Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pull List for 10/1/08

Batman #680 - I don't now if it is a problem with "Batman RIP" or if it is because I am also reading Morrison's Final Crisis but with each issue of this story I am starting to get annoyed by how Morrison has plotted out this, and Final Crisis, story. Still I have high hopes for this issue and if nothing else this issue should be entertaining if Morrison does actually have Batman vs Joker in this issue.

Nightwing #149 - I have been enjoying Tomasi's run on Nightwing and he has been able to bring this title back from the dead. I can't wait to see how Nightwing be able defeat Batman's rogue gallery and if that whole situation is only an illusion from the Scarecrow toxin in his system.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Captain America #42 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Steve Epting and Luke Ross
Inkers: Rick Magyar, Steve Epting and Fabio Laguna
Colorist: Frank D'Armata

Issue Rating
Story: 8.8/10
Art: 8.6/10
Overall: 8.7/10

Issue Summary
Captain America (Bucky) bust into the communication room and stops Sin and her crew assassination "attempt" on the Presidential candidates. As Senator Gordon Wright, Red Skull's secret candidate, is helped out the building Bucky makes quick work of Sin's crew as she is able to make her escape to the roof of the building. Before Sin can make her escape all the cops arrive at the building putting an even bigger wrench in her plans to get in her fathers good graces again.

Outside of Red Skull's base Natasha and Falcon are their way through AIM members with the help of some SHIELD soldiers in order to make it inside the base.

Inside of Red Skull's base Red Skull and Professor Zolo prepare an operating table and drag Sharon Carter's body onto the table after knocking her out with a stun gun. It seems that Red Skull and Lukin are finally tired of sharing the same body and with Steve Roger and Sharon's unborn baby's death Red Skull plans to use Sharon Carter as his new host body. When Sharon comes to Zolo's body transfer device is already active.

Elsewhere in the same building a capture Grand Director, who still believes himself to be the real Captain America, is shouting at the top of his lungs to let him because he is Captain America. Suddenly an explosion is set off inside the building by SHIELD.

Back at the building were the Presidential debate was broken up by Sin's assassination attempt Bucky continues to mow down Sin's crew while Sin prepares to shoot a parking lot filled with people, cops, and cars with a rocket launcher.

Shifting the scene back to Red Skull's base the Skull's transfer into Sharon's body is going according to plan when the explosion that hit the room with the Grand Director finally hits them and machine they were using is destroyed. In the aftermath of the unsuccessful body transfer Red Skull is yelling at Zolo that he cannot believe he has to continue to share a body with Lukin. Zolo tells Red Skull to follow him to activate his backup plan.

Finally reaching the roof of the building Bucky gets their in time to see Sin preparing to lauch her rocket launcher at the crowd. Bucky starts to run at Sin in order to stop her from killing all those people.

Meanwhile, in the now destroyed Red Skull's base Natasha and Falcon are finally able to track down Sharon's abandoned GPS tracker wondering were in the hell she is. Sharon on the mean time is wandering the destroyed base halls and grabs one of the knock out guards gun in order to find and shot Red Skull with.

Speaking of the devil, it seems that Zolo was successful in seperating Lukin and Red Skull with Lukin back in control of his body telling Zolo he is a genious. As Lukin praises Zolo Sharon appears and shots Lukin three times in the chest not knowing Lukin and Red Skull are not sharing a body anymore. As Lukin is dying Zolo is about to berate Sharon for what she has done Zolo is stab through his robot by the now escaped Grand Director. Sharon than faints before she can ask Grand Director a question due to all the drugs Zolo and Red Skull pumped in her body.

Back at the roof of the Presidential debate building Bucky is unable to stop Sin from shooting her rocket laucher. With no other choice, Bucky jumps in front of the rocket headed towards the crowd hoping his shield and the suit Tony gave him protects him from getting seriously hurt by the blast. The rocket explodes upon making contact with Bucky's shield and aftershock of the explosion launches Bucky into a cop car and Sin against a wall. A knocked out Sin is arrested by some SHIELD agents. As Bucky comes to he is greated by a SHIELD agent a bunch flashing cameras with people asking questioned by the crowd. Bucky starts to think back to how this is how it used to be when Bucky and Steve were partners.

Elsewhere Falcon and Natasha finally find Sharon and wake her up. As Falcon is holding Sharon, Sharon starts crying and admits to Falcon that she is the one who killed Steve. Falcoon tells her it will be alright as he continues to hug her.

In the aftermath of Red Skull's failed plans we get three epilogues that show us where the main characters of the story are. In the first epilogue Tony confirms that Sharon indeed had a miscarrage to Sam as Sharon sits in the next room. It also seems that Doctor Faustus made Sharon forget that she was even pregnant in the first place. Sam tells Tony that he will take care of Sharon while she recupperates from these events and will hold off in telling Sharon about her miscarrage until she is ready.

In the second epilogue Natasha is in Senator Wright's office telling him that if he does not drop out of the Presidential race all of his dirty secrets of working with Red Skull and Kronas and will be labeled a traitor if he doesn't drop out. With no other choice Wright agrees to drop out. Later at Bucky's apartment Bucky and Natasha are suggled infront of the TV watching Wright's official announcing his withdrawl fro the Presidential race and Bucky as Captain America's first national appearace. As Bucky turns off the TV Natasha tells Bucky to enjoy the spotlight while it last because while Steve made being Captain America look easy it will be a while before Bucky can do the same. Bucky and Natasha then start to make out as we see the Grand Director walking through New York City in a trench coat and hat wondering were he is headed.

In the finale epilogue we see what happend to the Red Skull. From the looks of things Zolo transfered Red Skulls brain into a similar robot Zolo himself is in. The issue ends with Red Skull's disbelief in his new body.

Highlights of the Issue
"Honey I'm home!"

"I'm the Goddamn Captain America!"

"You know that is going to hurt in the morning"

"First impressions are everything and Bucky definietly made a splash as the new Captain America."
"Who says the good guys don't get the girls."
"I don't think this is what Red Skull had in mind for a new body"

Review
Captain America #42 was another great issue by Brubaker and Epting that brings "closure" to the "Death of Captain America" arc that has been going on for the past year and a half. I know that many people may be upset that this did not bring an actual end to Red Skull but the way Brubaker decided to end this long story arc is a fitting way to end this great story and leaving open the eventual return of Red Skull in future stories.

Now before I start praising this issue lets me just say this that for those who are expecting a big ending that resolves all the plotlines that have been building since the first issue than you are going to be disappointed. Because while Red Skull, Zolo, and Faustus plan of destroying the USA from the inside fails all three villains are still alive in some form. Also because Bucky never actually got to fight or even come face to face with the Red Skull many people are expecting for a story of this magnetude there is no actual final resolution to Bucky getting revenge on those that were behind the death of Steve Rogers.

But again for anyone that has been reading Captain America, and to the same extent Daredevil, should trust Brubaker enough to know he has long-term plans to were he wants to take the various characters. But if you are someone that is not satisfied with getting an actual ending to every plotline than I recommend getting this story when it comes out in trade paperback form since Captain America is read much better in one sitting.

