Best Shots: Lovecraft, X-Men, Oracle and More

Field Guide: The Great Fables Crossover

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Let’s do this.

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft

Written by Mac Carter

Art by Tony Salmons

Colors and cover by Adam Byrne

From Image Comics

Review by Brendan McGuirk

Writers, they say, do not make the most compelling protagonists. This makes sense, as they primarily spend their days thinking and typing, and that is not the stuff of adventurous lore. This means that the only way one can make a writer a compelling lead is to make their writing itself the centerpiece of an adventure.

H.P. Lovecraft is among the most celebrated American authors of the 20th century. As a master of pulpish horror, his legacy is of even greater weight and standing within the comics' community, since comics themselves grew, in part, out of that same pulp industry. His nightmarish creations were among the most inspired work of its day, and still resonate today as creatures of fear and dread. The conciet of The Strange Adventrues of H.P. Lovecraft is a simple one; what if one writer's fiction became the world's reality?

Mac Carter's portrayl of Howard Lovecraft is that of a man who is empowered by his work, but enfeebled by his life. When Lovecraft becomes blocked in his writing, he loses even the comforts offered by applying his trade. The central issue to this story is one of control; Howard controls the worlds of his own creation in writing, and lacks control in the realities of his personal life. Carter effectivley conveys an image of a man who's greatest strength is his limitless imagination, but is also trapped within the cage of fantasy he has created. And while Lovecraft might be caged, the dark beasts of his imagination have begun to liberate themselves, endangering all of reality.

This comic explores the mind of a writer via the genre he revolutionized, which is an innovative experiment. The art by Tony Salmons is spot-on, versatilely showing the same strength when portraying 1920's flappers as when portraying spidery, Cthulian monsters. Adam Byrne's deeply hued colors are somber and appropraite, and his cover impresses, as well.

Lovecraft makes a great tragic hero; meek on the outside, but bursting with power when properly accessed. A mystery has begun to unravel, and the timid writer will be forced into action. Lovecraft must draw on the strength locked deep within himself to face down the demons of his own creation, or, y'know, the walls of reality will collapse and we'll all be doomed to hell and damnation.

And that's scary stuff.

Uncanny X-Men #508

Uncanny X-Men #508

Writer: Matt Fraction

Penciller: Greg Land

Inker: Jay Leisten

Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Publisher: Marvel

Review by David Pepose

What do you get when you mix together a team of mutant magicians, a battle in Japan, and the reintroduction of a certain speedster from the Great White North? In the case of this issue of Uncanny X-Men, a decidedly mixed bag. I want to like this particular issue -- and as you'll see below, it really does have a lot going for it -- but I can't call this one of Fraction and company's stronger issues.

The story of this particular issue deals with the machinations of the Sisterhood, a team of mutants led by a mysteriously resurrected Madelyne Pryor. Writer Matt Fraction treats readers to a pretty fluid fight sequence starring Domino, who manages to pull a rabbit -- or a young otaku's samurai sword -- out of her hat to beat the odds and pull off a spectacular victory. Yet while the scene is fun and kinetic -- and gives Domino a snappy internal monologue that showcases Fraction's ability to make any character interesting -- it kind of minimizes the threat level of the Sisterhood. At this point, if they can't take on one lone X-Man, why does it matter what their master plan is?

Fraction really shines, though, in his character interaction between the various X-Men. A conversation between Emma Frost and Nightcrawler is easily one of the best exchanges in the book: "You job is punching people and leaping about like a spastic," Emma tells the furry blue wonder. "And I thought you a teacher, not the human equivalent of a ten-thousand dollar handbag," Nightcrawler quips back. Okay, Fraction, quit teasing us -- put Kurt back on the main team and write him monthly! The comicsverse would be a happier place seeing Matt Fraction's take on Nightcrawler every few issues, but alas, I doubt that is to be.

