Best Shots: Captain Britain, Prometheus, GI Joe
Best Shots: Cap Britain, GLC and more
Captain Britain and MI13 #9
Writer: Paul Cornell
Art: Leonard Kirk and Mike Collins, pencils; Jay Leisten with Cam Smith, inks
Review by Troy Brownfield
Like its spiritual cousins, The Incredible Hercules and Guardians of the Galaxy, this book represents the best of what Marvel is doing right now. Sure, they occasionally get yanked into line-spanning crossovers. However, each book on its own delivers a large amount of something that seems sorely lacking around mainstream comics, lately, and that’s fun.
Yeah, I’ve said that before. And I’ll say it again, primarily because it cannot be understated. Indeed, a lost character is shown before issue’s end in what appears to be dire peril. Nevertheless, the whole enterprise feels like an upbeat adventure, so you can probably be sure that the character in question will get a chance at rescue at some point.
One great feature about the book right now is that it may be the best place for Blade. Blade hasn’t found a solo book that clicked, well, ever, and his presence here and the obvious chemistry that Cornell scripts between the Daywalker and Spitfire offers lots of interesting opportunities. Britain and Galaxy both are like homes for wayward characters; they’re sent in and get rehabbed much faster than Steven Adler. Another of those characters would be Pete Wisdom; Cornell’s found a space to make the character his (and that’s hard, since, y’know, Ellis). On the art side, Kirk and Collins split the pencils this time, but it’s pretty consistent overall. The interdimensional sequences are realized well, and expressiveness and fluid action to spare.
The deal was sealed for this one with a great final page. Considering what Cornell’s done with Blade and Spitfire so far, it’ll be intriguing to see what he does with THAT GUY. It’s terribly unfair that a book this solid sprung out of the middle of a mammoth crossover. If you can get around that, you’ll find your way into one of the most consistently enjoyable super-team books around.
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Federico Dallocchio
From DC Comics
Review by Brendan McGuirk
Right off the bat, Sterling Gates establishes a keen understanding of how things work in the DCU. Beginning this story, the return of the real Prometheus, right where Batman so resoundingly defeated him at the finale of Grant Morrison’s JLA run, returns the character to its purist roots. And given the current landscape, it is a good time for the anti-Batman to reemerge. The Prometheus running around since Morrison and Howard Porter’s Armageddon story, we learn, is a fake, while the true threat has laid dormant in Blackgate Penitentiary, deep in the Martian Manhunter’s thrall.
I’m going to completely gloss over the fact that Batman coerced Martian Manhunter into mind wiping, or brainwashing Prometheus, and instead focus on the well-paced three chapter story from Gates and artist Federico Dallocchio. It was injustice that led to the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, but it was justice that led to the death of parents to Batman’s villainous counterpart. So it is instead justice that Prometheus crusades against. He’s backwards. When the Martian dies, and the DCU’s balance of good and evil tips away from the side of angels, the true Prometheus finally emerges, and it is immediately apparent that the heroes of the DCU may be in for a storm of trouble.
The one-shot story is conveniently broken into 3 chapters, a familiar trope in older comics, but starkly contrasts an era of decompression. This method manages to hearken back to classic sensibilities while also incorporating the strengths of today’s arc-based storytelling. The result means that this single issue does the same thing a mini-series would have; breaking Prometheus out of prison, fleshing out his origin, proving him against relatively tame competition, (in this case, the very appropriately ridiculous patsies the Blood Pack), and having him reclaim his mantle. $2.99, later, boom, you’re ready to follow this intriguing, still relatively unblemished character into his presumably badass exploits.
Starting this story off during the opening salvo of Final Crisis was a savvy move, not only because it worked story-wise, but because with the character’s antithetical counterpart off the board, he is more interesting and dangerous than ever. Hell, even the final reveal of his big return echoed the presumable return of Batman, though explaining how would spoil too much. But it does all contribute to this strange feeling that the powerful vacuum of Batman won’t remain for long, and things are going to get a lot bloodier.
Too often, DC has either strangled the hell out of their good concepts, or clumsily neglects them, but this issue really recaptured what worked about this character, and it did it at the most opportune time. Both Sterling Gates and Federico Dallocchio display real Rookie-of-the-Year potential with DC. Gates has been paying his dues on pretty high-profile Green Lantern assignments, where he showed an understanding of the characteristics that make them cool. He gets what makes Prometheus cool, showing the readers a brutal, amoral man, who’s as fanatical as Batman. Dallocchio does great work as well, telling the story almost entirely on a disorienting tilt; a literal bent to this tale of the wicked. His action carries, and his line work is strong and consistent.
