Saturday, October 13, 2007

Emerald Foot-Dragging, Spider-Family Guilt & Don't Drink While Time Traveling

FanBoyWonder is just a couple hours away from having to catch a plane to our old stomping grounds in Boston for a business trip. But before we head to beantown, here’s our view of the books for the week of October 10 from the shotgun formation:

Green Lantern #24

The Upshot from DC Comics: The Sinestro Corps War" continues as Hal Jordan and the world's greatest heroes struggle against the combined terror of Sinestro, Parallax and the Corps of Fear. And when Hal finds himself face-to-face with one of the most bizarre members of the Sinestro Corps he has a simple choice to make — keep fighting and die or lay down and walk away. Plus, what is the prophecy of the Blackest Night and what does it mean to the future of Hal Jordan and the Corps?

This was by no means a bad issue and was actually quite good. Writer Geoff Johns has undergone a creative recharge with the Sinestro Corps storyline after phoning it in for most of last year (that is whenever they could make deadline).

The issue centers on Kyle Rayner’s rescue from his possession by the Parallax entity and his being brought back into the fold a as rank-and-file Green Lantern, leaving his days as Ion the Torchbearer of the Green Lantern Corps behind him.

Although this was done quite well, aided not a little by the art team of Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert, our issue with this issue was that we’ve known for weeks that this would be the end result thanks to the god-awful Countdown.

There was zero suspense and little reason to care about the battle for Kyle’s soul—we already knew it was going to be saved.

This chapter of the Sinestro Corps War could have and perhaps should have been told during the Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax one-shot from a couple of weeks ago, which would have left room to show what we REALLY wanted to see—the main event.

The focus on Kyle took away from the overall invasion of Earth by the Sinestro Corps, the Manhunters, Cyborg Superman, Superboy-Prime and the Anti-Monitor. What should have been Holy S**t moments were glossed over in favor of returning to the part of the story that we’ve known for weeks would turn out favorably.

After a slow but steady build up and a gangbusters start, the Sinestro Corps storyline is starting to lose momentum and we fear it’s headed for a stall.

Enough with the foot dragging! Get on with the big showdown! There are just two more chapters to go—in next month’s Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern,

Unless both chapters are each grand slam home runs (which is well within their story telling abilities) we fear the Sinestro Corps will have tragically undelivered—all wind up and no pitch.

Come on guys, we’re tired of DC’s disappointments. Knock our socks off, please!

Suicide Squad Raise the Flag #2

The Upshot From DC Comics: Stranded alongside his worst enemy in an otherworldly wilderness, Rick Flag Jr. is stunned by memories of a previously unknown life in Black Ops as the 8-issue miniseries heats up!

This was the character story that we’ve waited 20 years to read. This issue focused nearly exclusively on Rick Flag, who is NOT dead as we believed him to be all those years ago.

Way back during the first Suicide Squad series, Flag bombed Qurac but as it turned it WASN’T a suicide bombing as Flag and his Jihad counterpart Rustam were pulled into a dimensional rift created by Rustam’s mystical Scimitar to the savage land of the weapon’s origin—Skartaris.

Faced with being strangers in a strange land with a common threat, they do the old put aside their differences for mutual survival thing—pretty standard really.

What made the issue for us was the focus on Rick Flag. Back during the first series when John Ostrander first introduced Flag to us, the man was already damaged goods well on his way toward crumbling.

Now we look forward to meeting the real Rick Flag.

Amazing Spider-Girl #13

The Upshot from Marvel Comics: While Spider-Girl deals with the guilt over what happened to her baby brother; the Hobgoblin narrates this issue as he cements his plans for a gang war with the Black Tarantula.

In case we haven’t mentioned it, we REALLY love this book and this character. Frankly, we can’t believe it took us so long to get on board but since we have, it has YET to let us down.

At the start of the issue we see May Parker reeling from the guilt for her baby brother Ben’s hearing loss following his kidnapping by Carnage.

In her guilt, May believes that her father Peter is freezing her out, holding her responsible for using the sonic weapon that freed the baby from Carnage’s symboite but damaged the little boy’s hearing. In reality, Peter is blaming himself for not being able to fire the weapon, forcing his daughter as Spider-Girl to do the deed.

Guilt is indeed a Parker family tradition.

Meanwhile, May’s boyfriend Gene Thompson is at his wits end with his absentee girlfriend, not knowing that she is saving lives as Spider-Girl. Heartbroken and awash with guilt, Mayday can’t defend herself. This time, the truth can’t set her free.