But Fraction really one-ups himself by his smart, organic reintroduction of Northstar back into the fold: "This isn't a gay thing, is it, Logan?" Northstar asks. "The idea of being your mutant queer mascot appeals to me not one bit." Logan responds: "We got our asses handed to us by a twenty-year-old kid on a Ducati bike because we didn't have any speed and power on the ground... Not gonna lie to you -- having an out gay man on the team'll probably buy us some good P.R. an' we could use it. But you and your sister were amazing during the invasion, and we think -- tactically, strategically -- you'd be invaluable to the team." This is the sort of high-level tactical thought that Grant Morrison put into his iteration of the JLA -- if Fraction lets this inform the battle dynamic as well as the characterization of the team, the book can only get better from here.

You're probably wondering, what's so mixed about this? The answer is artist Greg Land. It's not to say that Land is a bad artist -- although in this industry, you either love him or you hate him -- but his photorealistic artwork just doesn't really do justice to the wild ideas and kinetic action that Fraction writes. For example, I had to reread the introduction of the Sisterhood several times before realizing that there were two daughters of Mastermind, and not simply two shots of the Red Queen. Other high-octane moments like Domino dodging the "pleasingly dragon-shaped" energy strikes of Chimera and Northstar's superspeed snowboarding just didn't have a lot of panache. With more realistic, more down-to-earth scripts like Mark Millar's zombie Ultimate Fantastic Four, Land's work hits harder, but when dealing with Matt Fraction, he just can't keep up and really sell these crazy ideas for what they're worth.

Against most other books on the shelf, Uncanny X-Men can take on just about any competition. But that said, this particular subplot with the Sisterhood just isn't as compelling as some of the others Fraction has used in the past, such as Cyclops' anxieties over X-Force, or the creation of the X-Club, which brings back a somewhat underutilized character from Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. That said, with the introductory issue out of the way, perhaps next month's book will fire on all cylinders. You can't win everyone every time, but I'll say this for Matt Fraction: even with this mismatched art, he's certainly giving this book one heck of a shot.

Green Lantern #35

Green Lantern Corps #35

Writer: Peter Tomasi

Penciller: Patrick Gleason

Inker: Rebecca Buchman

Colorist: Randy Mayor

Publisher: DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

While Geoff Johns' take on Green Lantern has been a more methodical backbone to the franchise, Peter Tomasi's Green Lantern Corps is a full-throttle, no-holds-barred ideafest that really sketches out the fullest potential of various entities of the DC Universe.

The book starts out with a bang, as a bear-like Green Lantern battles a ferocious Red Lantern in the Guardians' Sciencells, where the worst of the worst criminals in the galaxy are held. The color work in this scene, by the able Randy Mayor, works great with Gleason's pencils, acting both kinetic and slightly claustrophobic. But this is only a precursor for some worser turmoil, as the rogue Guardian known as Scar unleashes the yellow Sinestro Corps rings from deep within Oa.

Tomasi's knowledge of the characters works best in the first part of the book, where he effectively conveys Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Kilowog, and Salaak with some effective shorthand. In addition, Gleason gets really creative with the panel layout, somehow managing to make a five column page seem dynamic and detailed.

The second part of the story, meanwhile, focuses on rookies Arisia and the Daxamite Green Lantern, Sodam Yat. If you're new to the series, you may wish to catch up on the past few issues to understand this B-story -- but if you've been keeping up, you are treated to some smart ideas on Tomasi's part, including the snakelike Sinestro Corps Sentry patrolling the planet Daxam, as well as the seething rage behind Sinestro Corps lieutantant Arkillo, who wears his rotting, detached tongue around his neck.

The best part of this B-story has to be the examination of Sodam Yat's character, who last got the major spotlight way back in Green Lantern Corps #25. Whereas Kyle, Guy, Kilowog, and Salaak all had discernable personalities, Sodam, his battles against Superboy-Prime and Ranx notwithstanding, has always seemed a little bland in comparison. But in this issue, Tomasi explores both Sodam's more ruthless side, as well as his military leadership: "All of you are going to fight and save yourselves," he tells his fellow Daxamites, "Or die trying!"

