Tuesday, March 18, 2008

FanBoyWonder’s Windy City Comics Review

FanBoyWonder Note: We wrote the following while in Chicago on business but technical difficulties kept us from securing an Internet connection—so this review lay trapped within the bowels of our work laptop until we could physically reconnect back at the office.

As we noted in our “Windy City Notes” posting, thanks to our new friends at Graham Cracker comics in the Loop of Chicago, we dropped a respectable amount of money—including picking up some of the books of the week there as well as special treat we picked up a trade paperback from Marvel Comics The Invincible Iron Man: The Many Armors of Iron Man.

Without further ado, here’s our review of the books for the week of March 12.

Suicide Squad #7

Quote Of The Week: “Don’t kid yourself. Your son was a heartless killer who planned and caused the death of innocents. I strangled him to death with my bare hands in a place from which you will never recover his bones. I’m proud of it.”Col. Rick Flag reacting to the father of Jihad leader Rustam who attacked Flag to avenge his son’s “murder.”

The Upshot from DC Comics: As the Scarlet Tears mission goes to hell and the Squad's body count rises, a final power struggle plays out between the monstrous General, the metahuman-powered Amanda Waller, and Rick Flag's own secret weapon!

Good Lord! We would say that we had forgotten just how good this book used to be back in the day but writer John Ostrander’s second act with the Suicide Squad is even better than his first time around two decades ago.

We did NOT see the confrontation between Col. Rick Flag and Rustam Sr. coming but we should have known that Ostrander would have a plan in mind when introducing Rustam the younger during the early issues of this mini-series.

It was nice surprise to see Plastique accept The General’s invite to throw in with him then do nothing, opting to stay with the Squad that brought her to the fight. What she did and the way she did it was perfectly in character for her—she would absolutely be offended that it was assumed she would fall into line with the other bad guys and betray the Squad.

Plastique has learned from her past as she said and we’re glad that Ostrander remembered and acknowledged the history of the character of these last 20 years—but Ostrander is an old school pro who is good enough to put make is own mark on a story without over-writing somebody else’s previous work.

Of course it wouldn’t be called “Suicide Squad” if someone didn’t buy the farm. Poor Windfall—R.I.P.

She at least died a hero—important for a character who straddled both sides of the line—as she tried to hold back Chemo’s deadly acid vomit belch.

As we noted a couple of issues back, Ostrander instantly made us feel for Windfall during a single page scene of dialogue with the Squad’s shrink as she explained how she tried to go straight and go to school but she ended up wanted for multiple murder when she used her powers to kill the frat boys who legally got away with drugging and gang-raping her.

That one scene gave this obscure character feeling and personality and it made us really invested in her getting through the mission alive to redeem herself. Alas, it was not to be. Damn you Mr. Ostrander and Bravo.

On the other hand, we were never so happy to see someone get shot than Cliff Carmichael, although we were slightly amused that Amanda Waller was saddened at the passing of her pet sociopath.

Cliff Carmichael was Ronnie Raymond’s high school nemesis in the pages of Firestorm when he was created by Gerry Conway. When John Ostrander took over Firestorm, Cliff went from brainy bully to full blown nut job—then he became the new Thinker in the pages of the original Squad.

He’s been in limbo in the years since the end of the first Suicide Squad series but we really could never stand the bastard but we’re just sorry King Faraday couldn’t shoot him again and again.

This issue wraps up with the Squad in their usual position—behind the eight-ball. Next issue finishes the eight-issue mini series but we hope that DC green lights a new ongoing Squad series by Ostrander with this amazing art team.

Hands down this is the smartest, best put together book in the DC Comics line up today.

Batman Confidential #14

The Upshot From DC Comics: The secret of the Wrath's return is revealed as he demonstrates just how much he knows about Bruce Wayne's life — and his parents' deaths!

Writer Tony Bedard is so far successfully walking the fine line between respecting Mike W. Barr’s classic original story from Batman Special #1 (1984) while crafting his own tale.

As it turns out, this Wrath is NOT the Dark Knight’s original “opposite number” but his apprentice who has assumed the costume and identity of his master. The reader discovers this to be the case because Wrath 2.0 is narrating the story while Batman figures it out through his opponent’s fighting ability—he younger and “frankly better” than the original.

The pacing of this four-part story is just right. We learn just enough about the “Wrath Child” to keep us interested and we know that Batman does NOT know why the original Wrath wanted Jim Gordon dead.

Readers of the Batman Special know the significance of June 26—both to Batman and to Jim Gordon but it’s fun to watch Batman get all turned around trying to figure it out and lean on his old friend Gordon.

Yet Bedard does exactly what we were afraid of when he introduced Nightwing into this sequel story last issue and we’re annoyed—Nightwing the Boy Hostage.

As Wrath 2.0 hot foots it away from Batman, Nightwing appears on the scene with a gimmicky glue gun intended to stop this uber bad guy yet he makes the cockiest, dumbest uncharacteristic mistake which serves to make Nightwing look stupid and forces Batman to abandon pursuit to rescue his former partner.

Come on Bedard! The character is smarter than that. You couldn’t figure out a way to let Wrath get away without playing Nightwing the fool????????????????