Everyone brings their “A” game, and this book warrants attention.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason and Rebecca Buchman
Review by Mike Mullins
The Faces of Evil tie-in in this issue is limited to Kryb’s narration on the first page, but it is a powerful introduction to the story and villain. First, this page depicts a villain that has it in for the Green Lantern Corps all the way to the depths of her soul. Second, it highlights how incredibly strong Kyle Rayner is as a Green Lantern. Highlighting the motivation for a villain that shows she just isn’t “evil” from her own perspective and marking the comparative power of one of the focal points of this title in comparison to a typical Green Lantern makes for a reader-friendly hook that gets this issue starting off on a high point.
Kryb is a villain that would not have worked nearly as well twenty years ago. She is a monster who steals children from their parents and allows them to slowly die while encaged. As the demographic of comic book readers has gotten older, far more comic book readers can now relate to having children or at least being at a stage in life where that is on the horizon.
This issue completes the arc centered on Kryb and the birth of Amnee and Matoo’s child. The escape from Kryb’s control and the subsequent battle are handled well with this title continuing to be the source for information about the revamped Star Sapphires. As someone who viewed the concept of emotional spectrum power rings as a cheesy and laughable foundation for a long running story line, the depiction of the relationship between Star Sapphires and love is somewhat intriguing. In order for the rainbow power concept to really turn me into a believer, I think either Green Lantern or Green Lantern Corps really needs to address where these power sources came from and why they were just now discovered.
The issue ends with two powerful images. Mongul’s appearance obviously leads into the next arc in this title and it looks promising other than the fact that it will focus on the rather boring Sodam Yat. If the title stays true to form, at least Guy or Kyle will be around to pull the story out of dulls-ville.
More importantly, the image on the next to last page should evoke a greater deal of emotion. I started to count, but got to around a hundred pairs after going over the right half of the image. I hope they cover that not all of the rings are in pairs in some peripheral aspect. I could easily see some couples having a discussion on who should maintain their role while the other returns home.
Writer: Christos Gage
Art: Mario Alberti
Review by Brendan McGuirk:
I picked up this issue for one reason, and one reason alone; Ben Reilly. We all have the nerd-burdens we carry, (maybe call them nerdens, but maybe not), and one of mine is a soft spot for the bottle-blonde web-slinger. I don’t have to defend myself to you.
The one time Scarlet-Spider was the reason I got this bought this book, but as soon as it was opened it was obvious that the best reason to read the 22 pages was the superb work of artist Mario Alberti. Hot damn does that guy make pretty pictures. When even your sound effects look like works of art, you’re in good company. Carnage may have never been this finely rendered.
Anyway the story is just good enough at coming up with reasons for Spidey and the X-Men to meet up and show off their sweet 90’s duds, (Jim Lee’s Cyclops costume still rocks), and exchange some expository barbs, contextualizing the meeting in that era’s continuity, and fight some of each other’s villains. It’s all well and good, until someone loses a couple bone claws. This chapter may be a little bit by-the-books, but with a story like this, where the real purpose is to just show these characters interact while showcasing this gorgeous artwork, that isn’t such a bad thing. My only complaint was a lack of impact-webbing and stingers, but that’s really more of my own issue.
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Art: Robert Atkins
Review by Troy Brownfield
Chris Ryall of IDW has been talking about the steps toward the reboot over in Blog@Newsarama. That has to make some long-timers nervous (angry, even). Nevertheless, it’s a smart approach given the yards of continuity built over many years. It’s possible that this could be more than a simple nostalgia book. So, how does it fare?
Pretty well, actually. Chuck Dixon’s a marvelous choice for this kind of book. He’s always distinguished himself with top-flight action work, and this should be an action book. Dixon throws us all right into the thick of it, here. No protracted “gathering the troops” bit to be wrung over several issues. Core players are intact (Hawk, Duke, Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, Shipwreck, etc.), but a lot of the lesser-seen Joes (Frost Bite, Deep Six, etc.) are also here and in on the action. One change I noticed: Dial-Tone? Now female! Everything is managed like a large ensemble with a few key characters serving as the gravitational center. We also don’t immediately leap into a full-bore conflict with Cobra. Things roll forward as a mystery right now, and that’s fine.
Robert Atkins acquits himself pretty well in this issue. He does a mean Snake-Eyes, and his take on The Pit is pretty solid. It’ll be interesting to see him really dig into some of the trademark vehicles; you can spy a Sky Hawk in the background early on, but much of the larger hardware is absent thus far. Based on this one, he does have a good feel for the cast.