In short, this book certainly sets up some cool moments in the upcoming War of Light that will certainly bear watching. If there's anything about this book that is disappointing, it is only that the first story is so overwhelmed by the second -- but I'm hoping that the wild card of Arkillo will give the unchallenged Sodam Yat a worthy foe to fight against. But with Patrick Gleason's art sustaining Peter Tomasi's unparalleled grasp on the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, this is a book that continues to rip-roar across the universe, month after month.

Punisher #4

Punisher #4

Writer: Rick Remender

Artist: Jerome Opena

Colorist: Dan Brown

Publisher: Marvel

Review by David Pepose

Forgive me, Frank Castle, for I have sinned. While I missed the first three issues of the Rick Remender series, I have to say, bringing the Punisher back into my life has never felt more rewarding.

What do I mean? The titular Punisher has wavered in and out of the mainstream Marvel U for the past decade or so, but this is the first time I can remember that the title has balanced the world of capes-and-costumes with down-and-dirty gun fights this well.

The premise of this story is Frank Castle, cornered by a gang of thugs disguising themselves as police. But don't count Frank out of the running just yet: "Charlie team hit a snag," Castle tells his pursuers. "Sit tight. I'll be right up to explain." Hang tight, readers -- the carnage has just begun.

Issues like this are the reason why Marvel has Rick Remender on exclusive contract. The pacing of this story is spot-on, and Remender gives some great one-liners that give Castle a bit more depth than some of his previous incarnations. It goes without saying, of course, that Remender has Frank dispatch his enemies with some real panache, and after he escapes, it only gets better. Combined with a subplot of Castle's pet hacker, Henry, being tracked down by the villainous Grizzly, and you've got yourself a tension-filled, action-packed issue. When you realize how easily Henry could come off as an Oracle or Microchip rip-off, Remender really gives this new character credit by his dialogue, as well as his relationship with Castle.

Frank's dialogue is terse and rushed, but it fits with the new status quo of the series: staying on the run from the forces of the "super villain teamster" known as the Hood, while trying to dismantle Norman Osborn's Dark Reign by any means necessary. "You're in pretty rough shape," Henry tells Frank. "Just push everything back in place and staple," Castle replies. "Gotta get back out there." Needless to say, by the end of the issue, there is a spectacular splash page that comes out of nowhere, but makes me happy as a clam to see what unorthodox -- one might say Marvelous -- methods Frank will use next in his quest for justice.

Opena, meanwhile, is fantastic on art duties. He's a touch of Tim Bradstreet, a little bit of Steve McNiven, a dash of Kubert, with the best of Andy Clarke. There are so many moments in this book that are just iconic, and give the Punisher a sense of grandeur and grit that really make this character a fun one to watch. His work on the Hood really works well, also, giving Frank a great adversary to square off against. Meanwhile, his scene in the Hood's club has some great touches, including a pint-sized assistant dressed up in a devil suit.

If you're a Punisher purist, and want to see Frank Castle immersed in the "real world" a la Garth Ennis, this probably isn't the book for you. But if you want much of Ennis' trademark grit while still remaining in the context of the rest of the Marvel Universe, this book is definitely for you. With some great storytelling and one heck of an artist, Marvel is proving that Dark Reign isn't just an event, but a legitimate starting point in its own rights for some rock-solid books.

Fables #83

Fables #83

From: Vertigo

Writers: Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges

Art: Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy and Lee Loughridge

Review by Mike Mullins

And so begins the Great Fables Crossover which will run through Fables (issues 83-85), Jack of Fables (issues 33-35), and The Literals (issues 1-3). With issue 83, Fables gains a co-author for the arc with Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges pen an installment that reads crisply as they tackle a number of developments on the Farm as well as Fabletown. Most importantly, they bring Jack back into the story carefully, reminding the reader of Jack’s character as presented in Fables before he spun into his own book.

