Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Humbug, Miss Spidey’s Birthday & Sinestro Corps War Recharges Green Lantern

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone—Humbug! Did you miss us?

We’ve been quite the laggard with our postings this past month which we blame on the holiday craziness coupled with a mega-writing project going on at work with other various and sundry wackiness on the home front thrown in for good measure.

One of the many things we had to do during our blog blackout was Christmas shopping for the grandkids so we could “help” Santa to ensure gifts were under the tree this year.

The stores as you can imagine were full of holiday cheer. We had tried and unfortunately failed to acquire a Hanna Montana Dance Mat for Brianna the Girl Wonder—after six stores the little tween sensation became known to us as Hanna F**king Montana—fortunately Brianna received a High School Musical dance mat from Santa so all was not lost.

In order to foster their inner fanboy/fangirl spirits, The Girl Wonder also received a couple of Johnny DC comic titles, a Spider-Man reading book (along with a Disney Princess reading book) and a Cartoon Network Justice League DVD with little Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman figures.

For his part, Baby T. J. was much harder to shop for, T.J. being 3-months old and all, but the upside of that was he really wouldn’t know or care what he got—so among other things we got him a Spider-Man squeeze doll to keep him company in his crib.

Meanwhile, we know we are woefully behind in our comic book reading and reviewing. Allow us to begin to remedy that here with our take on the first batch of books from the week of Dec. 12.

Amazing Spider-Girl #15

The Upshot From Marvel Comics: Double-sized issue! Celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the first appearance of Spider-Girl in What If #105 as the daughter of Spider-Man becomes the widow of the Black Tarantula! Featuring guest-stars galore as Spider-Girl battles a horde of her greatest villains!

FanBoyWonder has made no secret about our love for this book and this character. For our money, The Amazing Spider-Girl is really the only Marvel book worth reading.

So we are quite glad to see Spider-Girl celebrate her 10th anniversary. To us the irony is not lost in that although we’ve’ admired her from afar—we’ve only just recently started collecting the adventures of May “MayDay” Parker since this current title was re-booted following 100 issues of the previous, perpetually struggling Spider-Girl book.

It was 10 years ago this month, FanBoyWonder was visiting our best pal and all around Kemosabe at his then residence in Winston Salem, NC. We found the local comic book store and saw What If #105 featuring Spider-Girl.

As we flipped through the pages we were immediately intrigued by the idea of May Parker, daughter of Peter and Mary Jane. Just a year or so after the disastrous Spider-Clone saga, MayDay represented the path that Spidey should have taken.

Yet we didn’t pick up the issue because why bother—it was a one-shot What If story. No matter how intriguing, it would be forgotten in a month. 10 years later, here we are—go figure.

Young MayDay Parker is more relevant than ever today given Marvel’s current efforts to retroactively dissolve the Peter/MJ marriage.

Spider-Girl is a great character—Pure Spidey but also a solid character who is a believable girl without a hint of storytelling cheesecake or gratuitous (if any) T&A to prop her up.

The fact is we really, really like to see Peter and Mary Jane enjoy a happy marriage and we have enjoyed seeing Peter—once the hero—now serving in the supporting character and side-kick role.

In issue 15, writer Tom DeFalco and penciler Ron Frenz weave the anniversary into their current storyline as the Parker’s celebrate the day that May was returned to them after being kidnapped at the end of the Clone-Saga even as the Hobgoblin continues his never-ending plan to break Miss Spidey.

We eventually would like to see the daughter of Spider-Man and his greatest foe go at it but for now we continue to enjoy the build up.

Spider-Girl is a book and a hero that we look forward to sharing with Brianna The Girl Wonder when she is old enough.

Suffice to say Happy Birthday Miss Spidey—many happy returns and another 10 years to come.

Green Lantern #25

The Upshot From DC Comics: This is it! The most talked-about storyline of the summer, "The Sinestro Corps War," concludes in this double-sized anniversary issue! Why does Sinestro believe he has won? How will Hal Jordan stop his greatest enemy? What is the truth behind the prophecy of "The Blackest Night"? Where will the end results of this battle take the Green Lantern Corps? What is the bizarre fate of the Anti-Monitor? Why has Earth been assigned so many Green Lanterns? Learn all the secrets! Witness all the battles! Prepare yourself for the startling ending of the greatest epic in the history of Green Lantern!

