Best Shots: BATMAN & ROBIN, DR VOODOO, Much More

Best Shots: BATMAN & ROBIN, DR VOODOO

Best Shots  10-12-09

By The Best Shots Team, courtesy of ShotgunReviews.com

Your Host: Troy Brownfield

Greetings, readers!  First,  a look at Best Shots Extras from this past week, as well as some reviews from Blog@.

Planetary #27 (Wildstorm; review by Troy)

X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas #1 (Marvel; review by David Pepose)

Daredevil #501 (Marvel; review by David)

3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man (Dark Horse; review by J. Caleb Mozzocco)

It Came from the NYPL: Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walt Simonson Vol. 2 (Marvel; review by Michael C. Lorah)

Rotten #4 (Moonstone; review by Henry Chamberlain)

And now, the rest!  

 

Batman and Robin #5

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Philip Tan and Jonathan Glapion

Coloring by Alex Sinclair

Lettering by Patrick Brousseau

Published by DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

When it comes to entertainment, there's a little something about Occam's Razor that people don't always realize: sometimes the simplest solution isn't the most satisfying.

That's pretty much how I ended up feeling about Batman and Robin #5, which solves the mystery of the Red Hood so fast that it makes the rest of issue feel like an anticlimax. While Morrison's penchant for fun action and interesting villainry does come out in the last third of the book, the perceived flaws in this book to make this issue, at least in my mind, the first disappointing chapter of an otherwise stellar series.

Much of this has to do with Morrison's handling of the mystery of the Red Hood. I don't mind that the answer was offered and confirmed in the first four pages, but to me, I feel that Morrison has abandoned all past characterization -- indeed, all the potential for this mystery -- to inject his own personal take on it, sometimes even to the point of self-indulgence. Red Hoods and Batmen have always had a history, and considering this particular villain has played a big part in Bruce Wayne's life fairly recently, skimming past continuity felt like a misstep -- there's a lot that can be said about this character beyond "Batman is dead... I'm taking his mission to the next level."

My other issue with this book is some of the characterization and setup regarding the title characters. I didn't mind last issue casting a spotlight on the Red Hood -- but at this point, devoting even more time for setup, such as opening the issue with Scarlet's backstory, feels wasteful. For the second book in a row, it felt like Batman and Robin were playing second-fiddle in their own book, even with a fairly interesting subplot bubbling regarding the future of Wayne Enterprises. That said, the book suddenly makes a 180-degree turn for the last third, as the Dynamic Duo take on their murderous counterparts, and the Red Hood and Scarlet learn about the dangers of escalation from another of Morrison's dementedly awesome creations.

How about the art? Philip Tan and Jonathan Glapion are a bit hit-and-miss this issue. When it comes to motion, such as Scarlet throwing shurikens or Batman and Robin deflecting them with their gauntlets, Tan's work looks stellar. Other times, however, I feel like Glapion's inks should have covered him better, such as a panel of Damian smilling with an eerily fat lip, or him grimacing at a television. In terms of composition, there are panels that look stellar -- such as Batman taking a shot to the chest -- whereas almost all of the Penguin's actions needed Morrison's captioning for me to realize what just happened.

It's too bad, as I've really dug all the previous issues of this series -- including the first part of this arc. But by using elements from the era just before Batman Reborn, and then not acknowledging it, only derails the book for me. What happened to the Red Hood after Dick Grayson took the cape and cowl? How does he feel about this different Dynamic Duo? There's a scene in the book where Dick tells the Hood to "stop speaking in slogans." Unfortunately, I feel like Morrison prematurely ended the mystery behind the Red Hood in order to do just that. While I'm hopeful that Morrison's newest villain will liven things up for both Dynamic Duos, this issue's execution left me cold. Indeed, Occam's Razor would state the simplest method may be the easiest to write -- it also cuts Batman and Robin #5 off at the knees.

 

Ultimate Spider-Man #3

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by David LaFuente

Coloring by Justin Ponsor

Lettering by VC's Cory Petit

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

What you see isn't always what you get, at least when Mysterio comes into town. But it's also an apt metaphor for Ultimate Spider-Man #3 -- it may start off a bit slow with the set-up, but don't be fooled: once the superheroics light up, this stylishly-illustrated book just lets loose, firing on all creative cylinders.