The art by Mark Buckingham (pencils), Andrew Pepoy (inks), and Lee Loughridge (colors) is as engaging and appealing as anything on the stands today with its contemporary take on the faerie tales of our youth. The absence of the borders normally present in Fables is, however, missed, but I assume their absence isn’t a change in style for Fables as much as a desire for consistency with Jack of Fables and The Literals.

Unlike many crossovers, the start of this multi-book spanning story kicks off were the last storyline completed. The resolution of the struggle between the Big, Bad Wolf and the Beast didn’t answer any questions about who is the bigger badass, but it clearly showed the importance of Snow and Beauty to men they married.

Most of the issue focused on what triggered the battle between the two men who struggle to control their inner monster with some interesting theories revolving around the reach of Mr. Dark, but the issue delivered on other fronts as well. The passing of Blue has become the basis of a religion with an unlikely prophet, and in the world of Fables, there is definitely a power to belief and remembrance that could see fruition down the road for fans of Blue. I expect these pages to be a fan favorite moment of the issue.

The issue concluded in Fabletown which is under serious reconstruction as Mr. Dark uses the recently deceased to built his image of home. Of course, New York is undergoing a rash of violent crimes that seems to be providing Mr. Dark with a high number of servants to call from the grave to do his bidding than would normally be available. As bad as the Emperor was before the Homelands War, the Empire had only limited access to Earth, but Mr. Dark now resides here and is ready to unleash vengeance on whomever he can find.

Most significantly for the short term, Jack called the farm for help, resulting in Snow and Bigby’s task of investigating Jack’s warning. Most telling, Tottenkinder cannot sense the danger that Jack warns of, but isn’t quite willing to discount it as readily as Beauty. Snow, on the other hand, doesn’t trust Jack but remembers that Jack’s warnings have proven true in the past.

At nine issues, this will be the longest story arc to appear in Fables. Given that Flycatcher’s 7-issue arc felt like it dragged on a month or two too long, this crossover still has some obstacles to overcome before it becomes a success, but the first issue is a success that should convince readers to take a chance on the following two chapters.

Oracle: The Cure #2

Oracle: The Cure #2 of 3

From: DC

Writer: Kevin VanHook

Art: Don Kramer and Jay Leisten

Review by Mike Mullins

DC has provided a mini-series that is a train wreck. Barbara Gordon has a ton of fans from her days as Batgirl (from comics, more recent animated TV series, and maybe even one person who liked Alicia Silverstone in Batman & Robin), a small set of fans from her role in Suicide Squad, and fans of her latest series, Birds of Prey. For those fans that prefer Barbara as Oracle, The Cure may be their last opportunity to see her in that role and for those who prefer Barbara in cape and cowl, this mini-series appears to be designed to document her recovery from paralysis. While neither Birds of Prey nor the upcoming Batgirl series entice all of her fans, this mini-series had the opportunity to appeal to broadest possible audience. I cannot imagine any long-time fans actually enjoying Oracle: The Cure.

Issue #2 starts off bad with the down-the-shirt view of Barbara. Coming from a title that was all about characterization to a book that appears more interested in cheesecake, Oracle: The Cure is a huge letdown. The writer seems clueless about how Barbara has been depicted recently. Since when has she not been on guard for trouble? It is virtually second nature for her at this point, and the need for that extra scrutiny of her surroundings was made ever more important when the Joker showed up in Platinum Flats. Her characterization further sinks into a septic tank when VanHook has her lose control and assault a subdued opponent.

The art waxes and wanes between average and moronic. The depiction of the internet as a virtual world feels dated from the late eighties, but the writer should take the greatest blame for even calling on the artist to depict that tired concept. On a less significant note, I also wish Barbara’s hair was a bit more orange than the red used in this issue.