The great thing about this story has been how Brubaker has developed Bucky from being the Winter Soldier to Captain America in a way that it feels natural. Like many people I was hesitant of the idea of someone other than Steve Rogers being Captain America but Brubaker has shown that my hesitation of a new Captain America was for nothing. Brubaker has shown that Bucky as Captain America is much more interesting than Steve being Captain America and I know that some long time Marvel purest may think this is blasphemy but that is how great Bucky has been in his new role.

What makes Bucky a great Captain America is that what Natasha told him that even today he was succesful in taking down Red Skull and his crew and is now in the spotlight that times will not always be that way and he is still going to have to grow more into his role as the new Captain America. Bucky along with the reader knows this and there will be a time were Bucky will fail as Captain America and it will be interesting when his first failure happens and how he will feel he let Steve down. But right now it was nice to see that Bucky does get a victory because since he has returned he never has had a victory and it was nice that in the end he was able to spend time with his girl after all the crap he went through.

Outside of Bucky, Brubaker has also done an excellent job building up the supporting cast of this title specifically Sam and Sharon. Before Steve's death Sam has been a D- or C-list hero but not anymore and he has now gone to being a B-list with potential in being A-list if his character development continues in the pace it is going. And Sam taking care of Sharon after all the Red Skull put her through not only shows how good of a friend Sam is with Sharon but also just how much respect he has for Steve to take care of his girl.

After all the torture Sharon has been through she will need friends like Sam to pull her through. I hope that Sharon does not turn all emo for several arcs because that will get old fast. I want to see Sharon return to her Sharon Carter Agent of SHIELD persona and not someone that is a shell of herself. But with Sharon having her memory of the death of her and Steve's unborn baby being wiped out it place Sam, Tony, and Bucky in an interesting spot when the truth is revealed to her and who it will be that actually tells her. In any case I expect we will see a little emo Sharon before Brubaker returns her to her old self.

Enough of our heroes lets talk about the other side of the what made this story great: the villains. It is amazing that for the past 42 issues of Captain America their has been really only one villain behind everything and that is Red Skull. I can't rememeber if their has ever been a story this long that has used the same villain for more than 8 issues. And for Brubaker to use Red Skull as the main antagonist for 42 issues shows how great of a story teller Brubaker has been. It is only fitting that Red Skull does not die and that he will return in some form or fashion.

And even though I was expecting a big brawl between Bucky and Red Skull I actually think it is smart that Bucky first victory as Captain America is not against the Red Skull but against his daughter Sin. Because for all the skills Bucky has it seems to soon for Bucky to take down an A-list villain like Red Skull. It would make the Red Skull look a bit weak to be taken down by a "rookie" Captain America. Seeing Red Skull ending up like Zolo is a fitting end to all of Red Skull's master planning that still leaves open Red Skull to gain a new body and torture everyone close to Steve after rethinking his strategy.

I kind of feel bad that Lukin died only moments after getting rid of Red Skull from his head. Even though Lukin is an evil bastard like every villain it was to bad that we may not see what a Lukin free of the Red Skull would be like. If he would have continued to be a villain or find redemption for what Red Skull made him do. But now we will never know.

It is interesting to see that the the Grand Director is still alive after this story. Now that he knows that he is not Steve Roger's or even the real Captain America it will be interesting if he will accept that or take revenge on everyone close to the Captain America name as revenge for what he has been through. Seeing him walk through New York City makes me feel bad for the guy and I hope that in some way he does find happiness and who he actually is.

This issue brought another partner for Steve Epting to help in the art chores in Luke Ross. I didn't even realize that Ross was actually helping out Epting on the art and I thought Epting drew the whole issue. It's amazing that almost every artist that helps Epting with the art chores is able to channel their inner Epting and mirror his artwork were you do not notice Epting is getting help or not even doing the art for the issue. It has been Epting's dark and gritty art that has made Brubaker's whole story so great and mixes with Brubaker's writting style perfectly. The Bucky action scenes in this issue were some of the best action scenes I have seen this book. Great work by Epting and Ross on this issue.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pull List for 9/27/08

Captain America #42 - This is the final chapter of Brubaker's "Death of Captain America" arc and the book I am most looking foward to. Brubaker run on Captain America has been one of the greatest run's in comics and can't wait to see were he takes Bucky and crew after this story.

Daredevil #111 - Another Brubaker title I am looking foward to. It has been a while since I read Daredevil on an ongoing bases but after dropping a few titles I have decided to pick up this title up again. Hopefully Brubaker can finally achieve something that not many writers have been able to do in the past 20+ years: create a compelling new villain with longevity. And from the preview this new Lady Bullseye character looks to be a compelling villain.

Superman/Batman #52 - The last issue of Superman/Batman just a pure fun. I loved the little Justice League and can't wait to see the appearance of the little Injustice League and what mischief they get into. This should be another funny issue.

Teen Titans #63 - The last few issues of Teen Titans was very disappointing but I still have hopes McKeever can deliver a good read since I liked his last actual story arc "Terror Titans."

Ultimate Fantastic Four/X-Men Annual #1 - This part two of the F4/X-Men annual and even though the X-Men/F4 annual wasn't the greatest read this F4/X-Men annual should be a nice popcorn for the brain issue to set up Loeb's Ultimatum story.

Ultimate Spider-Man #126 - What can I say about Ultimate Spider-Man that hasn't been said before other than it should be another dependable read. And even though I have never been a big Venom/Symbiote fan Bendis has been able to make at care for them more than in the 616-Marvel symbiote.

Well after two weeks of very weak reads it looks like Marvel and DC have decided to put out some of my favorite titles in one week. Great! I also have another DVD review of Dragonball Z Season 6 in the works that should be up next. And because I have a couple of tests in my business classes the next couple of days I wont be posting a review until Friday or Saturday.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 3 DVD Review

Studio: Nickelodean
Creators:
Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko
Writers: DiMartino, Konietzko, John O'Bryan, Nick Malis, and various others
Directors: Joaquim De Santos, Lauren MacMullen, Dave Filoni, and various others
Martial Arts Choreographer: Sifu Kisu
Voice Cast: Zachary Tyler Eisen (Aang), Dante Basco (Zuko), Mae Whitman (Katara), Jack DeSaena (Sokka), Jessica Flower (Toph), Dee Bradley Baker (Appa and Momo), Greg Baldwin (Uncle Iroh), Grey DeLisle (Azula), Mark Hamill (Ozai), and various others

DVD Rating
Show: 10/10
Video:10/10
Audio: 9/10
Extras: 9/10
Overall: 9.5/10

Summary
Book 3 continues the journey the last airbender and avatar Aang on his journey to stop Fire Lord Ozai and the Firenation from taking over the world with the help of his friends Katara, Sokka, Toph, and pets Appaand Momo. After an unsuccessful Invasion during the solar eclipse Aang and his group are joined by their former enemy Zuko, who has also had his journey in the story. With Zuko's help Aang learns how to firebend in time for Sozin's Comet arrival. With all of his friends behind him to help fight the Firenation the day of Sozin's Comet comes and a still unsure Aang fights the Fire Lord Ozai, now known as Phoenix King, and Zuko faces of against his sister Azula in Agni Kai to see which one of them becomes the next Fire Lord.

