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!!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Razor Flashback Finale—The Escape

(Pictured above: Do NOT frak with this manCommander William Adama as played by Master Thespian Tough Guy Edward James Olmos.)

A Happy Thanksgiving to Fanboys and girls everywhere. FanBoyWonder and Mrs. LoveyWonder have been enjoying our holiday doing nothing…absolutely nothing as we recover from the big trip South to see the grandkids last weekend. So far, doing nothing is everything we hoped it would be (Office Space anyone?).

But as we catch up on our sleep and the fog starts to lift, we’re getting back up to speed on our reviews starting with the final Galactica Flashback “mini-sode” just in time for Battlestar Galactica: Razor original tele-movie airing Saturday at 9 p.m. (EST) on Sci-Fi Channel (check local listings).

The Upshot from Sci-Fi Channel: Lt. William Adama/Husker (Nico Cortez) witnesses the rise of a new Cylon threat while he gets some unexpected news from the Battlestar Galactica.

Last week, we left Husker in an untenable position. Young Adama encountered survivors and victims of secret Cylon experiments following his crash landing into a Cylon lab on a baron ice planet. However, the aforementioned laboratory building is coming down around him and Husker has concluded (with the urging of the trapped victims) to run to save his life and spread the word of what the Cylons have done here.

As he emerges from the laboratory warehouse, Husker sees the Cylon basestar lifting off from the ground (hence the severe seismic tremors). Radioing his Mayday to Galactica, Husker urgently reports the Cylon experimentation on humans and that the “toasters” are getting away with their findings.

Yet the voice on the other side of Husker’s wireless informs Adama that an armistice has been signed and the war is over.

Flash forward forty years to just two days before the start of the second Cylon War/Cylon genocidal sneak attacks on the twelve colonies.

We see Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos, although in the credits he is listed as “Admiral”) standing before a display case with a Cylon Centurion inside along with other relics of the first Cylon War aboard the Battlestar Galactica museum.

Remember, when we were introduced to the re-imagined BSG in the miniseries, Galactica was about to be decommissioned and turned into a museum of the Cylon War (not unlike the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York City) while Adama was also set to be retired from service.

As Commander Adama ponders the events of his youth, Aaron Doral (Matthew Bennett in an all too brief appearance)—the Galactica museum’s public relation’s feeb informs Adama that his son, Capt. Lee Adama/Apollo (Jamie Bamber) has been confirmed as lead pilot in the flyby planned for the battlestar’s decommissioning ceremony.

Of course, we all know now that Doral is a Cylon of the flesh and blood kind (“skinjobs”), the successful end result of the human experiments that the one-time Viper jock named Husker witnessed all those years ago.

Doral leaves but not before making a comment that “Galactica’s war is long over,” and Adama ponders the old Cylon Centurion a bit longer.

Cut to an outside shot of the Battlestar Galactica—the very first shot of the Galactica that we first saw in the BSG mini-series…but in reverse as instead of zooming in, the camera zooms out making the obsolete warship look smaller and smaller —full circle.

Only the beginning…….

Okay…this is why Edward James Olmos is The Man. Commander Adama hardly has dialogue lines of consequence yet it’s what Olmos the actor DOESN’T say—his trademark heavy silence and pained expression of thinking backward—that wraps up this flashback story quite nicely.

But just as in last week’s “mini-sode” Survivors, here again in The Escape we see the storytelling limitations of the mini-sode format.

In his “escape,” although we’re supposed to believe that the Cylon lab is collapsing around him, which prompted him to leave the imprisoned survivors behind, it looks like Husker has merely stepped outside the building and it really rattles the viewer’s suspension of disbelief.

Our immediate thought in watching this was… “Okay, the Cylons are bugging out, can’t he go back inside and rescue the prisoners at his leisure???”

A CGI image of the building collapsing or even an off-camera sound effect or something to indicate the survivors had indeed perished would have gone a long way toward preserving the integrity of the story.

However, in the grand scheme when viewed together in sequence, these Flashbacks will stand-up and provide some nice extra context when viewing the main event—Battlestar Galactica: Razor.

Following the airing of Battlestar Galactica: Razor this Saturday night on the Sci-Fi Channel (check local listings), with FanBoyWonder commentary to follow. So say we all!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Meet The Next Generation FanBoy—Baby T.J.

(Pictured above: FanBoyWonder’s grandchildren—1) Our month-old grandson T.J.; 2) “Big Sister” Brianna The Girl Wonder who adores her brand new baby brother.)

FanBoyWonder cordially invites you to meet our brand new grandson—Baby T.J.

Grandpa FBW and Mrs. LoveyWonder made the LONG drive South this past weekend to meet the little guy who was born not quite a month ago—as well as to visit with our baby girl Brianna the Girl Wonder.

[We got back late Sunday and then FBW has had to punch the ole time clock at work without respite but we’ll get back up to speed with regular programming during the Holiday weekend.]

It was a joy to meet the little man who has already endured quite a lot just by being born. His mom and dad tell us that his prognosis following his emergency heart surgery is quite good and he’s been getting a clean bill of health during doctor check-ups (talk about small miracles).

T.J. slept quite a lot during our visit but when he was awake, we were in awe of his intelligent and curious eyes. He’s got it all in front of him.

Meanwhile, Brianna the Girl Wonder is quite proud to be a big sister to T.J. and she doted on him frequently when we were there.

Thankfully, we were able to get a lot of time to spend with Brianna—including two blessed overnight visits at our hotel where we got to watch her sleep, as we did when Brianna herself was a baby.

We also had to adjust to the many little changes as we realized Brianna has grown and matured during the six months since we last saw her (it’s felt like much longer).

We made the most of our time with Brianna—both when visiting T.J. and when we were off on our own together. The only downside was it when it came time to leave her again. That part NEVER gets easier.

Brianna didn’t want to say “good-bye” she told us as she cried. We fought back our own tears until we all got it together to put on happy faces (thanks to Baby T.J.) and Brianna was smiling when we walked out the door.

We are already planning our next visit but time spent with Brianna and now with Baby T.J. can’t come soon enough or last long enough.

But no matter how long it takes until we can meet again, we will NEVER, EVER say “good-bye” to our Brianna again.
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