After two issues of a story that feels directionless, those readers that hold on to the end, fortunately, have only issue left to suffer through for the sake of following a loved character. I fully expect to see a disastrous downturn of sales on this title once the numbers are released.

Maybe Alicia Silverstone can donate her Golden Raspberry Award to Kevin VanHook for this travesty. It would certainly be justified.

Wolverine: Noir #1

Wolverine Noir #1

Writer: Stuart Moore

Artist: C. P. Smith

Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry

Colorist: Rain Beredo

Marvel Comics

Review By: Jeff Marsick

Frustrating. That’s what this issue is. Eight pages into it I was comfortably sure it was setting up to be one of the best Wolverine (or at least Logan) stories ever written. Y’see, there’s this hard-boiled private eye in the Bowery, goes by the name of Jim Logan. According to the etching on the door glass, he’s half of the Logan & Logan Detective Agency (“The Best There Is At What We Do”), with his partner being a brutish and boorish “brother”, Dog. An amicable relationship it clearly is not: “…for about the eightieth time today, I’m thinkin’ about killing my partner.” Enter Mariko Yashida, a classy and exotic dame as out of place in that part of town as clean sheets in a flophouse, hiring the Logans to look into some men who have taken an uncomfortable interest in her daily routine. Tight dialogue by veteran scribe Stuart Moore, fantastic pencils and inks by C. P. Smith, and great colors by Rain Beredo really give this book that noir feel, as if the cinematographer John Alton himself had been a consultant.

But then a speedbump that stalls the story’s momentum: a three-page flashback scene lifted from a Prohibition-era take on Origin where we meet Logan’s religion-mad pa, Rose, Dog, and the 97-pound weakling named James. It’s filler, providing neither illumination of the first eight pages nor motivation for our main character. All it does is simply ham-fist and heavy-hand the obligatory correlation between James Logan and his animal instincts (I suppose it’s just in case you’re new in town from Saturn and don’t automatically suss that out given the name “Wolverine” on the cover).

We get back to the real story for two pages and just as the tachometer’s needle starts to once again spin clockwise, we’re rudely yanked out for another unnecessary flashback to answer how this Elseworlds-ish Wolverine came to like knives. Problem is, it’s not a question that was asked, nor does it move the story forward. If anything, it provides ample confusion over the disconnect between the Lennie Small version of Dog Logan in the book’s beginning and the more refined bully that clearly existed in the past.

After that waste of good art and paper, the book actually finishes strong with a disappearance, Logan dancing the vicious with a pair of jack rollers (who I’m guessing are going to be Prohibition-era Hand ninjas), a trail of blood, and the foundation for a proper mystery. I went back and re-read it, excising the two interruptions and piecing the rest together and the result was a better book. So for three-ninety-nine, you’re not getting twenty-two pages of goodness, you’re only getting fourteen pages worth. I’m at a loss why there’s this proclivity in Marvel’s noir titles to litter them up with flashbacks that do nothing other than to either replay what we already know or tell us what don’t really need. I yearn for a writer who can weave the details into the story, feeding them to us slowly like an IV-drip, so that we discover the character as we walk along with them. You know, a storyteller. Stuart Moore certainly can do it, as he demonstrates in the first eight pages. But then he ignores the “Show, Don’t Tell” mantra and ladles up two thick servings of “Here Swallow This” which, to me, is just lazy. The result is, unfortunately, a book that disappoints.

Ignore the single issues of this series and wait for the trade collection.

Robots

Robots

Published by: Accent UK

Review By: Jeff Marsick

Anthologies are tough to grade. Sure, they’re the box of chocolates that Forrest pithied about, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a handful of submissions that are pretty pictures with no story, or a solid story decapitated by horrendous artwork, or a tiny minority like chase cards from a Topps set that are actually good reads and solid artwork. All of those are then awash in a sea of underachievement where nothing at all works and your cockatiel wouldn’t deign to have it line the bottom of its cage. Just as I’m convinced that there hasn’t been a book published that doesn’t contain at least one typo, I’m also a firm believer that an anthology is a success if at least 51% of the book is composed of winners. Hey, if it works for hedge funds, it should work here as well, right?

