Thursday, September 20, 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.

Countdown to Mystery 1
This book focuses on three of the major players in the mystic community of the DCU – the helmet of Dr. Fate, Eclipso and the Spectre. The rules of magic in the DCU have, after all, been rewritten following Infinite Crisis and the death of Nabu – something we also see this week in the pages of Countdown and Shadowpact. Though even with Nabu being dead, there must always be a Doctor Fate – and the helmet of fate finds a new Dr. Kent Nelson. This Nelson is a drunk, who has lost his wife and child and practice due to his own stupidity and depression. Nonetheless, he puts the helmet on when he finds it in the dumpster he was dumped in. The helmet fills him in on the history of the helmet, as well as reminding him of his own past – just in time for him to be attacked by a hell hound. He transforms into Dr. Fate and takes the hound out, and is then confronted by the beast’s master.

Meanwhile, the Spectre kills a serial killer – whose ghost then decides to follow the Spectre as he is drawn to another crisis. It’s a short story, all of two or so pages, but I imagine it’ll get picked up in later issues.

Finally we come to Eclipso. Jean Loring finds Plastic Man, and taunts him as they battle, eventually (probably) turning Eel O’Brian to the Dark Side. It’s an interesting little story, though I don’t really approve of Plas being so casually used. I think the character has a lot more inner strength then they let us see here. The issue ends with a flashback to Eclipso being drawn to Apokolips – where Darkseid tells us that he was the creator of the Black Diamonds. Interesting if true, and it means that Eclipso will no doubt be pulled into the ongoing murders of the New Gods.

A nice solid issue.

Captain America 30
The Winter Soldier has found the Red Skull in the body of Lushkin, and proceeds to beat the crap out of Crossbones and Syn while the Skull watches. Once the Skull finds out what he needed to know about Bucky, he uses an old Russian failsafe to shut him down – which leads to him torturing Bucky, probably in an effort to re-brainwash him.

As for the other folks who were a part of Steve’s life, we begin to see storylines come together as the Black Widow goes to find the Falcon and Agent 13 at Stark’s behest. Stark has begun to uncover Faustus’ involvement in S.H.I.E.L.D., and Natasha is there to check Sharon out. Of course, Sharon has an unexpected surprise as she finds a final “gift” left to her by Steve, which makes her perfectly receptive to another one of Faustus’ commands – one which bodes ill for the Falcon and the Black Widow.

Stark is on his way to the rescue in time for next issue, but before he leaves we get to see a final letter to Tony from Steve – one where Steve says that Captain America is bigger than he is, and that Tony shouldn’t let that die.

Personally, I’d still rather see Clint Barton take over the role, but it looks like Bucky may be wearing the mask of Captain America in a short time – provided the Skull doesn’t take him over first.

Penance: Relentless 1
I wasn’t thrilled with the last solo issue they gave Penance. I really like Robby Baldwin, and have ever since the first issue of Speedball. I felt like they didn’t quite know what to do with him following the transformation into Penance in the pages of Civil War. This issue, however, gets it.

Quite simply, Robby has lost it. He’s suffering from PTSD, and it has made him reckless, and obsessed with numbers. As one doctor observing him notes, the neurons in his brain were actually burned out by the stress, and so Robby is re-inventing himself. I have no clue what the deal with the numbers is, but I’m digging watching him throw off his handlers, and flummoxing the normally smooth Moonstone.

The big mystery of this issue, however, isn’t what the number patterns mean. It’s what Robby wants to get back from "the Leader of Latveria" – presumbaly Doom, but who can say?

Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax 1
Kyle Rayner is possessed by Parallax. This is, clearly, a bad thing. There are any number of reasons why this is bad – as a symbol, Rayner represents the idea that the Corps will survive any disaster, he’s an amazingly creative artist which Parallax can now use against the Corps, and it means that Ion has lost his host (although he has since been rescued).

This issue lets us see how this is going on inside of Kyle’s head. He’s imprisoned in his own mind, and can see what Parallax is doing through him through a window in his mother’s house. Parallax comes in to taunt him, which leads to a fight – in which Kyle reinvents himself as a Green Lantern once again.

It’s really well done, and a nice reminder of the fact that Kyle has the will to be a Lantern, despite not being selected in a conventional manner. Kyle often gets the short-stick when compared to other Lanterns, but he has

World War Hulk 4
There isn’t a single thing bad about this issue. We begin with a battle between the possessed Dr. Strange and the Hulk. It seems the good doctor has drank the essence of a demon which fills him with rage and power. Enough power to hurt the Hulk, but enough rage to nearly kill a group of innocents – the same group of innocents who the Hulk saves. This is enough of a shock to Strange that the Hulk manages to defeat him, and is able to add Strange to the group of Illuminati who are no implanted with the same control discs the Hulk and his warbound once wore. While the Hulk puts them through the same trials he was put through, we see a flashback between the Sentry and Iron Man, as Tony tries to convince Robert that he needs to be the one to take out the Hulk – something which Robert fears to do, lest he lose control and the Void takes over once more. The issue ends with the Hulk signalling that the Illuminati in the arena must kill one another, which seems to be the trigger that Robert needs to decide that the Sentry must come into action.

It’s exquisitely put together, with great writing and amazing artwork. What amazes me, however, is how effective the scenes of ordinary humans watching and cheering the gladiator match are. Even more significant are the testimonials of Tom Foster and the others who believe (possibly correctly) that the Hulk is in the right here.

I still resent Planet Hulk for it’s length and annoyingness. But with how good World War Hulk has been, I’m beginning to forgive them for it.

A few books which don’t deserve an entire write-up, but are worth picking up if you get the chance. In Green Arrow and Black Canary: Wedding Special we have a generally fun issue, with nice characterization (if occasionally painted with too broad of strokes). My only complaints would be that it was generally predictable – even the wedding being crashed by villains. The ending irritated me, however. Dinah is better than that. Birds of Prey 116 is a good read, and lots of fun as we watch the Huntress chatting with Barbara via uplink while trying to stop a group of kids who are in danger of bombing the city because of being “fans” of the Aromic Skull. It was good, but ultimately unimportant as it did nothing to further any character’s story. Good filler, but filler nonetheless.

This particular week’s issue of Countdown was ok – but nothing terribly exciting happened. Stories are progressing as they should, but no major event happened this particular week. What I did find interesting was the new ad that DC is running to tease Final Crisis. The groupings in this double-page spread include A) The Trickster, holding a flute (presumably Piper’s) speaking with DeSaad and the Penguin. B) The Kingdom Come version of Superman standing besides the Cyborg Hank Henshaw, with a man who appears to be a version of the “back from the dead” Superman (long hair, and in all-black costume. His back is to us, but he wears a black cape with a silver “S” shield. C) The Joker whispering something into Catwoman’s ear, while the Martian Manhunter stands behind them both. D) A far too-excited Mary Marvel standing between Eclipso (Jean Lorring) and Granny Goodness, and finally E) Luthor, in the silver-age purple jumpsuit, wailing on the ground with blood on his hands. Interesting teases about what the future may hold.

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Blogger Ascula said...

I love the shadowpact comics

8:31 PM  

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