Thursday, August 30, 2007

Weekly Comic Round-Up

Every week (roughly) Aaron goes to the Laughing Ogre in Columbus, Ohio and spends far more money than his wife would prefer. He then comes back here and writes about the comics he reads that he thought were noteworthy. This isn't everything he picks up, just the things that he feels merit discussion - either for being really good, or for having something really wrong with them.

Avengers: The Initiative 5
It was only a matter of time before the Initiative led to private super-teams under the control of the Government, used for Black Ops. Yes, even more so than the Thunderbolts. And sure enough, Gyrich has a team of his own, whose first mission is to rescue the stupid Initiative members who went after the Hulk in the last issue.

Who are the members of Gyrich's team? Trauma, from the pages of this comic, the Bronze Tiger, who no longer can handle working under War Machine, the Constrictor, who has been offered a full pardon and a chance to become a hero - something he apparently wanted, the Scarlet Spiders, who are three people wearing the "Iron Spider" armor Stark made for Peter Parker, and Mutant 0. Who is Mutant 0? She's off the record, the 199th of the 198. And has all sorts of rules about what she does and doesn't do during the team's missions. Honestly, I've no idea who she is. I have some theories, but nothing with any strength behind them.

The team manages the rescue, but not before Trauma gets beaten up by the Hulk. See, apparently Trauma is an Omega class threat, with his ability to transform into whatever his opponent fears. Having trained under Mirage, he has some control over his power. Mirage, of course, looks at this as an opportunity for him to help people with their fears, but Gyrich wants no part of that. So, Trauma tries to hold off the Hulk while the team escapes, transforming first into the Abomination, then Juggernaut, than David Banner, and finally into Bruce Banner. This is when the Hulk really focuses on him, and suddenly Trauma can't change form. Why? Because the Hulk says (and at the moment, I believe him) "I'm not afraid of anything." Right now, as consumed with rage and vengeance as he is, I think he's telling the truth. And that's a scary thought for the Marvel Universe.

Countdown 35
This wasn’t the best week of Countdown for me, which I really was kind of bummed about. Why? Well because Sean McKeever wrote it, and I know the guy. He was even at my comic store signing comics this week.
I think it was just an issue of it being a little too scattered, and that the characters I like most in Countdown didn’t get a lot of screen time in this issue.
In summary, Donna Troy and Jason Todd continue their trip through the Palmerverse to find Ray Palmer, and now have actually found him in the clutches of Queen Belthera, who turns him into an insectoid and makes the Monitor turn on Donna and Jason. Meanwhile, Zatanna shows Mary why she’s one of the world’s greatest sorcerers, while Mary is a very powerful novice. Mr. Action, or Jimmy Olsen to most of us, gets kicked off the JLA due to being unable to demonstrate any abilities – a consequence of them only activating if he is legitimately in danger, which he never was against the JLA. Oh, and there was something going on with Athena’s disciples all fighting, and a continuation of Karate Kid’s fight.
All in all? Kind of a “meh” issue.
World War Hulk/X-Men 3
The final issue of this mini-series has arrived, and for all that I enjoyed it, it seemed a bit pointless. We were treated to more scenes of the Hulk taking one member of the X-Men after another. Each of which was amusing in its’ own way, but none of which seemed all that important over-all. No one was too seriously injured, no damage was done to the Hulk, and Xavier remains with the X-Men instead of being dragged off by the Hulk to suffer with other Illuminati.
Why? Well because despite the fact that Xavier was willing to go with the Hulk from the beginning (because even though he wasn’t there when they decided to send the Hulk to Planet Hulk, he couldn’t honestly say he knows he’d have opposed the plan), his students aren’t willing to abandon him. Why? Because being a mutant means watching people get killed just for being different, and as mutants they’ve suffered as much as the Hulk has.
I’m not quite sure why the Hulk agrees, but he basically tells Xavier “You already live in hell, I don’t need to do anything to you.” Eh, whatever. I guess it’s just to keep the X-Men from needing to be in the climax to World War Hulk.
We also get to see the Juggernaut back to full power, and back to being a villain, maybe. Cyttorak tells him that he was weakened because he was denying what he is – an engine of destruction. He didn’t come there to fight the Hulk, he came to save Xavier, and that’s not what the Juggernaut is. But sadly, we didn’t get to see much of the fight between them, since the Hulk basically uses Akido to get rid of the Juggernaut long enough to have his confrontation with Xavier. I am glad to see them returning the Juggernaut to villain status – I’m getting tired of making all the cool villains into heroes.
Teen Titans 50
Bart Allen was killed by the Rogues over in the pages of The Flash, and now the Titans finally get around to having a funeral for the former Impulse/Kid Flash. Touching ceremony, and pretty much what I expected from it. There were two nice flashback scenes involving the different Kid Flashes – one about Bart flying the Batplan, and one involving Wally remembering Barry showing confidence in him. Nice moments both.
After the funeral, Megan (Miss Martian) makes a terrible faux pas, impersonating Bart. She was trying to do it to lighten spirits and remind people of Bart, but it was obviously taken the wrong way. Later that night, Tim and Cassie meet at the memorial which now sports two statues – one for Bart and one for Connor. There was another moment of romance between Tim and Cassie, which I am now beginning to think is her just trying desperately to not think of Connor. There moment is interrupted by the Flash running up to them to warn them that “They’re back.” Is this Flash Bart? Or is it Wally? It’s left uncertain.
As for who’s back? Well, it’s the future versions of the Titans after they’ve taken over for the JLA, seen not too long ago. Connor as Superman, Cassie as Wonder Woman, and Tim as Batman. During the course of the issue, we also get to see these future versions taking out the current members of the JLA. It will be interesting to see how this pans out next issue – I look forward to a really nasty fight.
Sadly, as good as I found the issue, it was a bit too much for one issue – even an extra-large one. And unfortunately, despite all the momentous events, the moment that I will never forget from this issue was that of Ravager leading Kid Devil to the pool so they could go skinny-dipping. She is really growing on me, though I want her to hook up with Robin and end the abomination that is Tim and Cassie.

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