Saturday, October 21, 2006

A killer Suicide Squad reunion, Black Canary flies free while Flash runs nowhere fast

It was a good week for books this week but we had to write in a hurry as FanBoyWonder’s day job is taking us to Chicago next week. But before we go, here’s a rundown of our books this week, as well as a posting on last night’s Battlestar Galactica to follow.

Checkmate #7

The Upshot from DC Comics: An original member of SUICIDE SQUAD returns! But there's more to it than meets the eye as this founding father's outnumbered by his own prey!

We are on record as describing Checkmate as a book that can be too smart for its own good at times and issue #7 could count as one of those times. On first read, we weren’t crazy about this issue, but Checkmate is one of those books that one actually has to READ and not just scan.

There is a lot of nuance contained in the words that fill the dialogue balloons, as well as between the lines. Only a title as good as Checkmate could get away with being a guest in its own book. The Suicide Squad reunion took up most of the story.

When we last left them, The Squad—assembled covertly and illegally by Checkmate White Queen Amanda Waller—had been discovered sneaking into the Union of Myanmar intent on “rescuing”/kidnapping a local meta-human boy being used as a state energy source.

But in a modern twist, the Squad has been sold out by the Villains Society (the bad-guy union) who didn’t care for them taking on an “unauthorized” mission. As the Squad takes on the local army, the bodies start piling up. Punch of Punch and Jewelle was killed at the end of the last issue, followed by Javelin. The Squad figured out it was the Tattooed Man who was the rat and the killed him too.

Bringing up the rear was former Squad veterans Col Rick Flagg and the Bronze Tiger to clean up the mess. We forgot how much we really missed the Suicide Squad and reading Checkmate today makes us realize just how far ahead of its time the Squad title was when it debut in 1987.

More than a crossover, this may be DC’s way of gauging a new Suicide Squad book…not that lame imitator of a couple years back but if original Squad writer John Ostrander came back on board, count on us being the first in line.

Birds of Prey #99

The Upshot from DC Comics: It's time for a change in the Birds' outfit — and the writing is on the computer screen that at least one member of the team will be moving on. With issue #100 just around the corner, now seems the perfect time for a reality check.

We don’t know why we were surprised that Black Canary has left the team given that she is now a member of the brand new Brad Metzler Justice League of America (if he can ever get them past looking at photos at a table) but as much as we’re going to miss the Canary, perhaps it’s time to shake up the team and get some new blood.

Writer Gail Simone speaking through Canary summed it up perfectly: “You picked me up when I was at my lowest and you made me want to be something again.” When Chuck Dixon first started birds in the mid-90s, the Canary was on the bottom side of the “B” list of heroes—better known for being Green Arrow’s girlfriend than anything else.

With the right writing behind her, Canary has proved her potential to be the best, original (i.e. non-derivative heroine—e.g. such as “HAWKgirl or SUPERgirl) female hero.

The same goes for Oracle. As rotten a thing as it is to say, the best thing that ever happened to Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl, was to be shot in the spine and paralyzed by the Joker.

Originally created/rescued by aforementioned John Ostrander in Suicide Squad, Barbara used her unparalleled computer skills to evolve into Oracle, a much bigger player in the hero world than Batgirl ever could have been.

With the Huntress, she may have been forced onto the book due to that short-lived and best left forgotten Birds of Prey WB-television series a couple of years back, but Simone made it work. Better than that, she made Huntress a fully-formed character.

For those too young to remember life before the original-CRISIS, the Huntress was one Helena Wayne, the daughter of the Earth-2 Batman. Following the CRISIS, the Huntress was remade as Helena Burtinelli, an orphaned mafia princess whose only real purpose it seemed was to get punked around by The Batman—talk about no respect.

We’re glad Huntress is staying as we look forward to her watching her continued growth.
Despite some recent missteps, like this issues anti-climatic “new” Batgirl, Simone has made Birds of Prey one of the best team books in play—that’s not one of the best FEMALE books…but one of the best books…period.

With issue 100 next month, it’s a good place to jump on. If you aren’t reading Birds of Prey, you should be.

52 Week 24

The Upshot from DC Comics: IN THIS ISSUE: "You don't really know me, but I'm a big fan and ...well...I wanted to invite you to join the new Justice League."

We’re half way through this weekly experiment and this issue was a mixed bag, much like this series to date. We liked that the story has finally gotten a little bigger to let the reader see the post-Infinite Crisis world and the aftermath.

The recent stories have been so compartmentalized that there was no real sense of time or that it was taking place during the “missing” year. We liked Martian Manhunter’s statue sculpting of falling Justice Leaguers and it’s nice to see SOMEONE acknowledging their guilt for their negligence which contributed to Blue Beatle’s murder.

What we didn’t like was the “new JLA” collection of clowns. This was the wrong issue to make that joke although we now see what a JLA version of Marvel’s Great Lakes Avengers would look like.

Emerging from their post IC (deserved) exile is the Infinite Crisis “primary” art team of Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning. The layouts were quite well done but the finishes were not so hot. This issue’s back up Booster Gold feature with Lanning inking Dan Jurgens’ pencils confirms what we’ve suspected for a while with Jimenez.