The adventures of Mayday Parker and Spider-Girl are the total flip-side of the high school days of her dad “Puny” Parker and Spider-Man. It’s even harder to be popular and to be a hero than to be the class outcast.

Okay, writer Tom DeFalco’s dialogue in the high school scenes are laughable—it really does read like a middle-aged person trying (and failing) to imagine interaction between teenagers—but given the book’s many other strengths, we can over look this one.

While all this unfolds, The Hobgoblin is lurking in the background—moving the chess pieces and getting ready to take on the daughter of his greatest enemy.

At first we were annoyed that it was taking DeFalco so long to bring the Hobgoblin up but we now like how he is drawing it out…not rushing it. Better yet, DeFalco gives us some valuable insight inside Hobgoblin’s head.

He’s every bit afraid of Miss Spidey as she is of him. He can’t rest until he’s gotten her first.

The art for this issue by Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema was as always is first rate. Their attention to detail continues to wow us. Mayday’s facial features and the way she is drawn she genuinely looks like the child of Peter and Mary Jane.

And not a gratuitous T&A shot anywhere in the book. Miss Spidey under team Spider-Girl successfully demonstrates that a female super-hero does NOT have to be a super-tramp.

All New Booster Gold #3

The Upshot from DC Comics: Booster Gold heads back to the Old West and runs into Jonah Hex. You know, that crazy looking gunfighter! But what does Jonah Hex have that Booster desperately needs? Plus: the Death of Jonah Hex!!
We like a book that’s serious in its storytelling but yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Okay, we know that sounds funny given the premise of the book calls for Booster Gold and his pal “Time Master” Rip Hunter to travel the multiverse putting right was has gone wrong with the space/time continuum—but it works.

This issue, the as yet unidentified villain who hijacked the SuperNova costume and bag of tricks has gone back to the old west to mess with Superman’s history. How? By killing an ancestor of Jonathan Kent and depriving the Last Son of Krypton of his adopted father, he would instead by raised by the Luthor family and be “brothers” with Lex.

Personally we liked seeing Booster in that Queer Eye-inspired cowboy outfit and getting drunk in the saloon with legendary gunslinger Jonah Hex.

Mission accomplished, Booster made his way back to the time machine and to Rip Hunter. Against his better judgment, Rip lets Booster take the helm but friends shouldn’t let friends operate the time machine drunk. Before they know it they get into a time-stream fender-bender with the Flash and Kid Flash (Barry Allen and a young Wally West) aboard their cosmic-treadmill.

This is a meeting we are looking forward to next issue.

Black Adam: The Dark Age #3

The Upshot from DC Comics: After Black Adam and Faust strike a deal within the bowels of Fate's Tower that will aid Adam in his search for the lost amulet of Isis, Adam finds himself face to face with his former JSA teammate, Hawkman, in an epic battle that will rock the streets and skies of St. Roch!

This is the anti-hero that we remembered from the pages of JSA and the promise that we started to see in 52 before the treatment of Black Adam went off the rails during the World War III “event.”

Black Adam is wanted all over the world because of his global rampage following the murder of his family (again).

Now he is single-mindedly determined to bring back his wife Isis from the dead. He very nearly succeeded during the first issue thanks to one of the Lazarus Pits—but Adam needs to re-assemble the pieces of Isis’ mystical amulet to complete the deal.

Meanwhile, Adam has mystically found a way to access his powers by bypassing the Power of Shazam and drawing mystical energy from the bones of his wife—but the longer he uses his powers, the more he drains her life force and diminishes the chances of returning Isis to life.

Adam encounters Hawkman while retrieving a piece of the amulet. The confrontation between the one-time friends and allies from literally many lives ago brought out the best in both characters and it’s a confrontation we totally enjoyed.

The art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy perfectly complemented the story and in fact the compelling visuals actually advanced writer Peter Tomasi’s complex tale to the next level.

Stung from disappointing 52 and World War III series and suffering from event fatigue, even our love of all things Marvel Family/Shazam wasn’t enough to make us want to get this book at first. Thankfully, our friends at Brainstorm Comics gave us a copy of issue #1 anyway—and we are grateful.

Understated as it may be, Black Adam The Dark Ages may end up being one of the best books of the year. Shazam baby!

Okay, nuff said. We have a plane to catch! So long for now.


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