Following that logic, Robots by Accent UK should be on everyone’s bookshelf. Mind you, this isn’t some high-falutin’ anthology like those Flight books, nor is it even in full color like them Popgun books. It feels like a working-man’s anthology. Forty-two stories, probably around four hundred pages, all about robots. Nice robots, bad robots, evil robots, robots who contemplate the whys and wherefores of their existence. Stories that explore the horrors and sins of suckling from the teat of technology, as well as the benefits and bonuses of having tinmen and women around. Funny, droll, campy, cartoony, serious (like the way-awesome “Tiger Tiger” by Johnson and Brown)…tt’s all-you-can-eat at the Robot Sizzler.

Each story runs two to eight pages, so the painful ones don’t last too long yet the great ones don’t last long enough. I’d love to bore you for pages and pages dissecting them all, but that would do a disservice to you, the reader, who would get more from just going out and picking it up. I will tell you this, however: [b]Robots[/] is a better anthology than Image’s Popgun.

You can buy this and more from Accent UK’s website (www.AccentUKComics.com) or from Amazon. I think this is the best anthology the company has put out in a while, even better than their Zombies anthology. If you like Robots, then you should also order their next effort, Western (I think the name speaks for itself as to what the topic is going to be), which should be due out in the US any week now.

The Photographer

The Photographer: Into war-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders

Written & Illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert

Lived and Photographed by Didier Lefèvre

Published by First Second

Reviewed by Michael C Lorah

Last year, First Second brought French cartoonist Emmanuel Guibert’s Alan’s War, the biography of American World War II G.I. Alan Cope, to English-speaking audiences, and it was the best comic of 2008. Well, they’ve placed an early, but very firm, grip on the Best of 2009 lists with another Guibert true-life epic.

The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders, which was originally published in France in the three-volume award-winner Le Photographe several years ago, is every bit as amazing as Alan’s War. If anything, it’s even better. Didier Lefèvre, the award-winning photojournalist who passed away two years ago, traveled to Afghanistan in the company of MSF (Doctors Without Borders) several times during the 1980s, documenting the efforts of the organization’s doctors to treat Afghanis caught in the middle of the bloody war waged between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union.

In The Photographer, cartoonist Guibert – a longtime friend of Lefèvre – combines Lefèvre’s photographs with his own watery renderings to create a staggering graphic achievement. Writing a script from Lefèvre’s journal, mixing the cold reality of photos and the impressionistic vision of his own artwork, Guibert captures the indelible humanity experienced by his friend in Afghanistan. The book succeeds on many levels: a document of a people’s struggle to survive, a love letter to the important work being done by MSF, and as a reinvention of the graphic rules of the comic book form.

Guibert’s greatest strength is his ability to offer up the full range of humanity found in Lefèvre’s travels. It would be easy to focus on the most dramatic moments – the villagers scarred and mutilated, or worse, by the unwanted war exploding almost literally around their ears; the corrupt guides and officials seeking to bleed Lefèvre for their own profit – but Guibert recognizes the extremes found in even extreme circumstances. The warm humor of Lefèvre’s companions, the compassion of the doctors, the calm assistance of so many Afghani travelers and village chiefs, all this and more comes through naturally and clearly. For every moment that makes you wince and blink back moisture for the senseless tragedy of it (and yes, it will happen), you’ll laugh out loud at the adaptability, resourcefulness and love shown by the people who lived through this experience (and many who sadly didn’t).

Mixing photography and comics art has always been an intriguing idea, but one rarely done in a truly satisfying manner. Juxtaposing his friend’s documentary images against his own visions of the experience, Guibert has created a reading experience that is both storytelling and physical document of a time in history. The Photographer: Into war-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders is a huge, huge success, graphically, narratively, humanistically. It comes with my highest recommendation.