In his effort to be more than a George Perez art clone, Jimenez has hitched his artistic wagon to the wrong inker/finisher. If Phil wants to rehab his professional reputation, he should start by finding a new partner.

Amazing Spider-Girl #1

The Upshot from Marvel Comics: Ever wonder why Spider-Girl fans are the, most vocal, most active comic fans of all? Here’s your chance to finally find out! Join us for the start of our second 100 issues as May “Mayday” Parker learns that she can’t escape her great responsibilities! Featuring the original Hobgoblin, the Black Tarantula--and more!

We already talked about much we liked book during its Zero issue a couple weeks ago. Spider-Girl’s relaunch did exactly what Marvel intended, it turned a browser like me into a buyer.

Reading the story by Tom DeFalco with Ron Frenz’s pencils and Sal Buscema’s inks…it made us feel like a kid again…reading the Spidey we used to know and love. But more than a reminder of the past, we like May Parker—she has her father’s sense of responsibility and her mother’s sass.

This book is like saying hello again to an old friend…for the first time.

Flash The Fastest Man Alive #5

The upshot From DC: Past and present collide in a very public battle as the Flash's foe decides he wants the Speed Force for himself!

How can a book and a character run so fast yet go absolutely nowhere???? Just one more issue and we’re out of here. It’s not too late for DC to figure out a way to undo this mess.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Emerald Odd Couplings and the Black Adam Family

It was a light comic book week for FanBoyWonder and for FBW’s wallet—just two books came in for the second week of October but it all-in-all money well spent.

Green Lantern Corps #5

The Upshot from DC Comics: Green Lantern Guy Gardner is helped by an unlikely savior in his battle against the bounty hunter Bolphunga. Meanwhile, in deep space, Lanterns pursue Thanagar's attackers and Mogo gives comfort. But all is not as it seems...

Last issue we noted how it really stuck in our craw in the way that Guy Gardner had become separated from his power ring—sticking it in a hotel safe. Given Guy’s character to date and that it would be a pretty high Corps directive for a GL to NEVER separate himself from his ring we thought it to be a plot hole—but upon further thought, we remembered that a running plot point that Geoff Johns has going in the main Green Lantern title is the fallout from U.S.A.F. Captain Hal Jordan being shot down in enemy territory WITHOUT his ring.

Also, GL Salaak happened upon the scene to chastise Gardner for not having his ring with a punishment to be named later. We admire Writer/Artist Dave Gibbons’ attempt to insert a light hearted moment with Guy’s shore leave but even as it did no real harm, it just didn’t work for us.

Elsewhere in the story, we’re growing more fond Sector 2682’s odd couple of Green Lanterns Vath of Rann and Isamot of Thanagar (a lizard, not humanoid)—two sworn enemies who must work together to protect their mutual sector. But we have to admit we don’t quite remember their introduction given so much going on and a bit of a hazy start both in this series and the six-issue GLC limited series. A recap is in order Dave.

Nonetheless, we like that Gibbons has gotten around to coming up with (or at least leading up to) an explanation as to why Green Lanterns are forbidden from entering or policing the Vegan star system—something as we recall was dreamed up some 25 years ago by Omega Men creator and New Teen Titans writer Marv Wolfman to explain why Green Lantern Hal Jordan couldn’t return Starfire to her native planet in the Vegan system.

It’s nice to see that the Guardians of the Universe’s reach doesn’t or can’t extend everywhere. We hope this gets continued play.

52 Week 23

The upshot from DC: IN THIS ISSUE: "Look what these monsters did to your brother, Isis! They deserve a slow death! Plucked apart like the insects they are!"

We enjoyed this issue but not a surprise given our affinity for all things Marvel Family—but more than that. Black Adam has truly become a fully fleshed out character since he first began to appear in JSA several years back.

Although the term “anti-hero” has been thrown out a lot, since Black Adam is really the anti-Captain Marvel, the term would really apply to him. With his wife Isis and now the addition of his young brother Osiris, Adam really does a family to call his own now.

Given the evens in Judd Winick’s Trials of Shazam, the “Adam family” may be much closer to the traditional “Shazam Family” that we’ve gotten use to over the years than anything else being offered right now.

As for the story line, we have frankly forgotten why the Question and Renee Montoya are involved with this aspect of the plot, even as we are still glad to see them. And we really don’t care about what has happened to Doc Magnus.

That more than anything else may be the fatal flaw of this year-long experiment. As a weekly-book, there are a lot of distinctly different plot threads floating around with little time for the reader to process the information.

Helping neither themselves nor the reader at all is the penchant to keep some story lines dormant for weeks before going back to them—such as with Starfire, Adam Strange and Animal Man lost in space. Since the story is supposed to have been told in real time, it’s been several weeks for the characters as well as the reader but there is little to show for the passage of time.

