Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Booster Gold, Four Blue Beetles & A Cavalcade Of Comics

Proving that there’s no grass growing under the feet of your friendly neighborhood FanBoyWonder, we’ve been busy, busy, busy—unfortunately that has meant not having our usual time for reflective comic book reviews.

Coupled with the fact that it was a hefty half-dozen books that our friends at Brainstorm Comics pulled from our list most recently and you have a sure fire recipe for us to work our comics reviews from the shotgun formation.

So without further ado, here’s FanBoyWonder’s take on the books for the week of January 16.

Booster Gold #6

The Upshot From DC Comics: "52 Pick-Up" concludes as Booster Gold journeys back in time to save the best friend he ever had - the Blue Beetle! But can Booster stop Maxwell Lord before someone else dies in Ted Kord's place? And will Ted Kord let that happen?

One door closes and another one opens. Credit to the writing team of Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz. They gave us exactly what we wanted by having Booster along with the trio of past, present and future Blue Beetles save their namesake Blue Beetle Ted Kord’s life by preventing his murder at the hands of Checkmate’s Maxwell Lord.

This is something that Booster Gold has been itching to do since hooking up with Time Master Rip Hunter and traveling across time and space and multiverse to make right what has gone wrong with the timeline.

Yet at issues end we cant’ help but feel something has gone disastrously wrong with Ted Kord’s rescue. While we strongly suspect that Ted’s new lease on life is only good through this story arc, there is just enough glimmer of hope and past history to leave us guessing.

After all Geoff Johns in the pages of JSA helped correct one of the most horrific wrongs of 1994’s Zero Hour by using time travel to retroactively prevent the death of the original Hourman Rex Tyler. If only the original Atom and Dr. Mid-Nite could have been saved as well.

As always kudos on the art by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund. They maintain their own visual style while also managing to replicate the art of different illustrators when the story revisits a historic event from the DCU.

Just like the character, Booster Gold is the greatest comic book title you hardly hear anything about.

Birds of Prey #114

The Upshot From DC Comics: Oracle delves into the mystery of Misfit while Lady Blackhawk and Huntress hash out their differences.

The jury for us is still out with new writer Sean McKeever but his stock went up big time following this issue as he chose to tackle something even the great and beloved former BOP writer Gail Simone never got around to—a spotlight on Lady Blackhawk.

You know we’ve been reading this title continuously since issue #1 came out a decade ago but for the life of use we can’t remember when or how Lady Blackhawk was introduce to the Birds of Prey. We just suddenly noticed she was the Birds’ pilot and a pretty balsy babe besides.

Through the wackiness of time travel, Zinda is old enough to be getting an A.A. R. P. discount but yet always getting carded at the bar. She is a cute combination of macho, tough, jovial and just a little naïve to the ways of the post-modern world.

Meanwhile, Misfit continues to be on Oracle’s s**tlist following last issue’s disastrous operation that resulted in a big bang in downtown Metropolis. No doubt Oracle is still smarting from the lecture Superman gave the Birds for f**king up by the numbers and we see Barbara Gordon channeling her inner Bruce Wayne to Misfit’s Dick Grayson as Oracle relentlessly berates and pushes the kid during “training” sessions.

The appearance at the end of the issue by Black Alice seeming to accept Oracle’s apparent invitation to join the Birds should lead to some interesting moments of character tension. Stay tuned.

Checkmate #22

The Upshot From DC Comics: "Mademoiselle Marie" concludes! Will Black Queen's Knight get her target safely out of Bialya, or will she become the latest Mademoiselle Marie to be laid to eternal rest?

This was by no means a bad issue and if anything it was even better than the first part of this arc. We've been wanting this book to focus in on characters and we get our wish here with Mademoiselle Marie.

The designation of “Mademoiselle Marie” is a high honor among the French as it’s a title passed along to female patriot/spy/warriors of France one to the next through the generations.

The current Marie Josephine Tautin is dispatched to save the daughter of a U.N. diplomat kidnapped by insurgent terrorists. This same diplomat happens to be the long lost love of Tautin—but to be Mademoiselle Marie one must sacrifice their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness to serve France.

All in all this is a pretty by the numbers rescue story. Not bad but didn’t blow our doors off either. Again as we noted last issue, series writer Greg Rucka brings in a co-writer Eric Trautmann for this 2-part character story, which tells the reader that he is taking a breather in-between mega story arcs.

Rucka’s outsourcing/delegation also tells us that Checkmate character profiles aren’t his bag or his primary interest and he’s just filing issues before his next broad themed story arc featuring characters we hardly know (even after nearly 2 years worth of issues) begins.

Justice League of America #17

The Upshot From DC Comics: Double trouble for the League! First, in the lead story written by Alan Burnett, a mysterious and familiar team from beyond time has infiltrated the Hall of Justice looking for a weapon. Will Black Lightning be their first victim? And wait 'til you see who they are! Plus, writer Dwayne McDuffie begins a very special back-up story exploring what's wrong with Vixen's powers. And when her condition worsens, it leads to a new arc and major change for the Leaguer.

We feel bad for writer Dwayne McDuffie because we get the sense that he is really trying to raise the quality level on this book despite the many handicaps imposed upon him by the various and sundry “events” occurring outside this book as well as mandates from DC management.

We suspect that McDuffie was trying to give readers two stories for the price of one but all he really ended up doing was giving us two partially complete stories.

The Justice League as the hero team with the DCU’s big guns should be involved as it turns out the U.S. Government is “rendering” supervillians big and small off planet and away from Earth—trial and charges not withstanding.

It also makes perfect sense that the remaining villains on the loose would come to the League to seek help and sanctuary from the government.

At the same time, we are glad that Vixen’s wacky power situation is FINALLY being addressed—but these are both topics that deserved a full airing. Better luck next issue.

The Flash #236

The Upshot From DC Comics: The stunning conclusions of feature story arc "The Wild Wests" - with art by fan-favorite Freddie Williams II - and the backup tale "Fast Life"! The newest Flash family faces a last stand in Keystone - but in this spectacular climax, we find they've been here before, once upon a time on the world that sheltered them!

We can’t say that we’re sorry to see Mark Waid leave this title. With great respect toward his previous run on the Flash, to his other work and to the journeyman’s job that he did of transitioning the return of Wally West following the disastrous post-Infinite Crisis run of “Bart Allen” as the Flash.

But the fact is that Waid never has a firm grasp of Wally West as a family man. We really like that Wally has advanced to the next level as head of his own Flash Family—there are lots of potential adventures to be told with super powered kids at his side but Waid doesn’t seem to be the one to tell those tales.

Add to that an unfathomable set of extra-terrestrial villains bent on dehydrating everyone on Planet Earth and it just makes for an unreadable story arc. Better luck next writer.

Amazing Spider-Girl #16

The Upshot From Marvel Comics: “Silent, But Deadly!” Part 1 of 1 A brand-new super-menace enters Spider-Girl’s life when she crosses paths with Deadspot—the invisible destroyer who kills with a touch!

Well we already declared our love for Miss Spidey last issue during her 10th Anniversary issue. The issue was interesting in that Spidey added a new villain to her very own Rouges Gallery in the newly introduced Deadspot—the invisible bad gal—rather than fighting her dad’s old enemies or hand-me down bad guys.

However, for us the best part was the wordless three-panel scene from a distance where May Parker informs her Peter of Baby Ben’s developing spider powers. Watching Peter deflate from shock was the best visual. Could the new dynamic duo of Spider-Girl and Spidey The Kid Wonder be too far on the horizon?


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