Review
Book 3:Fire brings the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender and what an end it was. If their ever was a great way to end a show this is how a show ends. As much as I love this show I am glad that the people behind it decided to end it in such a high note and not drag out the story like so many cartoons and anime have done in the past and present. A lot of props have to go to creators DiMartino and Konietzko and the whole crew who work on this show for creating one of the best shows on TV and definitely the best show Nickelodean has produced. And even though this DVD set is not loaded with special features the amount of commentary by the creators that is in this DVD makes up for it.

It is hard to put Avatar in a category because it is not a cartoon but at the same time it is not a anime either. But it really doesn't matter which category this show falls under because the animation in the show is just beautiful and it is great that this show did not shy away from things like death that so many shows like avoid now. With many animated series that airs here in the US in the various networks it can be seen in the animation that the creators and directers of shows don't have much contact with the Korean animation studios. But Avatar is not like that and it could be seen in the details the show produces that everyone who work on this from the creators to the directors to the Korean animation studio put in there best effort to create the world of Avatar. Listing to the commentary for each episode and watching the special features the creators of the show do give those in the Korean studios a lot of well deserved praise for their hard work on the show.

Just to see how hard these animator's work you should all see the making of the finale with all the sketches. To hear that the fire in the last four episodes was all hand drawn is just amazing since fire is one of the hardest things to animate due to the wild nature of it. One of the highlights of this show was just how awsome the Lion Turtle that taught Aang to spiritbend was just some awsome animation. The Lion Turtle was greatly detailed and one of my favorite creatures in the Avatar World.

Some recommended episodes for Book 3 that deserve repeat watches are:

  • "Sokka's Master" - A great episode for Sokka fans and just some awesome sword choreography. And the swordsmaster Pianfao was an excellent addition to the show and who doesn't love the old master swordman's type character
  • "The Beach" - This is a nice episode since we get to see Zuko hanging out with Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee. Also this is the episode that starts the downfall to Azula since we get hints of her having some serious mother issues.
  • "The Avatar and the Firelord" - A great episode that shows the world of Avatar before the war during Rokku's time as Avatar. This episode also reveals gives a connection between Aang and Zuko that I did not expect.
  • "The Runaway" - Nice Katara and Toph episode that shows a different side to Toph.
  • "The Day of Black Sun Parts 1 & 2" - Good two part episode that set many things in motion for all the main characters to take their individual roles more seriously.
  • "Firebending Masters" - A nice history of the origins of firebending and awsome to see some dragons in this show.
  • "The Boiling Rock Parts 1 & 2" - A nice team up between Sokka and Zuko. Also it is nice the creator's did not forget about Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors after they were captured in the second half of Book 3.
  • "The Southern Raiders" - Great episode for Katara were we see more of an edge to her character and her bloodbending.
  • "The Ember Island Players" - Nice poking fun at some anime voice work and the calm before the storm.
  • "Sozin's Comet Parts 1-4" - One of the best finales to a show with some awsome Avatar State action, spiritbending, and an awsome looking Lion Turtle. We finale get the apperance of the mysterious "Order of the White Lotus" that is lead by Uncle Iroh and some of the old masters we have seen throught the show. Also the reunion between Zuko and his father figure Uncle Iroh was a very touching reunion.

The great things about Avatar has always been about the journey for the five main characters. The journey for all five characters Aang, Zuko, Katara, Sokka, and Toph had in this series was about putting the past behind them, learning from their mistakes, taking responsibility, and learning to accept themselves and others. At times you forget that these characters are just kids especially Aang who literally has the weight of the world on his shoulder. The creators are never shy to show us this fact because there are plenty of episodes were these characters just make mistakes that we all do at their age.

Now while each of these five main characters had there own moment to shine there were really three characters that really stood out in my mind after watching all of Book 3. The first one is the most surprising and that character is Sokka. Sokka started the series as nothing more than a comic relief a role that he played for most of, if not all, of Book 1 and 2. While there were small instances were Sokka was able to take the spotlight but these moments were to far from in between that when it happened they never stood out as character defining moments. But in Book 3 that all changed and we finally see Sokka become a swordsmen in "Sokka's Master" and develop his skills as a general in "Day of Black Sun Part 1 & 2," "The Boiling Rock Part 1 &2," and in the four part "Into the Inferno" finale. In each episode Sokka was able to show his worth and become much of a central character that and a key in helping to defeat the Fire Lord. And with all that he was still able to be the comedy relief and deliver some of the funnier lines in the show.

The second stand out character of Book 3 is really second star of the show Zuko. No other character in the show has gone through more changes and challenges than Zuko and in some ways Avatar is as much Zuko's story of redemption as it is of Aang saving the world. For much of Book 2 not only did fans think that Zuko would end the Book by joining Team Avatar but the creators also mention that Zuko was meant to join the good side in in the DVD commentary. It was great seen how from being the inexperienced master-level Firebender that was always angry to at the beggining of the series to the calm and cool Firebending master by the time he fought the out of her mind Azula.

In truth Zuko and Azula were opposites of one other because were Zuko started the series as a guy who was always angry, never really in control of situations, and showed his emotions on his sleeve who was more about using power than strategy, Azula started out as the calm, always in control of situations, and emotionless who was a very polished Firebender. But by the time it came to the finale showdown between brother and sister the roles were switched were Zuko due to finale accepting his destiny and joining Team Avatar was the calm and in control while Azula due to feeling betrayed out of control wack job and showed more of an unpolished Firebending. And let me just say this that the Zuko and Azula fight was probably one of the best if not the best fight on Avatar. Seeing the power and beuty of two Firebending masters was a thing of beuty and was help with some great music and sound effects.

Before I go onto the third standout character let me just say this, I know some fans are pissed off with Azula's break down at the end of the season but I actually thought it work well with how her character development from the beggining. There were already slight hints of some buried mother problems with her since the Book 2 episode "Zuko Alone" and those mother issues came to the forefront in "The Beach" were we saw her true emotions come to the surface at the end. And with the betrayal of her two supposed best friends in Mai and Ty Lee it was inevitable she would become the paronoid and out of control character she became at the end.

Now to the third, and not suprising, stand out character and the star of the show is Aang. Now I know this is an obvious choice but I just love how the creators made Aang into one of the most innocent and pure hearted character on TV. This is highlighted in how he took out the the Fire Lord/Phoniex King in their final battle. Because throughout the series all of the people around Aang even his past lives told Aang he had to kill the Fire Lord to bring peace to the world. But killing the Fire Lord would have been to out of character move for Aang to do. Plus it seems that at times fans forget that even though Aang is the Avatar, saver of the world, at his core he is still a 12 year old kid who is still sees the good in people like all 12 year olds should.

