorgeous. The facial expressions so, well, expressive, like real faces.

As for the reveal at the end as to who might be behind the lost time and missing characters, well, I never read The Watchmen, though I'm familiar with the characters. I don't have any emotional attachment to them, so if one of them is the villain in this, I have no problems with it. Someone must be held accountable and I just don't see Geoff Johns writing Dan DiDio into that role. (heh)

All I know is that I saw beloved characters and beloved versions of characters in this comic. I'm looking forward, cautiously, to see where this all goes. And I'm happy to be adding DC titles back on my Pull List.

Superman: Rebirth 1
I haven't been reading any Superman titles, though I do hope to be able to get the Lois and Clark trades (they'd better be doing those). At any rate, with little familiarity of what's been going on in the Superman titles, I still found this emotionally satisfying and intriguing. The panels with the Supes I know and love with Lana in the crypt where the new version Superman is buried were poignant. Tomasi and Gleason did a nice job on the story and Mahnke and Mendoza did a good job with the art. I'm curious as to where Supes will go next.

Green Arrow: Rebirth 1
This is another character I haven't read in New 52, but I guess Ollie and Dinah were never an item? Or aren't? Or something. At any rate, I do read Black Canary, and know that she's divorced from someone named Kurt Lance. If the new DCU is going to be a combination of old and new, I'm going to be confused for a while, but as long as the characters regain much of their personalities as they were before Flashpoint and stay true to themselves, I'll deal with minor confusion. In this story, the new versions of Ollie and Dinah are drawn to each other as they investigate the disappearance of homeless people. I've always loved Ollie and Dinah as a couple, so I'm being hopeful we'll be getting that relationship back.