One of the toughest hurdles for a lot of writers has to be weaving subplots and exposition, and in that regard, Ultimate Spider-Man does stumble a bit for the first third of the book. In Brian Michael Bendis' defense, he is not only restrained with his word balloons -- which have, in the past, multiplied at an almost threatening rate -- but he also does establish some real stakes, whether it's Mary Jane struggling to protect Spider-Man's secret identity, or the Human Torch unloading to Aunt May. To be absolutely clear: I know it's necessary set-up, and I'm sure it'll pay off soon -- but it just felt a little slow.

But things really pick up once Mysterio comes into town, as Bendis and LaFuente inject some much-needed Spidey-heroics at just the perfect time. (I also liked Bendis poking fun when giant spiders come crawling into town, as a bystander shouts, "Why?? Why is it always New York??!!" Heh, I couldn't tell you.) Bendis' voice for Mysterio is really charismatic -- he doesn't have a mad-on for anyone, he just wants his cut, and that's actually fairly refreshing.

A lot of this book's success, as I have said for the past two issues, has to be attributed to David LaFuente's art. It's funny, because even though this book isn't quite as clean as the past two, he still runs circles around a lot of his competition in terms of giving this book energy and emotion. All of his character designs -- whether it's MJ, Jessica Jones, or the manager of the fast food restaurant where Peter works -- just have character. And to top it all off, he's versatile -- an image of Spidey swinging away from Mysterio just looks awesome, and an image of Spidey with the NYPD... well, it's probably the highlight of the book.

If I had two quibbles with the art, however, it would be these: in certain sequences, such as Johnny and Aunt May, LaFuente's expressions don't always fit the text, and I'll be honest in saying I wish Justin Ponsor gave a little more "pop" to his colors, as he did in the first issue. His colors really add so much to LaFuente's art, and it's just a shame not to see it hit its fullest potential here.

Now I've said it once, and I'll say it again -- buy this book. I wouldn't consider myself a hard-core devotee to the Brian Michael Bendis style of comics, but just like Coca-Cola, sometimes you know a classic when you see it. To be sure, this book has its flaws, but when you look at the art of David LaFuente -- or you see the last page of the issue, where Bendis is already starting to show us some payoffs -- it's still a great read. Even if it starts slow -- heck, even if it's not as strong as the past two issues -- you don't get anymore "ultimate" than Ultimate Spider-Man.

 

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #2

Written by Gregg Hurwitz

Art by Jerome Opena

Colors by Paul Mounts

Cover by Leinil Yu with Jason Keith

Letters by VC's Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by Lan Pitts

"As Moon Knight, Spector prowls the night, meting out brutal justice to those who would prey on the innocent." Really? If that was the case, how come in the last issue, it was mainly in broad daylight and in this issue, again, it's mostly taken place during day time hours?

With that out of the way, I do want to express how much this series is off to a great start. Coming off the conclusion of the last issue, Sentry confronts Moon Knight and basically tells him can empathize what it is like to have inner demons and dealing with borderline insanity. The dialouge is well-paced and great introduction to the issue with Sentry flying all around, averting numerous disasters, all the while explaining to Moon Knight that if he goes back to his psychotic ways, he'll put him down.

Later, Norman Osborn is disappointed in the Hood and wants Moon Knight by any means. So, naturally, Hood brings in some additional help by means of the Profile. At first, I have to admit, the way the coloring works I thought it was the Purple Man. I always liked reading what the Profile was thinking, even if it was only for comedic value. Hiring the Profile, we also see that Osborn and the Hood will do whatever it takes to bring Moon Knight down, however, there is doubt they actually can. He's composed and seemingly at peace with the role of playing the hero again...though of course there's the end of the issue where, I'm pretty sure, the next issue will be insane and Spector's first real test on holding his madness at bay.

Hurwitz also does a fantastic job at reintroducing Moon Knight's supporting cast and does it in a way that makes you feel he's been doing it for ages, though for some of you new fans, it may seem a little confusing, but a quick browse through MK's history would remedy that. He handles Marlene, Frenchie, and Crawley with ease. Each of them have their own level of tension with Marc (or Jake) and it's wonderful character development to watch unfold. Hurwitz's script is paired well with Jerome Opena's art, that once again shines beautifully. This dynamite pair bring their own vision of action and character to the book and is easily one of the titles to watch out for. I know it may seem strange to some to say that with only two issues in, but rest assured, if you're not picking this up or having this in your pull box, you might want to rethink that.