Classics Illustrated: The Raven and Other Poems

Classics Illustrated: The Raven and Other Poems

Written by Edgar Allan Poe

Illustrated by Gahan Wilson

Published by NBM/Papercutz

Reviewed by Michael C Lorah

The cover proclaims “full-color graphic novel adaptations,” but it’s really not anything of the sort. Legendary artist Gahan Wilson isn’t adapting Poe’s poems at all; rather, he’s providing illustrations that accompany the text, much more in the tradition of illustrated prose than comics’ sequential imagery and blending of text and art. It may be a semantic difference, but readers should know what they’re getting into: Poe’s words running alongside Wilson’s color illustrations.

In addition to the title poem, “Annabel Lee,” “Lines on Ale,” “The City in the Sea,” “The Sleeper,” “Eldorado,” “Alone,” “The Haunted Palance,” and “The Conquered Worm” get Wilson’s treatment.

Wilson’s art does Poe’s words justice, with evocative, cross-hatched, black-hued nightmare visions, and young readers looking for a lively exposure to classic literature are likely to enjoy seeing Wilson’s interpretations of Poe’s lost-love languishing. Classic Illustrated: The Raven and Other Poems is a package aimed at younger readers, but it’s a well done selection.

PELLET REVIEWS!

Green Lantern Corps #35 (DC; Review by Lan Pitts): In part 3 of "Emerald Eclipse" there is revenge, murder, backstabbing, and heroics with a reveal at the end that left me saying "Awww yeah." Truth be told, I had neglected GLC before this current arc. I think that's going to have to change. Patrick Gleason's art has grown on me and Tomasi's exploration of random Sinestro Corps members really opens up the world of the emerald space police and their adversaries. There is a huge prisonbreak as a boatload of Sinestros get their rings back and of course, there is a huge skirmish. In this issue there are also two family reunions: one being Green Lantern Sodom (who holds the power of Ion) and his father, as well as Soranik and her father...Sinestro. The panel layout wasn't really to my liking. It was overstylized and basically overdone. There were some pages that had frivilous panels and it just complicated the page. Gleason's art is still solid though, and being assisted by Randy Mayor really elevates the story. There is also a "Last Days of Animal Man" preview. I had remembered hearing something about that story, but nothing major, and it's cool to see the project being finalized. Bottom line: it seems to me that "Blackest Night" will be the coolest event of the year and I'm going to grab as much GL books as I can, just to make sure I don't miss anything.

Transformers: All Hail Megatron (IDW; Reviewed by Erich Reinstadler): This is it. The battle we've been waiting for - Megatron vs Starscream. And it isn't as one sided as you'd think. The Earth was conquered easily enough, but now what? That's what the Decepticans want to know. And since Megatron hadn't provided an answer, a division built within the ranks, leading to the fight in this issue. And the two sides are pretty evenly matched, until, well... One side gains a distinct advantage. That all I'm willing to say. Meanwhile, on Cybertron, the Autobots have put their differences aside, regrouped, and thanks to an unexpected arrival, are about to bring the fight back to Megatron. Great, fun series from Shane McCarthy, Guido Guidi and Emiliano Santalucia.

In Case You Missed It: Warlord #1 (DC; Reviewed by Erich Reinstadler): Based only on the cover, I picked up Warlord #1. Why? Two words - Mike Grell. My god, if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt with The Warlord, it's Grell. Would I be proven right? Of course! The book starts with frozen dinosaurs, walks straight into a great way to start the new series - New characters are introduced and placed in peril. Travis Morgan's history, from an SR-71 pilot in 1969 to his role as the ruler od Skartaris is covered. And we are introduced to modern-day Skartaris, where life-threatening danger is always just around the corner. For this book, Grell has given the art duty to Joe Prado, who does a terrific job at updating the look of the book while keeping Grell's characters rcognizable. Good first issue, and I'm looking forward to reading more.

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