I am glad the people behind Avatar did not forget this fact and the scene were Aang spiritbends was the second best moment after the Zuko/Azula fight. Before the whole spiritbending the moment were Aang goes Avatar State on the Fire Lord's ass was another must see moments with the four elements working together like they did.

Now even though these three were stand out characters for me in Book 3 does not mean the ladies of Avatar didn't get their moments to shine. It could be argued that Katara, Toph, Azula, Mai, Ty Lee, and Suki kick just as much ass if not more during the series. Whether it was Katara learning how to Bloodbend (which was great), Toph mastering Metalbending, or Azula being a natural Firebender and being able to create lightining (something Zuko still could not do) these were all ladies that kick some series ass in the show and girls no guy would want to mess with. And it was great that it was Katara who took down Azula because it is really through her eyes that most of the story is told through.

Also even though this is technically a show about the journey for the kids to become adults does not mean the adults were no slotches. In truth we got to see through all the adults on the show how far each one of the kids still have to go to become the best at there craft.Even though Zuko and Azula both showed a lot of power with there Firebending they still don't compare to the amount of power their dad showed in the battle with Aang. And even though Sokka started to shine as a leader he still has a ways to go before he becomes a true general like his father.

Now I could go on and on about how great this show is/was but I won do that. But I will say that this is definetly a show that will go down as one of my favorite shows of all time and something I recommend for any cartoon/anime fan who loves good deep storytelling that is for all ages with some great comedy and kick ass fight sequences. And as I said earlier, a lot of credit must go to everyone who work on Avatar from the creators to the Korean animators to to the voice actors to those in the Nickolodean Stdios who allowed the creators to stay with their vision of they wanted the world of Avatar to be and not shying away from things like death like so many show do in this PC world we live in. Now every should go out and buy this show and hope that the live-action movie does a good job at properly telling the story of Aang and his friends.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Action Comics #869 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Brad Anderson

Issue Rating
Story: 8.7/10
Art: 9/10
Overall: 8.85/10

Issue Summary
Braniac's space ship continues its attack on Metropolis and starts to release pods containing Brainiac's robots to attack the citizens. At the Daily Planet Brainiac's robots attack the Daily Planet's employees and Supergirl and Lois on the roof. Even though Supergirl is shaking with her fear of Brainiac she still attacks his robots to buy Lois time to escape.

Inside of Brainiac's ship Superman is having head squeezed by Brainiac. Brainiac downloads all of Superman's memories including his fears. As Brainiac threatens the Earth Superman grabs and bits the cord in the back of Brainiac's head of and punches him into one of his pods. Superman then goes to find the Bottled City of Kandor.

When Superman finds the city an odd psychic connection happens and someone starts to talk to Superman. Superman first thinks it might be his father but it is actually Zor-El and his wife Alura the parents of Supergirl. Zor-El explains that unlike the rest of Krypton he and his wife did heed Jor-El's warning of the disaster that would destroy Krypton and used some of Brainiac's technology that was recovered by General Zod to created a force field to protect Argo City. When the force field was activated Brainiac sensed his technology being used and integrated Argo city with Kandor. But before Brainiac finished the integration process Zor-El and Alura saved Kara by placing her in a spaceship so she could escape and be with her baby cousin Kal-El.

As Zor-El finishes his story Brainiac recovers and attacks Superman again. Brainiac reveals that the body Superman has been fighting is nothing but a shell Brainiac was using to fight Superman with and that his body and mind are the ship itself.

Back at Metropolis Supergirl is becoming overwhelmed by Brainiac's robots and even with a timely save from Lois is captured by Brainiac. Brainiac then proceeds to shrink and place Metropolis and its citizens in a bottle like he did to Kandor.

A captured Superman is in a trance and being fed as much information into his by Brainiac until he becomes overloded by all the information and become brain dead. As Brainiac does this he also launches one of his Solar-Aggressor machines towards the sun to make it explode and incinerate Earth just like Krypton. The issue ends with Superman coming out of his trance and giving Brainiac a look like he is about to kick some serious ass.

Highlights of the Issue
"Superman pulls a Mike Tyson on Brainiac."

"Supergirl has turned into the new Hawkman with all the retelling of her origin."

"The Bottle City of Metropolis!"

"Who ever said 'knowledge is power' hasn't met Brainiac"

Review
Action Comics #869 was another great read. Like I have said before Geoff Johns is turning in one of the best Superman stories in a long time and setting things in motion for the next big Superman story "New Krypton." If you still have not picked up this story yet due yourself a favor and pick this story since this only part four and I am sure you can find the other three issue in stock in your comic shop.

One of the problems I have had with Superman is that he has never really had villains, outside of Lex Luthor, Apocalypse, and General Zod, that could hurt Superman physically and emotionally. To be honest for as popular as Superman is, his Rogue Gallery is not very deep and/or as rich as other superheroes like Batman, Spider-Man, or Flash. The villains Superman usually fight are either super strong, i.e. Doomsday, or use kryptonite to weaken him and then beat him up, i.e. Metallo, which leads to most Superman stories to be boring and predictable.

That is certainly not the case here with Brainiac who has been one of Superman's more underutilized villains. In this story not only is Brainiac a threat due to his super genious IQ but also because he may actually be physically stronger than Superman. Even when it looks like Superman finally has Braniac down for the count Johns reveals that the Brainiac Superman was fighting was nothing more than a organic shell Brainiac was using just to be a physical presence to Superman. I love that the Braniac turned out to be the space ship it self and not some androind or organic being.

This twist in the story really makes me wonder how in the hell Superman is going to take down in the next issue since it is the last issue of the story. Even with the look of determination in Superman's eyes I don't think he alone can take down Brainiac. To be sure Supergirl will play a part in helping to take down Brainiac but even with her help its hard to see that those two alone can beat Brainiac in Supergirl's current state of fear. But I trust Johns will have something up his sleeve and not have Brainiac go down like a punk in the next issue.

Now the other interesting development in this issue was the presence of both of Supergirl's parents being alive. I did not expect that. With Zor-El and Alura still alive it places both Supergirl and Superman in a tough spot once they release the surviving their remaining family and fellow Kryptonians. It is going to be especially hard for Superman because his alligences are going to be questioned the most of chosing Earth the planet were he was raised, shown to be a man, and all thr people he loves are or choose the Krypton the planet he was born in.

Now the only problem I had with this issue is that we were again presented another origin story of Supergirl. This was the second retelling of her origin in one week since this weeks Brave and the Bold issue also retells her origin. I get that DC wants the reader to be emotionally invested with her character but to continue retell her origin is not the way to do it, especially twice in the same week. It was this part of the issue that really keep the issue from being rated a 9 or 9.5.