 

Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #1

Written by Rick Remender

Art by Jefte Palo

Colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Letters by Dave Lanphear

Cover by Marko Djurdjevic

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by Lan Pitts

At first, when Brother Voodoo was announced as the new Sorcerer Supreme, I was taken aback a little. I was really pulling for Wiccan to assume the mantle, or hey, even Dr. Doom (just because he is Marvel's greatest super villain). Though, flipping through the pages at my local comic store, purchasing it and actually reading it when I got home...yeah, Marvel chose wisely. I wasn't too familiar with the character, so my impression was open-minded when it came to how Rick Remender worked the Jericho Drumm character and I have to say, he's a bona fide bad ass.

This issue picks up after Jericho Drumm's cameo in New Avengers #53 earlier this year, where the legendary Eye of Agamotto chose him for the role of new Sorcerer Supreme. I love how Remender got down to some serious supernatural business from the get-go with the Doc confining old school Dr. Strange arch-nemesis, Dormammu, and we can see the different types of magicks that Voodoo relies on in comparison to Strange's. It's truly eeriely colored and drawn. One can really sense the feel of the type of power he now possesses. Of course you have Strange in an Obi-Wan-like role, but you can almost hear the doubt in his voice over Agamotto's choosing. Strange understands though that the Eye chose Jericho for a reason and he has to live with that.

Of course, Strange isn't the only one questioning the Eye's choice in new Sorcerer Supreme. Enter: Dr. Doom. The two have a mystical throwdown of serious proportions with Doom dominating until the very end. When he thinks the Eye is now his for the taking, Doom gets a rude awakening by showing him something that makes him do a hasty retreat. I love Remender's vernacular for Voodoo and his use of Vadou terminology. It provides a sense of faithful representation of the character and his world.

Jefte Palo's art is something else, too. I love Dr. Voodoo's new costume and how he interpret the outlandish scenarios and creatures. It is almost as if he was meant for a book like this. Doctor Voodoo works great as a premiere issue for various reasons, but there are plenty of unanswered questions and I'll be sure to be around to find out.

 

Amazing Spider-Man #608


Written by Marc Guggenheim


Art by Marcos Chechetto and Luke Ross


Published by Marvel Comics

Review by George Marston

 I am relatively new to the world of post-“Brand New Day” Spider-Man, having only jumped back into the book at issue #600 after a period of disinterest that began in the mid-90’s, with a brief interlude to read a few trades of J. Michael Straczynski’s take on the character.  My disinterest stemmed from Marvel’s seeming willingness to disrupt the things that make Spider-Man work in order to make us “forget everything we thought we knew” about the character.  Enough has been said about those stories, however, so I will merely say that if “Brand New Day” was the price that had to be paid for the stories we have now, it was all worth it.  ASM #608 continues the trend of the title to deliver solid stories with enough hook to grab even a new reader, while still bringing in enough of Spidey’s past to keep the old guys on board.

I will admit that this issue was not my favorite so far, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.  I missed the annual that started the tale of Raptor, so I lack some of the background that is important to this issue, but I felt that the recap page, editor’s notes, and storytelling present here gave me plenty of info so as to not feel lost.  I love the addition of the footnotes, as well as the letter column in the back of each issue.  It takes me back to my childhood, when I couldn’t get enough Spider-Man, and I still saw the value in growing up to be Peter Parker (now that I have, I see where the angst came from).  More than anything, I would like to thank ASM #608 for introducing me to my new favorite villain, Raptor.  Raptor is a supervillain who has all the power of the dinosaurs right inside of him.  He doesn’t really get to show much of it off in this issue, electing only to grow some really gnarly teeth and toss Peter Parker around a little bit, but the potential is pretty great because dinosaurs are truly some of the most badass creatures ever to have walked the Earth.  Raptor’s secret identity, incidentally, is a hobo who looks like he used to be a roadie for Motely Crue during the time when they consumed 60% of the world’s heroin.  All of this together could combine to allow Raptor to usurp The Unicorn’s title of God’s Most Stunning Accident, if he only gets on the right track over the next few issues. 

