Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Adam Delivers, Titans East Sucks (Told Ya So) & Thank You Planet Comics

Forgive our tardiness but FanBoyWonder has been recouping following our trip down South to see the grandkids plus that giant sucking sound that is the holidays. However, we're endeavoring to catch up on our comic reviews in two parts--first last week and then the most recent week of books.

Before we get rolling, a special thanks to Rob at Planet Comics for his special attention and kindness toward Brianna The Girl Wonder. It was while Grandpa FBW and The Girl Wonder were comic shopping during our (all too brief) time together that Brianna picked up a Johnny DC title, The Batman Strikes, as well as a Batman heroclick figure from the store’s machine.

When the machine malfunctioned, spitting out only a bubble top, Rob very kindly opened up the machine and allowed Brianna to pick out whatever little figure she wanted, which pleased her to no end.

So again, thank you Rob for your kindness to our fangirl princess.

From the better late than never file, here’s our take on the books from the week of Nov. 14.

Black Adam: The Dark Age #4

The Upshot From DC Comics: As Teth-Adam finds himself on the verge of death, a new weapon is revealed that may be able to kill Black Adam — even when he is fully powered. Is a secret cabal in possession of this weapon, and will the members of the JLA and JSA be able to bring Black Adam to justice before this weapon is implemented?

We’re halfway through this eight-issue mini-series and so far it has managed to deliver all that it has promised and them some.

Peter Tomasi’s script coupled in perfect tandem with the visuals by art team Doug Manhke and Christian Alamy make a compelling and easy to read story, yet a tale complex enough that the reader divines something new with each re-read.

Even while wounded, shot in his mortal form, Black Adam remains true to who he is—tough to the core, however ruthless but with a sense of honor. Circumstances are forcing Adam to use the latent magic from his wife Isis’ corpse much too much in order for him just to stay alive.

He’s no closer to finding a way to bring her back to life but he has managed to kill a lot of black ops bad guys in inventively gruesome ways.

Our favorite scene comes when the veterinarian to whom Adam has taken hostage for medical attention how she was afraid to kill the unconscious and mortal Adam as she treated his gunshot wounds—just the slight chance that he might awaken, speak his magic word and destroy kill everyone in her entire town kept her in line.

Better yet that Adam actually seems shocked that he is seen as such a monster, even when he knows that he is.

Writer Geoff Johns did a great job in the pages of JSA by laying the ground work for Black Adam from being more than just the anti-Captain Marvel to an anti-hero whose warrior code is 5,000 years out of step with the rest of the world.

After going off the rails in 52, Tomasi has managed to recapture what Johns had been attempting and take the Black Adam character to the next level. Keep it up.

All New Booster Gold # 4

The Upshot From DC Comics: The critically acclaimed smash hit of the decade continues! (Hey, we're optimists!) Booster Gold, Rip Hunter, Barry "The Flash" Allen and Wally "Kid Flash" West are stranded in time with a broken cosmic treadmill, and hot on their tail is the murderous… Supernova? Plus, what's going on with Dan Garrett — the Golden Age Blue Beetle?

This is the most fun series that we’ve read in a long time. Having read the original 25-issue run of Booster Gold in the 1980s, we can say that writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz, along with artist Dan Jurgens—who by the way created Booster back in the day— are really firing on all cylinders here.

They have taken all of what worked with Booster from his original series, cherry-picked the less nonsensical elements of the character from Booster’s Justice League International days and then they’ve given him an actual purpose—policing the time-stream and the multiverse from all threats foreign or domestic.

While it was nice to see Flash and Kid Flash/Barry Allen and Wally West together again thanks to time-travel, the story didn’t go gaga featuring them. Booster Gold is the star of this book with his faithful companion and all around “Time Master” Rip Hunter.

While we’re not so hot with the use of Daniel Carter, Booster’s 21st Century ancestor and current roommate, the reveal of Supernova as Booster’s estranged father from the 25th Century gives our reluctant hero a worthy opponent. It also drills deeper into the personal history of Booster—the refugee from the 25th Century.

In the original Booster Gold series, Booster had a twin sister Michelle/Goldstar who was “killed” toward the end of the original series. Although we never saw a body, there’s never been opportunity or cause to bring her back…until now. We liked Michelle so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Nightwing # 138

The Upshot from DC Comics: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul, Part 2 of 7! Could it be? Nightwing and Robin fighting side by side with Damian? Will the combined might of Batman's three "sons" be enough to overcome the machinations of the newly reborn Ra's al Ghul? And what will Nightwing do when Robin is tempted with an offer he can't refuse? Guest starring Talia al Ghul and the Sensei!

Full disclosure: We’re not following this “Resurrection” storyline going on in the Bat-books. To be honest, we could really give a rat’s arse about it. Yet this was one of the most enjoyable issues of Nightwing that we’ve read in ages….years even.