Meanwhile the art by Rags was not quite as sharp as we’ve been used to and we realize that the inks by Mark Farmer, while serviceable, are not quite up to par. Furthermore, we realize by his absence just how much Rags Morales’ regular inking partner Michael Bair brings to the table in their collaboration.

Green Lantern Corps #22

The Upshot From DC Comics: The jaw-dropping ending to "The Curse of the Alpha-Lantern"! Last issue, the Alpha-Lantern Boodikka uncovered secrets from her past that she believed long buried. Now she wishes they were, as her fight for survival continues! Will the Green Lantern of sector 1414 come to her aide? The look into the life of Alpha-Lantern Boodikka concludes in part two of "The Curse of the Alpha-Lantern"!

This story wasn’t actually as bad as we recall from reading part 1 last month. Sure it’s a fill-in story arc but we liked the focus on Green Lantern Boodikka.

We especially enjoyed how writer Sterling Gates revisits her tragic turn of events that started the day she tried and failed like so many other Green Lanterns to stop a Parallax infected Hal Jordan during the events of Emerald Twilight.

She became a “Lost Lantern” when Jordan took her power ring and her hand with it and she was believed to be dead.

As a newly commissioned Alpha Lantern, Boodikka has been dispatched to return to her Amazon home world and face her tribe sisters—one of whom has been selected as a rookie GL but has refused to answer the training call to Oa.

The space amazons want to keep the power ring and they have a long-standing grudge against B, whom they exiled when she answered the call of the Green Lantern Corps.

After a half decent battle, we learn that Alpha Lantern has the weaknesses of the Manhunters and can be taken out the same way—for a while at least.

In the end the Guardians partner Zale and Alpha Lantern Boodikka with Alpha serving as Zale’s power battery.

All in all, an amusing waste of time of a story but at least it is not a total throw away story as action that has occurred during these two issues will have lasting implications down the line.

But hurry back Peter Tomasi—we miss you. And please bring back Green Lantern Natu with you.

The Amazing Spider-Girl #18

The Upshot From Marvel Comics: “Betrayed!” Part 2 of 2 Circumstances compel Spider-Girl to join forces with the most unlikely ally of all--The Hobgoblin!

Frankly we were some what surprised and more than little relieved at how relatively simple our hero Miss Spidey got herself out of the pickle she was in at the end of last issue’s cliffhanger.

Luckily for her, the bad guys were so preoccupied with each other that they nearly forgot about the “guest of honor.”

It was also nice to see the Hobgoblin both get knocked on his mega-maniacal ass and it was nice to see him and the reader be reminded that he isn’t nearly the master criminal that he things he is—sure he’s dangerous but he’s not infallible. Especially when his ego is in play—which is just about all the time.

In true the enemy of my enemy thinking, Hobgoblin frees Spider-Girl and they fight their way out of the bad guys’ headquarters together.

One of the parts of Spider-Girl we have consistently enjoyed is seeing Peter Parker as a supporting character. When he calls May to check on her and realizes she is the middle of a fight, it’s only natural for him to consider getting out his old costume to help her.

However, he realizes that both he is past his prime and that it is the child not the parent who is now the web-slinger, the hero of the family—it’s up to her.

But we can’t help but think that he has to have a special appreciation for Mary Jane and for all she endured during his own web-swinging days.

So Miss Spidey escapes, kicks the bad girls arse, and her baby brother will hear again—AND she makes up with her boyfriend. A true happy ending—and we’re glad. Miss Spidey was due a break.

The Invincible Iron Man: The Many Armors of Iron Man (TPB)

The Upshot From Marvel Comics: Constantly revamping and improving his suits of armor through the years to meet new adversaries and environmental conditions, Tony Stark is a modern man of science and technology, yet also an Old World man of integrity and discipline. Now, journey into the past and relive comicdom’s greatest invention, Iron Man’s armors: the Space Armor, the Stealth Armor, the Deep Sea Armor and more! Collecting IRON MAN #47, #142-144, #152-153, #200 and #218.

In anticipation of this summer’s Iron Man motion picture Marvel Comics has re-issued this trade paperback to get newcomers up to speed. Good for the newbies. Better for we old farts who remember these issues lovely the first time around.

We were especially fond of the Space Armor arc of issues #142-144. It not only brought back great memories reading it as a kid but now reading it as a Grandpa FanBoyWonder we realize just how good….just how ahead of its time Iron Man under David Micheline and Bob Layton (as writer/inker/co-plotters) was.

They portrayed a sophisticated Tony Stark as a businessman, however benevolent, but a man who is used to getting is way and accustomed to the trappings of wealth and power.

In our estimate, Iron-Man as penciled by John Romita Jr. in concert with Bob Layton’s inks has never looked better than during their early 1980s run.

The reprint of Iron Man #200 featuring the debut of the Red and Silver armor by writer Denny O’Neil and artist Mark Bright was adequate and still an amusing read after all these years but it pales in comparison to the sheer creative firepower of Micheline and Layton.

For Iron Man newcomers who want a crash course on the Armored Avenger, we would recommend reading the Many Armors of Iron Man in concert with the Trade Paper Back Iron Man: Demon in the Bottle to read the very best of Iron Man.

Like (Stan the) Man said back in the day…. ‘nuff said.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Online Universities