This issue basically consists of him interrupting Peter’s unsuccessful attempt to get some money for already-outdated Spider-Man photos at the DB! by busting in, accosting him physically, and accusing him publicly of killing his family in a housefire, an act for which he believes Peter’s clone Ben Reilly to be responsible.  Of course, not knowing that Ben was a clone, Raptor thinks that Peter IS Ben, now living under an assumed name.  He carries with him a copy of a newspaper article about the arson that killed his family, which includes a police sketch of the suspect, which, of course, bears a more-than-coincidental resemblance to Peter.  After being escorted out of the building by security, Raptor decides to do to Peter what has been done to him, by targeting his family and friends.  This is not a trope that is new to Spider-Man, though I do like the twist that Raptor is angry with Peter, and not his alter-ego.  It’s emblematic of the combination of fresh stories told with old sensibilities that permeates the current run of this book. 

Marc Guggenheim’s writing has come a long way from his misguided take on The Flash a few years ago, and while the storytelling is still choppy at times, he manages to bring in a clear enough voice that I didn’t feel lost in jumping in to the story, while still injecting Peter’s trademark sense of humor.  Art duties on this issue are split between Marco Chechetto and Luke Ross, with Chechetto handling the modern day segments, and Ross filling in the flashbacks to Raptor’s origin.  The division is not terribly jarring, particularly since the split is not among arbitrary pages, but an actual story element.  I personally prefer Luke Ross’s art to Chechetto’s, though both artists handle their segments deftly.  Overall, this is a solid issue, though not the best of recent outings, and, thanks to recap pages and footnotes, serves as a decent point to pick up the ongoing story of Peter Parker.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks


Written by Max Brooks


Art by Ibraim Roberson

Published by Three Rivers Press

Review by Corrine Vitek

Everybody likes zombies.  I’m certainly no exception.  There’s something compelling and horrifying about the concept of the undead that has been grasp onto in recent years as their popularity rises (from the grave, as it were).  So October is the perfect month to publish the newest from Max Brooks, world’s leading zombie expert and the author behind the bestselling The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z.

Instead of a linear narrative, this book takes a different approach.  It’s filled with snippets and stories dealing with mankind’s never-ending battle against the undead. While the book assumes you’ve read The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, this actually works to its advantage.  Brooks jumps right into the action without any lengthy explanations about what the virus is or how it came about (you can find all that in his earlier works).  Instead, focus is more on what happens when mankind comes into contact with the flesh eating dead.

The shorts presented within span millennia, starting in 60,000 B.C Africa and ending in the modern day.  Don’t expect a dynamic overarching story or familiar characters to carry you through.  This reads like an illustrated primer in the history of the undead – which makes sense, given that it IS another chapter from the Guide.  There’s very little text and even less dialogue in the book.  It relies heavily upon the art and historical frame to convey the events.  For the most part, it succeeds.  Some of the stories will be familiar if you’ve read The Zombie Survival Guide, as it builds off some of the antidotal evidence from the first book.  This book reinterprets some of these clashes between man and undead in graphic form.  Still, there’s a lot of new material in here as well.  My favorites were one chronicling a clash between zombies and the Roman Empire at the far reaches of Britain and another about the mishaps of using the undead as biological warfare in WWII.

The strength in Brooks’ work is in the plausibility of his zombie infested universe.  He mixes historical places, legends, and outright fiction so skillfully that you forget these aren’t actually real references.  It in keeping with the pseudo-journalism atmosphere he created in World War Z.  The only real critique I can offer is that most of the stories seem to feature stereotypical European (or “civilized”) groups coming into contact with a “lesser” civilization that has contracted the plague, knows how to fight it, or both.  They seem perilously close to constantly falling under the “white men don’t know what they’re messing with until it comes back and bites them in the ass” trope.  It’s a common horror film mentality but I refuse to believe that Brooks, being as political savvy as he’s proved himself to be, is not aware of it.

This graphic novel has been a long time in coming.  (How long was the publication date pushed back?  Almost a year?)  I know some fans of The Guide will have some difficulty adapting to the comic format but this book is well worth it.  The text is minimal, relying on the suspense of the action to convey the horror of the events.  Black and white is a popular format for horror themed comics and Roberson’s art is very reminiscent of these earlier works.  The style makes use of gore without being gratuitous or over the top.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s enough flesh eating and decapitations to appease most horror fans!  While it’s not a stand-alone collection, Recorded Attacks makes a great addition to the collection of any zombie.  If you enjoyed Brooks’ first two works, you’ll be sorry to miss this!