Although we agree with the multi-universal sentiment that the Sinestro Corps War storyline was both the best Green Lantern story in years and by far the best “event” story across the DC Universe of 2007.

Our overall verdict on the series is that it was a good, even a VERY Good storyline but it fell short of being GREAT. In large part it fell short by design or by a deliberate effort to hold back—there were times when could feel the story building toward critical mass when Team GL—Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons with Peter Tomasi at the end—would subtlety but perceptibly dial it back.

While the story did have a definite conclusion, it also shamelessly sets up events for future storylines complete with a “Coming Soon” page—with teases to an upcoming Black Lantern saga as well as more subtle seeds planted for the more imminent Final Crisis.

Coming Soon was a quaint devise when Johns first did it in Justice Society of America #1 and it isn’t too bad here but we fear it is ripe for overuse.

One devise that Johns does overuse in this issue is his sappy tugging of the heart strings regarding Hal Jordan’s brother and family in Coast City. They only seem to appear at the end of this story to be endangered and the decision of the Coast City folk not to run from the Sinestro Corps but to stay was designed to be inspirational but all it did was serve as a distraction.

Nonetheless, after creatively coasting for the past year, Johns has found his Green Lantern mojo again.

Black Adam: The Dark Age #5

The Upshot From DC Comics: Black Adam comes closer to retrieving one of the final pieces of Isis's magical amulet, but even he can't contemplate how far a secret group would go to bring his bloodshed to an end.

Last month we noted how much we have grown to like this mini-series following our initial reluctance to pick up it in the wake of the 52/World War III fiasco and Black Adam’s part therein.

But as we’ve noted, writer Peter Tomasi has not only managed to recapture the theme of Black Adam as anti-hero that Geoff Johns first fostered in the pages of JSA but Tomasi has not only matched Johns’ take on Adam but he’s taken portrayal of the black sheep of the Marvel Family to the next level.

Issue 5 advances the story along as Adam continues to find the final pieces of his late wife Isis’ amulet that he needs to bring her back from the dead. We also discover that the government has managed to fashion a 50 caliber bullet made from a piece of the Rock of Eternity—a magic bullet that can kill even a holder of the Power of Shazam.

However, the meat of the issue comes in a during a breakfast meeting between Albert Rothstein and Teth-Adam—the once allies and friends, Adam Smasher can’t condone Black Adam’s mass murderous actions, even as he grieves for the loss of his one-time friend’s wife.

Yet Al still can’t totally turn on Adam as he gives Teth a piece of Isis’ finger he had missed—Adam needs her entire skeleton to raise her back to life. Yet Al holds onto Isis’ ring—talk about mixed motives.

Given that this is not a friendship that could possibly last beyond the whims of writers Johns and Tomasi, we see the official dissolution of their bond in that diner as Adam leaves under an unease armistice between the two.

The next time Adam Smasher and Black Adam meet, they will be enemies again but personally, we hope they don’t have to meet.

Nightwing #139

The Upshot from DC Comics: "The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul," Part 6 of 7, guest-starring Damian and Talia al Ghul! Is this the Nightwing vs. Robin battle that we've all been dreading? Meanwhile, Ra's moves one step closer to his goal at Nanda Parbat — but will Batman and crew arrive too late?

Again, we could care less about this storyline but we loved guest writer Fabian Nicieza’s take on Nightwing.

However, the only thing that intrigued us about an otherwise useless issue for us was at the end and the brief scene between Nightwing and Talia. We remember way back when during the Pre-CRISIS when the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and the adopted son of the Bat would mix like oil and water as they fought for the attention of Batman.

We would really like to see a story that teams up Talia and Dick where they have to deal with each other head to head and hash out their relationship once and for all.

Next issue it’s show time where new writer Peter Tomasi takes over Nightwing. We have high hopes and even higher expectations. Stay tuned.
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