Friday, September 14, 2007

Weekly comics 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. This week was slightly delayed due to family celebrations for Rosh Hasshana.

New Avengers 34
So... the big secret about which one of the New Avengers is actually a Skrull? The answer is...

No one!

Actually, I more or less expected this. I figured that it was too easy a cop-out. Besides, we all know that the Skrull is over in the Mighty Avengers. Who are about to have Deathlok fired at them by the Hood.

This of course leads to the New Avengers being heroic and going to rescue - only to discover that New York City is being attacked by swarms of symbiotes.

No. I'm not kidding. And no, I'm not thrilled about this. After all, we know how much I love the symbiotes.

What made this issue really fun though was how they proved that no one was a Skrull. Dr. Strange used a spell which showed each person as they idealized themself. Some of these were no surprise - Jessica Jones really wants to be a superhero, Luke Cage really liked the Power Man look, Logan wants to be a samurai, Stephen Strange wishes he'd never had to give up being a surgeon, and Iron Fist is happy to be Iron Fist. But there were three that struck me as very revealing, if not strange.

The first was that Echo sees herself as a female Daredevil. Daredevil got her started, and they do oddly mirror each other, so that one isn't that odd.

Slightly odder, but no great surprise, is that Clint Barton sees himself as Captain America. Now, I know that, somehow, Steve Rogers will be back. And if he isn't, than the Winter Soldier will eventually take over the role. But I think that Clint Barton is possibly the most fitting successor to Steve Rogers of them all.

The really weird one was that Peter Parker saw himself as being 15-years old - before he became Spider-Man. Seeing as how much pain being Spidey has brought into his life, I'm not shocked by this one, but it was neat seeing it on the page.

Booster Gold 2
It stunned me last month by how much I enjoyed the first issue of Booster Gold.

But surely, I thought, It can't stay this good.

I was wrong. This issue feels like all of the best parts of the comics of the late eighties/early nineties, but with a modern sensibility. In his effort to pro-actively prevent continuity warping by an unknown enemy, Booster must go back to a time before Hal Jordan got his power ring, when Sinestro has been sent to Earth (by Supernova) with the warning that someone on Earth is going to become the Greatest of all Green Lanterns, a title that belonged to Sinestro before Hal.

In a twist, this is possibly going to be Guy Gardner, who according to modern continuity was equally worthy, but Hal was closer when Abin Sur died. Booster's task is to prevent this meeting from taking place.

But we all know that Booster can't beat Sinestro. So how does he keep the meeting from happening? By appealing to Sinestro's vanity and talking about how big of a fan of Sinestro's he is. It was hillarious.

Additionally, we get a reminder that Booster isn't going to play Rip Hunter's game without being able to save Ted Kord. We also get a flashback (and one of only a very few in DC continuity) to Dan Garret. The capstone to this issue, however, was watching as Supernova prepares to hire Jonah Hex to take out Booster.

I am now looking forward to issue 3, but I am starting to believe this title is going to remain top-notch.

Thor 3
Thor was led to believe that the other Asgardians still lived, though in most cases, hidden within mortal beings. And so, Thor begins his quest to find them, which leads him to New Orleans. Where he will find Hemidal, but not before being forced to deal with the city.

A New Orleans that was devastated by a hurricane, which Thor might have been able to do something about, had he not been dead. A New Orleans that should have been saved by other heroes, but wasn't. (And herein lies the problem with letting real-world tragedies come into comics - why didn't Superman save those trapped inside the World Trade Towers? Why couldn't Storm stop Hurricane Katrina? But I digress.)

It is in this frame of mind that Thor is approached by Iron Man. The same Iron Man who could have done something to stop this tragedy. The same Iron Man who was once Thor's brother-in-arms, but who led heroes against heroes, including taking down the single mortal man Thor admired most. The same Iron Man who cloned Thor, and whose clone is responsible for the death of Bill Foster. And now this Iron Man threatens Thor with the issue involving registration.

I would like to say it was an epic fight. It wasn't. Thor wailed on Iron Man. When Iron Man mentioned that Thor seemed more powerful, Thor replied "No. The difference is that in this time and this place I am holding nothing back." After the battle, once Thor has destroyed Stark's armor, Thor gives Tony Stark this statement: "Give your orders and ultimatums to those who choose to obey, or are too cowardly to fight, not to me. Or learn again the difference between a god of thunder and a mortal man in a metal suit."

It. Was. Awesome.

Trials of Shazam 8
Speaking of the differences between mortals and gods...
Freddy's quest to become the new Captain Marvel has been a thoroughly good time, right from the start. We've gotten to see as the gods who make up the power of Shazam have hidden themselves in the modern world. The rules of magic, after all, have been re-written.

In the new Magical Atlas of the DC Universe, Atlas still holds up the world. But not by physically hoisting it on his shoulders. Instead, Atlas is plugged into a computer that monitors everything, and makes a million little adjustments every moment to how the world is going, which prevents disaster after disaster. Not the real big things, those are beyond his realm, but the million little things that could butterfly effect into the end of the world.