Dead Future #2

Written by Sebastian Piccione, Candy Hart, and Daniel Palmer

Art by Martinho Abreu, Julio Falkenhagen, and Juha Veltti

Published by Grim Crew

Review by Robert Repici

ADVANCE REVIEW

Get ready for some more zombie goodness. The Grim Crew is coming back with another compelling collection of dark and sinister zombie stories next month. That's right, horror fans. The Grim Crew is set to take us on another journey into their twisted representation of the end of the world in Dead Future #2, the second issue in their zombie outbreak anthology series that features an eclectic bunch of apocalyptic zombie stories. Slated to hit comic shops this November, Dead Future #2 contains three brand-new tales of the undead that all revolve around mindless and menacing zombies, and each story paints a bleak (and sometimes whimsical) picture of the end of the world. Above all, however, just like the first issue in this zombie anthology series, Dead Future #2 does a tremendous job of telling fun and fascinating zombie stories that truly feel both fresh and unique.

The first story, entitled "With a Whimper" and written by Sebastian Piccione with artwork by Martinho Abreu, centers on mankind's last attempt to take out the infectious and overwhelming zombie menace that has ravaged the world once and for all, and reveals just how this seemingly unstoppable zombie force came to power in the first place. One man, a freedom fighter representing humanity's last stand against the pestilence that is the living dead, recounts the events that ultimately led to the dead rising in full force and taking over the world, and devises a plan to wipe out these zombie invaders for good, even if it means sacrificing his own life to do so. Without a doubt, this first tale is extremely absorbing and inventive, and it has one of those great surprise endings that really works to enhance the overall scope of the story. In addition, even though this story focuses on the foreboding final battle between the human race and the living dead, it should be noted that Piccione utilizes a unique blend of horror and comedy here that really makes this one of the most memorable and entertaining stories in this entire zombie anthology series so far. As far as the artwork is concerned, Abreu brings some enticing and energetic visuals to this story that effectively capture both the sense of horror and the sense of humor that permeates through Piccione's script.

The second story, entitled "Kindergarten Zombies" and written by Candy Hart with artwork by Julio Falkenhagen, revolves around a bunch of innocent, yet resilient Kindergartners as they strive and struggle to defend their school from a contingent of infectious zombie invaders, and is definitely one of the most captivating and entertaining zombie stories I've ever read in the comic book medium. That's right. Believe it or not, this is an extremely amusing and engaging story that works to explore how a determined gang of Kindergarten zombie hunters go against all odds and defeat a menacing group of zombie teachers. It's like a kiddie cartoon show mixed with a gory horror film! It's ingenious! Needless to say, from a visual standpoint, the artwork here works wonders, mainly because it's done in a charming "animated" style that's actually reminiscent of a children's cartoon, which certainly goes against the gritty artwork usually seen in your standard gruesome zombie stories. But, hey, the bottom line is that everything works extremely well here. Without a doubt, this is just one hell of a zombie story.

The third story, entitled "The Rest of the Story" (don't ask) and written by Daniel Palmer with artwork by Juha Veltti, focuses on one random man's attempt to reunite with his family in the small town of Dubois, Georgia. Of course, there's just one, small problem: This random guy is now a flesh-eating zombie. Now, needless to say, this is just another one of those grim and gory zombie stories that revolves around a horde of zombies doing whatever it takes to devour the flesh and brains of the living. Consequently, this story comes awfully close to being both derivative and unoriginal. Hey, it's sad, but true. In addition, I can't help but feel that this story just doesn't make a good fit for this anthology series' second issue. Indeed, whereas the first two stories in this issue seem to have a more lighthearted tone, this final story is just extremely dark and moody. In other words, it's basically just your standard zombie story. But, hey, that doesn't mean that this tale is downright dreadful. On the contrary, this last story is incredibly chilling, and Veltti's haunting visuals really capture the dark and ominous atmosphere generated by Palmer's script.