But even with this slight problem I had with the issue Johns is probably the first writer to actually make me like the Supergirl character. Before this story I have thought she was just an annoying Superman lite. But here I really like that Johns has given her character depth with her constant fear of Brainiac which has prevented her from fighting at 100%. Even when she tries to put on a brave face the fear she has is always present. But that fear might change to determination when she finds out her parents are still alive.

Now praise has to go to Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, and Brad Anderson for bringing Johns story to life with the art. The art in this issue was just awsome. I especially love how Frank's draws the fear in Supergirl's eyes right before she fights Brainiac's robots. Also the scene were Brainiac is holding a shurken Metropolis bottled up like Kandor was also great spread.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Titans #5 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Julian Lopez
Inkers: Prentis Rollins, Bit, and Rodney Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado

Issue Rating
Story: 4/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 5/10

Issue Summary
Beast Boy and Raven go on a "date." Cyborg shows of his new body to Wally, Roy, and Donna. Dick and Starfire are alone at the pool and decide that they only love each other as friends and not lovers. Beast Boy and Raven are attack by Raven's three returning brothers. Raven turns into her demonic form and leaves with her brothers through a portal leaving a beat up Beast Boy behind. End of issue.

Highlights of the Issue
"Cyborg strikes a pose in his rebuilt body."

"A final kiss?"

"ADRIAN!
Sorry I couldn't resist."

Review

The one thing I'll give Winick credit for is that he never disappoints in taking characters, in this case a whole teams, that are some of my favorites in comics and turning them into one-dimensional characters and in an story that is hard to become invested in the heroes and villains. The story in Titans #5 is no different with the continuation of the Trigon sons story that wasn't very good to begin with.

One of the only reason's I actually rated this issue higher than the last issue is because Winick suprised me that he did not use the Dick and Starfire scene to put them back together and end up in bed like Winick usually likes to do. I was actually suprised that Winick could write a scene that did have some interesting development. Even though I did like the Dick and Starfire relationship back during the Wolfman/Perez era on Titans at some point these two characters need to move on from one another. It was nice to see some closure between the two and have them realize that they are just friends and not boyfriend/girlfiend anymore.

This scene was a more of important moment for Starfire as a character than for Dick because ever since her introduction Starfire has always been defined by Dick and has never been given the proper character development a character that has been around as much time as she has in the DC Universe. At least now there may be a chance that we will see Starfire start to develop from just the hot alien chick she has been into a more multi-dimesional character that she was shown to be in 52 when she was able to interact with characters outside of the Titans. Now just hopefully Winick does not mess this chance up and actually gives Starfire's character some development but I doubt that.

I was also glad to see that Cyborg finally got rebuilt after sitting on the side lines for the past four issue as nothing more than a potato. Though I thought that Winick could have shorten some of the scenes with in order to see what new tech Cyborg has integrated into his parts.

Well that is as close to giving Winick praise for his writing as I could. Now how stupid are the kids at Raven's school to not even ask about a big green polar bear in the middle of their school. I know that teenagers can act aloof sometimes, since it wasn't to long ago I was a teenager, but I have to believe that at least one student would recognize that it was Beast Boy transformed since he has been a very public figure with all of the adventures he has had with the Titans and Doom Patrol. It just an example of Winick dumbass logic that really doesn't work for anyone other than himself.

Also I get that there are a lot of fans out there for Beast Boy and Raven being together but I am just not one of them. It wasn't until the Tee Titans cartoon that DC started playing around with there relationship but I just they should have more the brother sister vibe than boyfriend/girlfriend thing they are trying to do. But I huess I may be in the minority in this I guess since there are people that enjoy this couple.

This gets to my next point, Winick is just trying to hard to show how good of friends Dick, Wally, Donna, Roy, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy are. The whole dialog between Cyborg, Donna, Wally and Roy just seemed to force and did not feel like natural dialog between these long time friends/family. And I know from interviews with Didio and Winick that they have said that they want the relationship between these characters to feel like Friends but I seriously hope they are just joking because if Winick tries to use Dick and Starfire or Beast Boy and Raven to act like Ross and Rachel "we were on a break" thing than I will blow my own brain out.

Also I could care less about Trigon's three sons and Raven reverting into her demonic form. I understand that Trigon is probably the next biggest advesery to the Titans next to Deathstroke but there was absolutly no build towards this plotline. This story could have been much better if Winick and Didio decided to slowly build on Trigon and his son's appearance as a sub-plot to the first few arcs. But by using Trigon's sons as the first villains for Titans just doesn't give any weight to the story and the villains don't feel as a big of a threat as they should if Winick and Didio actually decided to build up these villains slowly as maybe background characters pulling strings behind the scenes before they made their move. Also having Raven revert back to her demonic form is just a lame try at making Raven the villain again is not very interesting at all.

The only thing that saves this issue and actual puts it in the average range is Julian Lopez art. Now I am not to familiar with Lopez art but he had some very nice art in this issue. The art was at its best in the Dick and Starfire scene wand credit to Lopez and his inkers for giving some actual weight to a Winick scene. The only problem I had with the art is that there were some inconsitencies with some of the some of the up close shot to characters faces because I don't remeber Raven looking Asian and Beast Boy look more like a fifthteen or sixteen year old than a nineteen or twenty year old he should be. But overall Lopez and his inkers art help make Winick story much closer to being average instead of horrible to mediocre it would have been.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pull List for 9/17/08 and Marvel and DC December Solicits and News

Action Comics #869 - Brainiac has always been my favorite Superman villain after Lex Luthor. And while I do not plan on continue to pick up this title after this Brainiac story, since I would have to pick up Superman and Supergirl titles, Geoff Johns has been able to write one of the more entertaining Superman stories I have read in a long time.

Titans #5 -
This is Judd Winnick last shot at convincing me to continue to read this title. But knowing Winnick this is probably the last issue I will be reading till a new creative team replaces Winnick and his rotating art teams. It sad because I never thought I would drop a title with my favorite team in comics but again Winnick proves that no matter how many great characters a bad writer can have on a title a bad writer will continue to be bad no matter what.

Uncanny X-Men #502 -
Uncanny X-Men is another title that I am considering on dropping. I thought that after Messiah Complex all the X-titles would get on track but since Fraction has joined his Iron Fist partner Brubaker Uncanny has actually gone down in quality. But like always I am willing to give a creative team one story to continue to read a title and that is what I am giving Fraction and Brubaker.

The new solicits for both Marvel and DC have come out and it looks like some interesting things are coming for both companies in December. In the Marvel side some of there titles have been classified due to Secret Invasion. Also even though Loeb hasn't written anything in the past few years that I have been a fan of I am still excited about Ultimatum due to Mark Millar returning to the Ultimate Universe after that event. On the DC side it looks like the last chapter to Morrison's Final Crisis will not be released till January and instead Morrison will team up with Tomasi for Final Crisis: Secret Files that will reveal things about Final Crisis. Also all Bat-fans should be excited that legendary Bat-writer and -editor Dennis O'Neil will write a two-part story in Batman and Detective Comics with a Gotham without a Batman.