At the end of the day, you’re probably going to have to have been a previous fan to check this one out. It’s unusual for the new audience to be converted readily. Nevertheless, there are a lot of old-school Joe fans, and the reboot approach just might draw some new eyes. Frankly, this is a fun entry with some growth potential, and I’d like to see what IDW can do with it all in the long run.
by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen
From: Boom! Studios
Review by Erich R.
Kathryn and Stuart Immonen produced their own web comic on Immonen.ca, called Never As Bad As You Think. The good folk at Boom! Studios have taken the Immonen's wonderful, fun, quirky series, and placed it into a gorgeous hardcover book. Knowing nothing of the book until getting the assignment to review it, I sat down last night and read it. And I read it again. And again.I [censored] loved this book! I feel almost cheated that I didn't know about it before, because I am crazy about it! It's such a simple concept, yet the execution is perfect. Each page of the book is a strip of the comic. NABAYT is essentially a series of shifting vignettes, smoothly transitioning from one story to the next. That's simple enough to make anyone think "well, hell, I could do that". You can't. The genius of NABAYT is the reality of it. As strange as they may get, the conversations never sound fake. If you've ever gone people watching, you'll be very familiar with these off-the-cuff "what did he just say?" snippets. From the hypochondriac to the mariachi band to the talking cats, everything sounds authentic. Highly recommended. PELLET REVIEWS!
X-Infernus #2 of 4 (Marvel: Reviewed by Brian Andersen): Yay for bringing back the much beloved and never forgotten Magik! For this mighty feat alone I love this book. It’s terrific to see Magik struttin’ her stuff in Limbo and kicking X-Men fanny, taking names, and being all hell-benty on her mission: to get back her lost soul sword. I’m so hoping Magik manages to win her soul back so she can make a triumphant return to the X-Men as the once great, flawed, thoroughly engrossing character that she is. And if Magik comes back than can we please totally kick ‘Magik-lite’ a,ka, Pixie, to the curb? New Coke never made it and ‘New Magik’ won’t either! We want the real deal!
Titans #9 (DC; Reviewed by Brian Andersen): Jericho, Jericho, Jericho, can you please make up your damn mind and be either good or evil? Just pick one. It’s not that hard, comic book characters do it all the time. You’ve been back and forth and back and forth that at this point I’m finding it hard to care. So c’mon, bucko, pick a side and stick to it. How are we fans supposed to invest in you and your tragic childhood when we just don’t know who or what you are anymore? Are you a baddie out to plague the Titans? Are you a confused, lost soul needing love and hugs and kisses? And are you totally gay or what? I always thought you were but then you were always shown banging hot chicks, so I dunno. Maybe you’re Bi? Either way, I can’t wait for this storyline to be o-v-e-r. Also, way to go Titans in having another fraking artist on the book! Hurray? I swear this is like the 9th artist in 9 issues! Does no DC artist value the monthly deadline anymore? And if these artists can’t meet their deadline demands why do they keep getting work? Maybe editors should start digging into the very large, and creatively exciting, indie world to find some new, fresh, exciting artist hungry for mainstream work. I bet these hardworking indie creators wouldn’t miss a deadline. Food for thought, editor man, Brian Cunningham!
Manhunter #38, the final goodbye! (DC: Reviewed by Brian Andersen): Fare-thee-well sweet, Manhunter! I feel as though I barely know you but oh how I treasured our short time together. Thanks for all the wit and humor, Marc Andreyko (someone hire this way talented writer STAT!). Thanks for the boundary pushing storylines and for trying to put a face to gay superheroes, Obsidian and Ramsey (not together in ‘that’ way). Thanks for having a ball-busting, chain smoking, sass-a-frass female hero who isn’t a cliché. A lady hero, who is actually fully realized, complicated, and powerful who isn’t reduced to wearing a thong, and who wasn’t assaulted, impregnated, or forced to be a slutty-McGee. Unlike the horrible failure that is Final Crisis; future generations will look back on this book and treasure it, respect it, and wonder why the hell it never really caught on. You will be missed!
Booster Gold #16 (DC; review by Mike Mullins): Let’s start off with the bad, which is a short list for this issue. Rip, Booster, and Michelle really didn’t need a neuralizer to keep this story interesting, and in fact, it removes some of the tension and potential stories that could be developed in the future. Everything else about the issue is solid to great. I am not familiar with Enemy Ace, but I really hope to see him show up in the pages of Booster Gold in the future. The irony of who Booster Gold saves on the battlefield is intriguing enough that I hope it has future repercussions in the series. This issue succeeds with great characterizations, solid art, and a plot line that has me waiting for the next issue.