All in all, Dead Future #2 is a great addition to this innovative zombie anthology series. Without a doubt, each story in this series' second issue provides us with an enjoyable dose of zombie entertainment, and they all manage to reinforce the notion that zombie stories have definitely become an extremely prominent and prolific part of our popular culture in this day and age. So, yeah, if you're a comic book reader looking for a fun and exciting take on the ever-evolving zombie genre, you should definitely consider adding this anthology series to your pull list. Once again, the Grim Crew proves that they're more than ready to take us on a terrifying, yet refreshing journey into their "Dead Future".

In case you missed it...

The Little Mermaid Collection

Written by: Raven Gregory & Linda Ly

Pencils by: Claudio Sepulveda


Colors by: Nei Ruffino

Letters by: Alphabet Studios


Published by Zenescope Entertainment

Review by Lan Pitts

This ain't your baby sister's Little Mermaid. Not by a long shot.

In the spirit of Zenescope's style of reimagining fairy tales and such, comes The Little Mermaid. Now, this isn't the story you may know unless you're familiar with the Hans Christian Anderson version of the story. It starts out the way most remember it, a shipwreck with a prince going overboard and rescued by a mermaid princess. Ah, nautical love.

Well, I'm sure you know how the story goes from there: mermaid princess falls in love with prince, makes deal with Sea Witch, becomes mute, gets her heart broken, and...gets ripped in half by the Sea Witch and her remains eaten by sharks? Oh right, this is Zenescope.  Meanwhile, there is another story that parallel's the Mermaid's tale going on featuring the same themes as love, lust, betrayal, and of course Grimm Fairy Tales' recurring antagonist, Belinda. Belinda approaches Lucy, a woman who lives with her young daughter Sara, who is trying to get out of her mother's white trash shadow. Both the mermaid and Sara take some ill advice and both pay the price in their own way.

Originally published as Grimm Fairy Tales #25 and 26, it is now collected into this 56-page issue. There is some really good stuff in here. Claudio Sepulveda draws some amazing landscapes and the opening sequence with the shipwreck is phenomenal. Of course, being aided by Nei Ruffino on colors doesn't hurt either. While Sepulveda does need to improve on his facial constructions, I wasn't turned off or taken out of the story. Speaking of the story, I feel it was too loose in some parts, mainly the motivation of Lucy to use Sara the way she did and why she was listening to Belinda of all people.

All in all, with this collection, you can really see that Zenescope is attempting to step up their game with fantastic visuals and layered stories worth reading.

Trade Relations

The Complete Peanuts 1973 - 1974

By: Charles M. Schulz

Published by: Fantagraphics

Reviewed by: Tim Janson

When I was a kid my mom would take me with her to the local department store almost every Saturday.  The highlight for me was getting a new comic strip book such as “Family circus”, “B.C.”, and my favorite, “Peanuts”.  These collections from Fantagraphics propel you back to a simpler time.  In “Peanuts” we get the always hopeful Charlie Brown, hoping to kick the football and finally win a baseball game; we get the thoughtfully wise Linus, always there to get Charlie Brown cheered up when he’s down; cynical Lucy, Charlie’s foil; and of course Snoopy, whose imaginative adventures, good and bad, are always a highlight.  One can surmise that each of these characters represent a facet of Schulz’ own personality.

Most comic strips today, especially those that are humor strips, often avoid topical subjects.  Schulz embraced the topics of the era.  They may date the strip, but it never leaves them outdated.  For example, we have Snoopy attempting to break Babe Ruth’s all-time homerun record before Hank Aaron.  Schulz even has Snoopy receiving hate mail, lampooning the racist idiots who di the same to Aaron.

Schulz was also not afraid to carry on-going storylines for several days or in some cases, even a couple of weeks.  That’s unheard of today where readership of daily strips has drastically declined.  But Schulz could take the most mundane of plots and make them last and build upon them.  This edition begins with a lengthy plotline following Woodstock’s New Year’s Eve party and subsequently sending Snoopy a bill for items that were broken.  This puts the two fast friends at odds, but you know everything will work out in the end.

And in this edition the unimaginable happens…Charlie Brown’s baseball team finally wins a game.  Their joy is short-lived when the win is forfeited because Linus’ little borther Rerun bet a nickel on the game!  And how funny is that, a headlinie from today’s sports section playing out thirty-five years ago.