Recently Newsarama recently posted the Diamond August comic sales (click here). And again it looks like Secret Invasion took the top spot while Final Crisis placed second which has to have Marvel jumping for joy that they again beat out DC event. Also out of the 7 DC titles that appear on the top 25 only JLA and JSA, which sell themselves, that do not tie into Morrison's Final Crisis or Batman RIP. It doesn't look good for DC considering Marvel has 17 titles on the top 25 and only 4 of those titles tie into Marvel's big event Secret Invasion.

And for anyone reading Secret Invasion you should read the interview IGN did with Brian Bendis about Secret Invasion and what Dark Reign is about if you haven't already. For the interview click here

Anime Review: Bleach ep. 80 and Code Geass:Lelouch of the Rebellion ep. 20

Bleach 80: "Assault From a Formidable Enemy! A Tiny Final Line of Defense?!"
Summary
After Yoshino's death and Kariya releasing Bount eggs into the world Kariya and his group disappeared. Urahara and Renji decide to search for the Bounts and Ririn, Cloud, and Nova decide to teach Ichigo a lesson by dressing up as Bounts.

Review
After it seemed that Bleach finally hit its stride with this filler arc with the last four or five episodes being very well done and furthering the plot this episode wasn't a must watch episode for this arc. Bleach has always tries to add some into each episode and many times the comedy works but there have been times when the comedy does not work. This episode is an example of Bleach trying to hard with the comedy. While the beginning of the episode did have its funny moments the joke of Ririn and Cloud being stuck in those blue egg looking suits and Ichigo and Rukia chasing them got old fast. I was glad that we only had one episode of this because when the "final" battle between Ririn and Cloud vs Ichigo, Rukia, and Renji I didn't really care like I should have about what happend to Ririn and Cloud. This episode could have been much better if we were given more information about what Kariya and his group of Bounts are going to do with the eggs they released and what the Soul Society going to do about the growing problem with the Bounts.

Episode Rating - 6.2/10

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion 20: Battle for Kyushu
Summary
Suzaku, who quits his job of being Euphimia's Knight, has to deal with Japanese terorist who have invaded Kyushu on his own with the Lancelot equipped with a Float System. Even with Lancelot's ability to fly Suzaku is overwhelmed by the Japanese terrorist. When Suzaku loses all of Lancelot's energy and is about to be killed Lelouch and CC save Suzaku in the Gawain. With Lelouch's help Suzaku is able to defeat the Japanese terrorist.

Review
With this episode Code Geass has a time change to 2am here on the West Coast which is basically Adults Swim's way of condeming there shows. It is obvious that Adult Swim has now shifted to a much more comedy oriented network. This just continues Cartoon Networks continueing to lesson the anime they show on there channel with the only anime being shown on a reasonable time for fans now is Naruto and Bleach. The good thing for fans who didn't drink a case of Red Bull to stay up at 2am, or wake up at 5am ET, is that you can use your TIVO to record the episode or if your lucky you can watch it on YouTube since someone will likely uplode this episode their for as long as possible till it is taken down.

Enough of my rant about the ridiculous hour for Code Geass it's time for me talk about the actual episode. As expected Suzaku did not get repremanded for his actions and it should not be suprising to anyone. The writers and directors of this show continue to show they have a very good grasp of there characters and were they want to take them in the story. While Suzaku giving up being Euphimia's Knight being predictable it shows how guilt ridden a character Suzaku is to go back to being to the front line as a self punishment. I thought that it was interesting that Lelouch didn't actual team up with the Japanese terrorist. It just shows that Lelouch isn't a small picture guy and that he is all about the big picture and he knew that these terrorist were stupid for doing what they did. And with Lelouch helping Suzaku out it looks like Lelouch and the Black Knights will get the support they need to put up a real fight against Britannia and its army. The only thing that I thought just seemed a bit to out there was Nina's continued lesbian obsession with Euphimia. Nina continues to be the strangest character on the show since she was caught humping a table in the earlier episode. Though the interaction with Nina did help Euphimia realize her feelings for Suzaku which should lead to some interesting development when Lelouch finds out his best friend and sister are now going out.

Episode Rating - 8.3/10

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four Annual #1 Review

Creative Team
Writers: Aron E. Coleite and Joe Pokaski
Artists: Dan Panosian and Mark Brooks
Inkers: Danny Miki and Troy Hubbs
Colorists: John Rauch and Antonio Fabela

Issue Rating
Story: 6.7/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 6.35/10

Issue Summary
20 years into the future the X-Men consisting of Captain America, Wolverine, Rogue, Shadowcat, and a teenage boy Phoenix hijack a train and crash it into a building.

In the present Sue is giving Reed a hard time because he forgot about their date. Reed gives Sue some flowers telling her he hasn't forgot about their date and he was about to go get changed. But before he can do anything a train crashes through the Baxter Building. Evidently this is the same train that the future X-Men hijack earlier.

The future X-Men step out of the train and introduce themselves to the Fantastic Four as being here to help. But as Captain America and Reed shake hands Captain America throws Reed at Wolverine who stabs Reed with his claws. A fight breaks out between both teams that leads to the future X-Men kidnapping Reed.

Outside the Xavier Institute Rogue apologizes to Logan for taking the drug Banshee. Apparently Rogue still has Logan's powers and Logan tells Rogue to enjoy his powers but he will not improve of her previous use of the Banshee. After a short argument Jean calls all the X-Men to the mansion and Logan heads back alone.

At the mansion the X-Men and Fantastic Four have a discussion about the future X-Men that attack the F4. Sue says that she wants the X-Men to help fight this future X-Men since their future selves would not hurt there present. Logan gets into an argument with Sue of why he should help but Jean puts Logan in a time out psychically. Jean tells Sue that they will help them get Reed back.

Elsewhere in an unknown location the future X-Men are torturing Reed. Captain America and Wolverine leave Phoenix to continue torturing Reed. Reed tells Phoenix he knows that Phoenix is Franklin his son. Phoenix tells Reed he is lying. Suddenly Phoenix is stabbed by someone with claws. Captain America, Rogue, and Shadowcat hear some screams and head towards were Phoenix and Reed were. When they enter the Wolverine appears from the shadows reaveling he is an Phoenix's attacker and that he is not alone. Hundreds of Wolverine Sentinels attack the future X-Men.

In the X-Jet the two teams head towards the future X-Men location and once they get there they find Captain America and Rogue lying on the ground dying. Jean goes toward Captain America's body and reveals that this Captain America is not Steve Rogers but a depowered Scott Summers. Scott tells Jean that he, Jean, and the original Captain America tried to stop something or someone but had there powers taken away. In the end they killed Steve by quickly aging him and tortured and killed Jean which is the reason he took up the Captain America mantle.

Jean ask who is it that killed them, Shadowcat and Phoenix than appear and show the head of Wolverine telling them that it was Wolverine who betrayed them. Logan does not believe it was him being the traitor and the Wolverine head says that he did it because he loved Rogue. He also says that they(?) used him (Wolverine) as a model for the perfect Sentinel killing machines. Scott then dies in Jeans arms.