Action Comics #873 (DC Comics; review by O.J. Flow) I'll be darned if this was supposed to be the finale to "New Krypton," because I could swear more plotlines were actually created from this concluding chapter, and I'm not certain that anything was resolved. I'd actually offer that so little resolution occurred in this issue that there should be 2-3 more chapters to go. A little disappointing considering this got ten chapters to work with between three separate books. The fate we see here of New Krypton was to be expected to some degree, but it was more an act of aggression than a concession that tens of thousands of Kryptonian refugees could or couldn't successfully coexist with their non-powered hosts. On it's own, "Birth of a Nation" (the other book title that made me cringe this week, mainly because of the racial connotations of the silent film of that same name almost a century ago). Let's go through the list of the unresolved... General Lane still has Lex Luthor holed up in a lab with Doomsday on a slab; Allura is still behaving like the aunt from Hell, and her choice of allies only exacerbates the widening divide between humans and Kryptonians; Nightwing (not Dick Grayson) and Flamebird are just roaming around Earth, and it's a little hard to uncover their supposedly relevant identities when they get no dialogue or scenes to speak of. In another instance, a certain costumed character may not be the hero their outfit suggests, and it's too bad a dormant-until-recently agent had to find that out the hard way. Writer Geoff Johns cobbles this supposed finale together a bit more hastily than I'd normally expect from him, but it's supported by the able artistry Pete Woods, Renato Guedes and Wilson Magalháes. One thing did strike me is that is the creative team overlap kicked off in this issue that will continue in the Superman books that could make them indistinguishable from one another. It's reportedly going to be the case through the new year, and if DC wonders why there's a potential dropoff in readers, they need to realize that failing to maintain creative consistency on two main books not even featuring Superman is going to net that result. It was my understanding "New Krypton" was supposed to open a lot of doors, yet I'm still fumbling around for a key or two.
Nightwing #152 (DC Comics; review by O.J. Flow) Last call, folks! You got one more issue to go with this series before DC puts it in mothballs. I will say this much: without a tear being shed or a voice raised, this issue managed more emotional heft than the last few issues of Batman and the swan song of Bruce Wayne in Final Crisis #6. Alfred and Dick handling loss the way you-know-who would've wanted it. Nightwing barely even gets a chance to contemplate wherein his future lie before one of the Dark Knight's greatest foes approaches him, mourning the only way a Batman villain can. Dick Grayson comes to terms as you'd expect over losing someone so important, and similarly over the notion that his mission is likely to become a whole lot more difficult. All of this soul-searching and posturing by Dick and Ra's al Ghul is rendered exceptionally by Peter Tomasi with Don Kramer & Jay Liesten. Enjoy it while it's here!
Multi-Shots: Final Crisis #6
Final Crisis #6
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, Marco Rudy, Christian Alamy & Jesus Merino
Published by DC Comics
Review by THE Rev. O.J. Flow
I am amazed how many instances in this issue that I found myself simply not caring. I mean, I got three full decades of DC experience under my belt, and I'm passionate about the material that taps into the publisher's history/legacy, but the pacing and tempo of Final Crisis #6, not helped one iota by the six different artists here who tackled 34 pages of Grant Morrison script, is choppy and ragged when it should be illuminating, inspired and lucid. This is the "DC Crisis" equivalent of David Fincher, not yet the auteur responsible for Se7en, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, having to follow Ridley Scott and James Cameron on the Alien franchise. "How to Murder the Earth" (as wince-inducing a title as I've ever encountered) kicks off with what appears to be a lost scene from Legion of Three Worlds, never mind that we're only two-fifths of the way into that series and two or three major holidays have passed since we last saw an issue. This scene between Superman and Brainiac 5 is three pages that connect in no way to material we've yet received as readers, and the concept introducing of a "Miracle Machine" fails to get addressed again that I can tell. Who knows when and where this potential deux ex machina does. Superman's appearance after that, at issue's end, looks like it stemmed from an entirely unrelated storyline or book, and Doug Mahnke's crisp yet fluid art (the only bright spot amidst some otherwise sketchy graphics) does little to clarify things, especially with the way the last page is presented.