When Freddy arrives, however, Atlas has been killed (or at least severely injured). He takes over for a bit, but it is too much for him. Captain Marvel arrives to take over, but lets them know that he can only remain away from the Rock of Eternity for 24 hours. So they must find a new god to take Atlas' place. They end up with Apollo, who is working as a doctor. He has a job, and a life, and doesn't want to go back to being a god, but is given little choice. So, he gives Freddy his trial to earn the "A" from Shazam. They will fight, if Freddy wins, he gets Apollo's power, and Apollo will take the place of Atlas. If Freddy fails, he dies, and Apollo goes back to his life.

Good times, and brilliant artwork.

Ultimate Spider-Man 113
It's funny that Bendis is at his absolute best when we see little of Spider-Man. It's true, however, and this issue reminds of it as we see into the mind of Norman Osborn.

Osborn is, needless to say, a little pissed off. He's been denied by Nick Fury, and been stripped of everything. His money, his influence, his work and his son.

And so he escapes. Not only does he escape, but he releases the others trapped by SHIELD. Doctor Octopus picks a fight with him, but then Electro fries Doc Ock, which I found oddly satisfying.

But then we see the masterstroke of the Goblin. Norman calls on someone who owes him a favor, and is given some money and clothing befitting a man of Osborn's station. And then Osborn gets himself booked on National TV, where he tells of how SHIELD stole his work, experimented on him, and kidnapped him.

Peter Parker was thoroughly shocked, obviously, when he saw the news report.

I miss Bagley's art, but this book remains a must-read.

Black Adam 2
I don't want Black Adam to become a hero. But he is a fascinating villain. His willpower is astounding - he almost makes Hal Jordan seem wishy-washy.

Isis' resurrection is a failure. There is magic in her amulet that is missing, and so Adam must seatch elsewhere. He does so, but not before a battle with a Yeti that involves the most amazing combat-application of someone else's intestines I have ever seen.

He comes to Fate's tower, where he encounters the trapped Felix Faust. The whole time, he is trying every word he can think of in order to remember how to transform, but to no avail. Faust offers to help both with Isis' resurrection, and with a temporary transformation for Adam using the magic in her bones. Adam can transform, by saying her name, but each transformation leeches some magic from her bones, and will eventually cause them to disintegrate.

I know this will end in tragedy, but it's like a Greek play. You know how badly things must end, and you know it is due to the hubris of the main character. But it remains fascinating, and you can't look away.

If you're not reading this title, and have any interest at all in the Marvel family, then go out and get it. Now.

Two books who don't deserve an entire write-up but are worth picking up if you get the chance. In Green Lantern 23, the Sinestro Corps war continues. Some good explorations of the power of the yellow rings, and what this war will mean to the Guardians in the future. Also worth checking out is the JLA Wedding Special. The Bachelor/Bachelorette parties are meaningless, though kind of fun. But this has the formation of the new Legion of Doom, complete with their own Hall of Doom (since the JLA now has the Hall of Justice back in-continuity, it only makes sense for the villains to get one.) It also has a nice flashback to Justice League of America 1 where Clark, Diana and Bruce examine possible members, with Luthor, the Cheetah and the Joker doing the same thing in almost an exact panel-by-panel mirror.

It was a good week for comics.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you say "according to modern continuity" Guy and Hal were equally worthy. This fact actually goes back to issue #59 of the original silver age GL series, so its not as if its a retcon or anything. Issue #59 shows Guy getting the ring instead of Hal and dying of the yellow plague. This storyline just fleshes out the why Guy wasn't in California at the time, which is actually something that was never explained.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I wasn't implying it was a retcon - at least not intentionally. But DC continuity is nothing if not inconsistent, and Booster Gold is specifically about timelines and continuity being messed with.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I think Clint's inner desire to be Captain America in this issue gives really justifies why he took up the costume and shield at Tony's request and make Hawkeye's (Kate's) speech about why he was wrong to do it all the more meaningful.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Nico said...

The Thor/Iron Man fight sounds great! And exactly what I'd like to see in such a fight.

I could see Tony going back now and preparing a suit of Thor-Buster armor for a future round two.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Matt - Oh yeah, Clint's inner desire in this issue of New Avengers really puts an interesting light on his interaction with "Hawkeye" while wearing Steve's costume. I look forward to seeing more come of this - including wanting to see a meeting between the Winter Soldier and Clint.

Nico - That's a fair point. It's safe to assume that Tony wasn't expecting a fight with Thor - after all, they've been good friends for many years. "Thor-Buster" armor is a distinct possibility, though with Thor being the current Lord of Asgard, I don't know that Stark can even build something of the appropriate strength. It's not like any of the "Hulk-Buster" suits have really lived up to their name, after all.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous DJ Black Adam said...

Iron Man getting beat down by THor was actually more pleasurable than Batman getting knocked on his arse by Hal Jordan!

4:59 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Black Adam,

It really was nice. Especially since I didn't really feel like Hal had a right to deck Bruce - wheras Thor had every right to lay the smack down on Stark.

6:20 PM  
Anonymous DJ Black Adam said...


I see where you are coming from, Thor definitely had more of a reason to beat down Iron Man, but Bruce was becoming such a holier than thou jerk (not to mention how he treated Ted Kord) that I was glad somebody decked him.

6:47 PM  

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