Sue ask the Wolverine head were Reed is and Phoenix says that the Wolverine Sentinels took Reed into 20 years into the future. Sue ask why she should trust them because they did they tried to kill Reed. Shadowcat, holding up Cap's shield infront of Sue, Logan, and Sue, tells them they have no idea why they did it and what the future holds.

Back to 20 years into the future Iceman is being attacked by a couple of the Wolverine Sentinels. Even though Iceman does his best to fight of the Wolverine Sentinels but is captured and taken into a prison cell located inside the Baxter Building.

In the Baxter Building Reed tries to get answers about were he is and see someone flying through the with their body on fire and thinks it is Johnny. The issue ends with Reed entering the room were that person flew into only to see a different version of the Fantastic Four comprised of Firestar, Invisable Woman, Namor, and what looks to be Iron Man. To be contnuein the Ultimate Fantastic Four/X-Men Annual #1

Highlights of the Issue
"Meet the future X-Men"

"Spider-Man, Spider-Man does whatever a Spider......Wait a minute Shadowcat using webshotters?"

"This solves the mystery of how Wolverine can appear everywhere in the Marvel Universe at once."

"Move over Steve Rodgers and Bucky Barnes, Scott Summers is the new Captain America. At least for one issue"

"Meet the new Fantastic Four"

Review
Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four Annual #1 was a very average issue with its doomed future story by Heroes writers Aron Coleite and Joe Pokaski. This is actually an enjoyable annual for those who like a very fast paced story and those who have been exclusively reading the Ultimate Universe. The problem with this issue is that not only is this a lead up to Jeff Loebs Ultimatum mini-series but also that this is a two-part annual with the second part going to be continued in a not so cleverly titled Ultimate Fantastic Four/X-Men Annual #1 that comes out in two weeks. When I pick up an annual I expect it to be a one-shot story that may or may not lead to some future story in the main book and I do not think I should pick up two annuals to read the whole story.

Now while I found this issue to be an average read there were still things that I enjoyed about this issue that will make me pick up part two of this issue. I actually thought this future group of X-Men was an interesting especially with Captain America as part of the team. When I first saw Captain America I actually thought it was Peter Parker for some reason. But still, I was suprised that out of all the characters that Scott Summers became Captain America. This is actually the first time Scott actually took the mantle of Captain America in any future timeline at least that I have read.

I also thought that both Schadowcat and Rogue's "new" appearance looked interesting, especially Rogue's. It was nice to see that at least in this future Peter and Kitty's relationship was not ignored and since Kitty has her own web shotters that probably means that Peter is dead or the very least captured in the future this team of X-Men came from. Also future Kitty's learning to make her molecules super-light or super-dense was kinda of an interesting evolution of her powers that Coleite and Pokaski gave her. Seeing this evolution of her powers could actually make Ultimate Kitty stronger than her 616 counterpart if Bendis or another writer have her powers develop in Ultimate Spider-Man or Ultimate X-Men

With Rogue her future self was actually intersting since it looks like she has permantly absorbed both Wolverine claw and Angel's wings. Her power evolution and her relationship is most likely a foreshadowing of what present Rogue and Wolverine were talking about. I haven't read Ultimate X-Men since Bendis run on it but I am wondering what that Banshee drug Rogue was talking to Logan was and if that is what had her have Wolverine's claws in the present.

The mystery of who Scott was talking about should be a interesting reveal of who killed so many of the Ultimate Universe heroes since I can't believe that Wolverine and that future version of the Fantastic Four were the ones that did it alone. My guess would be that Xavier, Appocalypse, or Magneto were the cause of this future timeline to look the way it does. And seeing that Wolverine was replicated and turned into mutant hunting Sentinels was an idea I actually liked since the Sentinels have not played a big part in the Ultimate Universe. So there inclusion in the story was nice to see even if they looked like Wolverine.

Even with those interesting developments this was definetly for those who have been reading all the Ultimate titles, specifically Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. The only Ultimate Universe book that I have been reading has been Ultimate Spider-Man so some of the information in this book I did not get. This book felt like the average team-up between groups that have been done a hundred times and there really isn't anything new with the interaction between the two teams that felt very compelling.

I have no idea what kind of drug Banshee was since I do not remember reading about it when I use to read Ultimate X-Men so that was a bit confusing and Coleite and Pokaski could have said what that drug was. I don't know if Banshee is the Ultimate Universe version of KICK or MHG?

Also where in the hell is present Scott Summers and Storm because we saw that he has a future slef that takes the mantle of Captain America. It doesn't make sense that Scott or Storm aren't at the X-Mansion or with the group that went to find Reed. Little details of were Scott and Storm are even if he is taking a vacation Hawaii would have been good. I think it would have made that scene were future Scott was dying to be more impactful if his present self was there to. But to leave out one of the bigger X-Men in a story were all the other main X-Men appear

I was disappointed that Liz and Johnny didn't interact more especially now that they have the same powers. Since both these two characters have already a nice history with one another that developed in Ultimate Spider-Man instead of having Ben hitting on Liz.

This whole two-part story is definetly also for those readers that have not read many stories about a diselent future Marvel Universe. And this future Ultimate Universe actually looked pretty peaceful since there was only the scene were the future X-Men hijack the train and the last couple scene. Coleiti and Plokaski could have done a better job by showing more of this possible future to give the readers more to care about for the next part. There isn't even enough detail given in the dialog about the possible future to give reason to know what these two teams will be fighting in the next annual in two weeks.

Now the art for this issue was not bad but having two or more artist on an issue almost never works. Case in point this issue with both Panosian and Brooks do not really have similar styles were there art easily transitions into one another. I especially did not like the first couple pages in the Baxter Building were the characters, especially Sue, were a bit to cartoony. This story would have been better of if each artist drew one annual since this is a two parter.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Anime Reviews: Bleach ep. 79 and Code Geass:Lelouch of the Rebellion ep. 19

Bleach 79: "Yoshino's Decision of Death"
Continuing the the filler Bount arc this was probably one of the best episodes of this filler arc. It is surprising that we get another fight just shortly after the fight Ichigo had with Udagawa, Ichinose, and Kariya at the mansion. I think this is the first time Bleach actually has more than one fight in the same episode taking place in the same location. Now while there were three battles going on at Kariya's destroyed mansion the main fight was definetly Yoshino vs. Kariya. Now while the fight did not last as long as I would have liked the animation for the fight was definetly great. And we did get to find out that the reason Kariya is stronger than the rest of the Bounts is because he has fused with his Doll. I was a bit sad that Yoshino has been killed of but her death seems to have lead for a much greater threat for Ichigo and the Soul Society.