An issue ago, Morrison made what was supposed to be a big splashy debut as the universe's possible savior, yet Nix Uotan only warrants a panel or two toward book's end. Oh, and one issue away from Final Crisis wrapping and we only NOW find out that there's a worse threat than Darkseid? Would've been nice if they they actually fleshed out a little more story involving what I assume is the underlying Monitor involvement that feels like a plot thread I haven't even seen mentioned since the debut issue many, many months ago. One of several things I've found maddening about the Morrison/Didio joint is how a concept is seemingly introduced, we're supposed to take it as something key to Final Crisis' creative relevance, and it's shelved for way too long before getting readdressed. And even when plotlines get consistent coverage per issue, the one, for example, featuring the three generations of Flashes only earn a fleeting appearance at best. Barry Allen's importance is a mystery to me, and I'm not even in the camp understandably against his resurrection. Am I the only one who thought it was months ago that he convened with Jay Garrick and Wally West at home after successfully outrunning Black Racer?
Supergirl's battle with Black Mary Marvel was the least compelling catfight I've encountered, with a resolution that should've been utilized the moment Freddy or any other Marvel got involved. I'll take Tawky Tawny any way I can get it, but the vicious side of the gentleman tiger was covered more effectively (amazingly to some, I'm sure) by Judd Wincik in Trials of Shazam! The Super Young Team (my early theory being that they're a Fifth World manifestation of the Forever People) strike me as useless as the underage hipsters in you neighborhood hotspot whose existence relies solely on style over substance. And could someone PLEASE explain to me why they keep making Shilo Norman look Caucasian??
Which brings us to Batman. As a poorly kept secret, the notion that Bruce Wayne was not long for this world, all I ask as a reader is some compelling narrative. Not the case here as the entire sequence of the Dark Knight one-on-one against Darkseid, a seemingly emotionless afterthought as plotted by Morrison, especially disappointing in light of the many months the writer had a personal hand in what was possibly Bruce Wayne's last stand in Gotham City against some of his greatest foes ("Batman R.I.P"). For the umpteenth time, a scene opens so abruptly that it felt like I had to double-check that a page wasn't omitted by the printer, and damn if I could tell where this appearance of Batman connected to the conclusion of "Last Rites". As lengthy as the book was, I was convinced that there was an earlier scene between these two that I missed -- how else to explain that this climactic scene spanned all of four pages, two of those being a splash page? Why were we only seeing the lead antagonist AND protagonists for the first time with pages to go?? It felt as cheap and meaningless as every other death under Didio's stewardship that he seems to think is what keeps readers reading DC books. Note to management: sensible stories are what bring readers in, not unintelligible spectacle like Final Crisis. I can't imagine for the life of me how this is all going to come together in a satisfying conclusion, whenever that happens. If this review reads like I was too fixated with page count, it's because it ended up being the most interesting thing I got from the $3.99 I plunked down. Value was as tough to come by as a well laid out book.
Double-Shot: Final Crisis #6
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: A slew of artists that it’s amazing so many on are one effing book!
Reviewed by: Brian Andersen
Wow. What else can there be said about Final Crisis other then ‘wow?’ Not because of the pointless, quick, and meaningless death of Batman, but ‘wow’ because of the sheer crappiness of the entire series. ‘Wow’ because from issue 1 ‘til issue 6 I don’t think I ever really knew what the heck was going on: I did get the overall jist of the story, but I didn’t (and don’t) get (or feel) the comic book’s gravitas…I just can’t seem to grasp the importance of the series to the rest of the DCU. ‘Wow’ because the whole sha-bang is a mess - and not soley because this issue had six (SIX! Why is this acceptable?) artists.
‘Wow’ because a whole bunch of new, internationally diverse wannabe heroes - who haven’t been seen since issue 1 and 2 - are back in the forefront worrying about their relationships and pondering what their powers can and can’t do when suddenly they’re made JLA members and they’re standing up to fight and I think “who the hell is this tattoo dude again and why do I care?” And therein lies the overall answer for me; ‘wow’ because the biggest flaw with this overwrought series is that I just don’t care. Not one bit.
Batman’s death? Eh. Next! It’s not like his death is going to last. It’s not like he won’t be back, restored to his former glory in a couple years (or months!). When the first Supergirl died in the original Crisis, I cared. A lot. Heck, when any Z-List hero in the first Crisis died I felt it. But now? With this series? I feel nothing. Nothing but: “poor DC.” I feel bad for them, I really do. This ‘tent pole’ comic book ‘event’ fell flat on it face. And it’s a sad, sad thing to see…or read. But ‘wow’ what a clusterf**k.
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