We would suggest that the 52 crew prepare a recap issue—the readers both old and new need a refresher/crash course as to what’s going on and why we should care about ALL of the storylines. Otherwise, readers like me will continue to cherry-pick what we enjoy and tune out the rest.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Battlestar Galactica—Exodus Part 1

The Upshot from SciFi: The Cylons have begun a brutal crackdown on New Caprica's nascent human Resistance movement. With time running out for the colonists, Admiral Adama must launch his rescue attempt earlier than he'd expected. Although he expected a fight from the Cylons, he is unprepared for the one he gets from his son, Lee, who refuses to let the Battlestar Pegasus join the Galactica's suicidal attack.

SPOILER WARNING!!!! –If you missed BSG on Friday and intend to catch the encore broadcast Monday night at 11 p.m….read no further.

Last week when we left things, we saw that the 200 “suspected” insurgents—including former President Laura Rosin (Mary McDonnell), Tom Zerek (Richard Hatch) and Callie, (Nikki Clyne) Chief Tyrol’s wife—had been driven out to the middle of nowhere under the direction of the Cylon Brother Cavil (Dean Stockwell).

As the Cylon Centurions lined up in a firing squad formation, they aimed their guns at the gathered masses and….fade to black.

Exodus part 1 did a credible job of resolving the cliffhanger in a believable way by starting the episode one hour earlier from last week’s cliffhanger.

A panicked Tyrol seeks out Col Tigh (Michael Hogan) to alert him that Callie is one of the 200 whose death warrant has been signed—by President Baltar (James Callis) with literally a gun to his head.

Tigh orders Tyrol to calm down and clear his head or his wife is a gonner—after a quick planning session, Tigh orders Tyrol to be careful and not get himself caught—“The last thing your son wants is Ellen and me for parents.”

It’s about the kindest thing the salty old bastard will ever be caught saying. It’s also making our stock of Galactica’s former drunk XO rise significantly.

With a group of men, Tyrol successfully ambushes the execution site and saves the group, including Roslin and Zerek who share a fun moment—political differences suddenly don’t mean so much when they are both about to be shot in a ditch.

Meanwhile, the reformed Cylon Boomer—Lt. Sharon Agathon—in command of the Galactica advance party—heads off an ambush of their own by the Cylons. When insurgent lieutenant Sam Anders (Michael Trucco) finds his own map on the body of one of the Cylon “skin-jobs” he knows it was Ellen Tigh who sold them out.

The Cylon Number Three, also known as D’anna Biers (Lucy Lawless with something more to do this episode) has nightmares that “make her question her faith in God.” Those dreams bring her to a New Caprican priest. Acting as an Oracle, the priest tells Number Three that the Cylon/Human child Hera—daughter of Boomer and Lt. Karl Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett), Galactica’s current XO—is still alive.

Later when Number Three walks in on Boomer during a brazen sneak into Cylon headquarters to retrieve confiscated ship ignition keys—a vital element of the rescue plan--Number Three tells Sharon that her baby is alive. It’s not enough to shake Boomer’s hard-won loyalty (nor keep her from double knee-capping Number Three) but the seeds of doubt have been planted.

Adama wouldn’t lie to me” she declares. Since we the viewer do know that Roslin (with Adama’s at least tacit knowledge and approval) faked the baby’s death and hid her within the fleet to be raised by another, you just know this is a plot bomb just waiting to go off.

On Galactica, the Adama men—Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos) and Commander Lee Adama/Apollo (Jamie Bamber) confer. Apollo tries in vein to talk the Admiral out of his rescue attempt and we can see Adama’s disappointment in his son for not wanting to join him as just as we can see his love for his son.

Apollo has fallen so far and it’s not just Jamie Bamber in a fat suit that’s sad to see. Last week, Adama the father chastised his son for being “soft” but more accurately Lee is a broken man. We could see the cracks forming last season during Resurrection Shop part 2 when Apollo’s ship was destroyed leaving him to float helplessly in space awaiting rescue.

He confessed to Starbuck he really didn’t want to come back—to be rescued. Further cracks appeared during the hostage crisis in Sacrifice when Apollo was wounded by Starbuck’s (Katie Sackhoff) friendly fire.

Apollo is the character with the toughest cross to bear in many cases. He can’t be his own man while living in his father’s shadow. He loves his father even as he resents him—at first over the death of his brother and later because Apollo realizes that he is more like his father than he ever knew—the recipe for a great big helping of self-loathing stew.

All is not well among the Cylon either: The occupation has allowed the viewer to get a much closer look at the enemy than ever before. Even they note they have a much more difficult time gaining consensus than before the occupation.

It’s been good to see the Cylon Number Six (Tricia Helfer) in a circumstance other than as the phantom inside Baltar’s head.

A couple things that caught our attention: Following his wounding (but not killing) by insurgents at the failed execution site, Cavil notes that “downloading” or the transferring of a Cylon’s consciousness from one model body to another (cybernetic immortality of a sort) has become progressively harder—hmmmmm a plot seed perhaps?

Also, we realized that we’ve seen the Cylon Leobon Conoy (Callum Keith Rennie) only in the context of his “experiment” with Starbuck and not during the Cylon strategy huddle. Is this significant?

It may not matter because the Galactica is coming to the rescue. Stay tuned.
Free Hit Counters
Online Universities