This edition also features all the favorite subjects like Linus’ annual wait for the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’s trip to Summer camp, and Sally’s letters to Santa Claus.  This is why Peanuts is the greatest strip ever!

PELLET REVIEWS!

Greek Street #4 (Published by Vertigo Comics, Review by Amanda McDonald): Upon first reading the latest issue, I felt as though it fell a bit flat. There were not as many "holy #%*@%, did I just see that?" moments. . . . but then I sat and really thought about it more. Milligan's story of mythological characters set in modern times has been full of those moments in the first three issues. This issue concentrates more on advancing the storyline, which it does effectively. The stories of previous characters advance, and we are introduced to a new, mysterious character. Makes sense for a fourth issue. He's hooked a lot of us in with these first three, but at some point an author has to devote an issue to advancing the story. Even without the shock factor, I look forward to the next installment to see what trouble the main character, Eddie, finds himself in. Fans of the series that really want to see where the story is going will want to pick this book up.



Gotham City Sirens #4 (Published by DC, Review by Amanda McDonald): Close your eyes and imagine this: You are the Joker. Your 'Puddin' is seen out on the town with who everyone presumes to be Bruce Wayne. What do you do? Well, if you are the Joker being written by Paul Dini-- you tell your men to "find her, finish her, and above all, make it funny!" And so starts this issue. We haven't seen Joker and Harley together (nor facing off) in a very long while, and this issue brings them back with a bang. Throw in Hush also trying to kill Harley, Catwoman and Poison Ivy doing what they do best, and you've got an all-star cast page-turner. Dini's writing is great as always, but I have to say I'm really digging Guillem March's art style and panel construction (as well as Jose Villarrubia's vibrant colors) in this series, and this issue in particular. Fanboys need not look down their nose at this series as a 'girlie' book. Yes, our three main characters are some of Gotham's strongest (and strangest) women. However, this is a series for any and ALL fans of the Bat-universe and its citizens.

Jonah Hex #48 (DC Comics; review by Rev. O.J. Flow)  As we celebrate a fourth full year of one of DC's finest monthly products, I think it's safe to safe to say that the man, Jonah Hex, is 100% Grade-A Badass.  When we last left our western hero, he had been betrayed by a supposed ally and ambushed by a crew of international bounty hunters employed by Quentin Turnbull.  Attacked under the cover of night when everyone else is asleep, Hex is on his own and the odds are not remotely in his favor.  Or so it would appear.  One by one, two by two, the would-be assassins find out the hard way that Hex does not go down easily, not surprising since in an earlier chapter of "Six Gun War" Hex quite literally rose from the grave.  As his more genuine ally, El Diablo, suggests:  "The man is not mortal.  He's more demon than that with which I am cursed."  Not an inaccurate assessment considering the barrage of bullets and blades that Hex withstands in fighting off Turnbull's team of baddies.  Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti script yet another hellraiser of a tale, and artist Cristiano Cucina renders the ultra-violent extravaganza in all it's bloody glory.  One more chapter to go in "Six Gun War," and while the outcome may not be a surprise to anyone who's followed this series from the beginning, but the journey's been a blast to follow.  The first significant multi-part story in this series' history has been a creative success, though I am looking forward to getting back to the single-issue tales a couple months from now.

Superman: World of New Krypton #8 (DC; review by Troy):  An interesting, if occasionally bothersome read, made the latter because it’s frequently hard to remember what the status quo of Thanagar is from minute to minute in the DCU.  Kal-El’s diplomacy was totally in character, and I enjoy seeing how Robinson and Rucka juxtapose the character’s aversion to causing deaths with his role as a military leader.  I imagine that the plot pieces here will become more critical down the line, but isolated as a single issue, it’s a fairly tidy little science fiction adventure.

Doom Patrol #3 (DC; review by Troy):  The lead feature is merely okay.  The REAL reason to buy this is the “Metal Men” co-feature.  Doom Patrol is all right, but has a tendency to meander while the pages stack ponderous tracts of journal entries over the art.  On the other hand, Giffen, JMD, and Maguire are on fire with “Metal”; that material is effortlessly hilarious and looks spectacular.  The conundrum at this point seems to be whether the short page count of the co-feature is worth $3.99 a month.

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