Why? Because guest writer (read “fill-in” writer) Fabian Nicieza has managed to “get” Nightwing in such a way that has stumped so many other resident writers of this book.

Nicieza says it all in the first line in the first page—“This guy is good. I’m better.” YES! Bulls-eye. No second-guessing, no whining and no mistaking him for a punching bag. A competent and confident Nightwing.

When Batman calls him, Nightwing calls him “boss.” In the “family business,” he’s the go-to guy when no one else can be trusted.

Our favorite scene is Batman offers Nightwing his code to the JLA teleporter and Nightwing surprises his mentor by calling out the code. The Dark Knight surprised!

Even as we look forward to new regular writer Peter Tomasi in a couple issues, we hope that DC keeps Nicieza’s number on speed dial…just in case.

Suicide Squad #3

The Upshot from DC Comics: A mystical link to the Squad's first leader is revealed, as its current leader finalizes a new lineup of unimaginable power!

It’s tough reading a story knowing the outcome for a certain character. We so enjoyed Col. Rick Flag’s time in Skartaris after escaping his would-be suicide nuke bombing of Qurac that we were disappointed when he made it out of the magical savage land back into Qurac…where as we know from the pages of Checkmate he had been an off the books P.O.W.

We were more disappointed to see Flag’s enemy and Jihad counterpart Rustam survived the nuke with Flag only to die by Flag’s hand in combat. More is the pity considering writer John Ostrander spent so many pages on Rustam’s back story and history with Flag.

But we’ll say it again; we’ve enjoyed this focus on Rick Flag as we’re really getting to know this character for the first time. Two decades ago in the original Squad series, Ostrander introduced us to a Rick Flag who was already fraying at the edges.

Now that the story is all caught up to the present, we’re looking forward to Ostrander’s take on the 21st century Suicide Squad in upcoming issues.

Amazing Spider-Girl #14

The Upshot from Marvel Comics: As Spider-Girl learns the fate of a family member; the Hobgoblin unearths the secret origin of the Black Tarantula.

While this was an altogether solid issue, we’re getting just a little bit antsy to see the long-promised square off between the Hobgoblin and Spider-Girl. Yet, we are totally enjoying the in-depth character study of Roderick Kingsley as the Hobgoblin in a way that’s not been possible until now…in this book set in an alternate future.

Writer Tom DeFalco writes Hobgoblin just as he did back in the day—an arrogant megalomaniac. Yet now that we know his true identity, this provides DeFalco the chance to drill deeper into what makes this bad guy tick. So maybe it will be worth the wait.

Meanwhile, the revelation that baby Ben Parker is already exhibiting spider-powers is an interesting plot threat that we look forward to seeing developed.

Teen Titans East Special #1

The Upshot from DC Comics: Titans Tower is back up and running on the East Coast as Judd Winick, Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund assemble an explosive new team of Titans under the leadership of Cyborg! But their first mission may be their last as powerful forces gather to destroy all Titans past and future!

Finally, we have saved some room and have sharpened our poison pen to take this time…well to gloat. WE TOLD YOU SO!!!!!

Regular FanBoyWonder readers will recall our public pronouncement that this book by these “creators” Judd Winick and Ian Churchill, would turn out to be a god awful clusterf**k and we urged everyone NOT to purchase this special.

We followed our own advice, reading it at the comics store and it took us not long at all to see just how awful it truly was. A 16-page flashback of the Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans team??? Half the issue is a flashback????

Misters Winick and Churchill, we read Wolfman and Perez, we loved Wolfman and Perez. You sirs are NOT Wolfman and Perez. You owe them a public apology for attempting to rip them off and/or attempting to attach your non-talent to their glory days.

Dan Phillips of sums it up so perfectly:

Let's start with the opening flashback, which takes up a full sixteen pages and is about as original as any other superheroes vs. super-villains battle you'll find in any mediocre comic every written. Some bad attempts at witty dialogue are made, penciller Ian Churchill flexes his "muscles and boobs" style of art, and we're forced to watch as a battle of absolutely no consequence unfolds for entirely too long,” writes Phillips.

“Once again, DC has proven that they are not above the worst type of clichéd, gimmicky and hackney attempts at sucking the blood out of past concepts and series. I can only hope this upcoming Titans East ongoing goes away as quickly as some of the other attempts at revitalizing a form of the original Wolfman/Perez team.”

We have a sentimental attachment to the Wolfman/Perez Titans since we were a FanBoyWonder only just a little older than Brianna The Girl Wonder. But we can’t stand the thought of these characters being abused by this pair of no-talent a** clowns.

To the powers that be at DC—Please in the name of RAO…. step in and do a Batman and Outsiders-like 11th hour creative team reshuffle—or just cancel the planned new Titans East book outright.

Stop Winick and Churchill before these (comic book) character assassins kill again!!!!


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