Episode Rating: 8/10

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion 19: "Island of the Gods"
Now while this episode did not contain any action it did help flesh out four of the major characters in Code Geass. Now while this episode used the the overused story in anime of four characters from stuck on an island with each character paired up with a person from the opposite side (Lelouch/Euphemia and Suzaku/Kallen) the character work in this episode made it so it is not as annoying as it could had been. This episode did serve up some fanservice with Kallen cleaning up at the waterfall. While I enjoyed all four characters I actually enjoyed the pair of Lelouch and Euphemia. I thought that it was nice to see these two long lost siblings spending some nice quiet time together. It was funny seeing Euphy picking on Lelouch attempt to get some food. Also it is going to be interesting to see what the reprecussions of Lelouch giving Suzaku the "Live on" command with his geass. While I do not expect anything to severe to happen to Suzaku since he is one of the major characters in the series it will be interesting to see what actually happens to Suzaku next episode and if Lelouch/Zero will try and save him again.

Episode Rating: 8.7/10

Pull List for 9/10/08 and Some Comic News

Ultimate Origins #4 - I really liked the last issue of Ultimate Origins and the updating of some long time Marvel characters. And from the looks of the solicits the connections between a lot of the characters in the Ultimate Marvel Universe is going to start to come together. So it will be interesting to see what Bendis has up his sleeve for this issue.

Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four Annual #1 - Even though I have not read Ultimate X-Men and Fantastic Four for a while the rumor that these are going to be the two titles being cancelled after Ultimatum should make this annual an interesting read. Along with Ultimate Origins this annual is said to be connected to Loeb's Ultimatum mini-series should definetly peak the interest of fans in the Ultimate Universe.

Speaking of the Ultimate Universe Newsarama put up an interview with Mark Millar talking about Millar's return to the Ultimate Universe in a new series. The new series will be called "Ultimate Avengers" and will have four six part stories with a different A-list artist drawing one of the four storylines. If you are interested in reading the interview click here.

Marvel made an announcement here in there Las Vegas convention about what those mysterious images that have been showing up in the Comic-cons this summer. Evedently the images are promotional images for a new Marvel Universe called Marvel Noir. This new universe is suppose to contain the same characters from the regular Marvel Universe and place them in new (or old) roles in a completly different universe. IGN has an interview with David Hine, writer for "Spider-Man Noir," and Fabrice Sapolsky, who are the architechs of this new universe. Click here for the interview. Comic Book Resources also has an interview with creative team of "X-Men Noir"
Fred Van Lente and Dennis Calero (click here).

Marvel also made another announcement about a future story titled "Dark Reign." Currently it is not known if this is connected to the recently announced "War of Kings" or another separate event in the Marvel Universe. Though I doubt this is Marvel's next big event since Marvel has come out and said that 2009 will be a quiet year in terms of a big Summer Event to build up the next big cross-over for the company. For some details on "Dark Reign" click here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Green Lantern #34 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Oclair Albert and Ivan Reis
Colorist: Randy Mayor

Issue Rating
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Issue Summary
Near the grave of Martin and Jessica Jordan, the parents of Hal Jordan, Hal and Sinestro are fighting Atrocitus without the use of there power rings as William Hand (the future Green Lantern villain known as Black Hand) looks on. Atrocitus continues to blast Hal and Sinestro with their on Green Lantern energy he absorbed into his device. Hal and Sinestro are able to get out of the line of fire long enough for Sinestro to summon his Green Lantern power battery to recharge both his and Hal's powers.

As Hal and Sinestro recharge their powers Atrocitus starts to chase after William to kill and take the power death William has in him. Before Atrocitus is able to get a hold on William he is attacked by the repowered Hal and Sinestro. Even with their powers back Atrocitus still dominates the fight and smashes Sinestro with a yellow trackter. Hal then uses his all his rage and uses it to construct a massive jet to destroy the yellow trackter Atrocitus was holding above his head. Sinestro takes this oppurtunity to place the finishing blow to Atrocitus with a huge Killowag contrut with his ring.

Hal goes to check on William but William just runs away with the device Atrocitus was using. Sinestro than tells Hal he is just a rookie and that he cannot pierce the spectrum barrier. Hal has enough of Sinestro's lecture and has his ring take him to Carl Ferris.

Hal arrives at Carl's house and knocks on the door letting himself in when Carol opens the door. Hal starts to look through the whole house for Carl only to find that Carl is in his sick bead. Carol tells Hal that since Hal's dad accident Carl felt so guilty for causing his best friends death that it affected his health to the point he is now. Carol also tells Hal that it has been her running Ferris Air this whole time while saying that she is just acting as a mediator for Carl so that people don't think he is sick. Hal apologizes to Carol and tells Carol that she is not alone. Hal and Carol then kiss on the porch.

Later in the middle of the desert Hal uses his power ring to make an image of his father when he was a pilot. Sinestro than interupts Hal's quiet moment and gives him another lecture. Sinestro than tells Hal he is still a rookie and has a lot to learn about being a Green Lantern. As Hal and Sinestro shake hands they get a message from their power rings telling them they have broken the rules of time alloted for officers to interact and must return to Oa to be discipline. End of issue.

Highlights of the Issue
"I have the power"

"Sinestro lays the smacketh down on Atrocitus ass with a Killowag construct"

"This isn't what Hal expected to see or do"

"It looks like Hal and Sinestro have to go to the principles office"

Review
Green Lantern #34 continues the story of "Secret Origins" and while the past five issues were nothing but average retelling the same story most Green Lantern and Hal Jordan fans know this was the first issue that was not only entertaining but this issue actually added to a character's origin.

I will talk about that in a bit but I know that there are some fans that are pissed of whole "Secret Origin " story but I think it is necessary for Johns to try to get new readers up to speed with Hal Jordan's history. This story is meant to be new reader freindly and for those people that just got into Green Lantern during "The Sinestro Corp Wars." That is the important thing about this story because there were a lot of fans that got into Green Lantern because of "The Sinestro Corp Wars" and Johns knows that and has given the oppurtunity for those new readers to catch of with the origin of Hal Jordan without having to buy the back issues telling this origin.

Now while this is a new reader friendly story there is still plenty to entertain new readers once you get past this story being a retelling of a known origin to long time fans. But for long time Green Lantern fans they should notice the tweaking Johns did to the origins of William Hand (aka Black Hand) and furthering the future Red Lantern Atrocitus role. Both characters are suppose to play a large role in the upcoming "Blackest Night" storyline next year so it is good to see that Johns is using this origins story to futher develop major players for future stories.

As I said before Johns did some tweaking to William Hand's origin who became the Green Lantern villain Black Hand. The tweaking Johns did is to make the energy absorbing device Black Hand has used against while fighting the Green Lantern actually be a device Black Hand stole from Atricitus instead of him constructing the device himself. This adds more of a connection between Black Hand and the Green and Red Lanterns. Also with Black Hand's appearance in DC Universe #0 in front of the Black Lantern power battery the addition of Atrocitus talking about Black Hand connection to death adds to the reason he will probably end up being the leader if the Black Lanterns.

On Atrocitus origin this help build up Atrocitus as a Green Lantern villain and a member to the Red Lanterns. Throughout this story the reader can see why Atrocitus is chosen to be a Red Lantern with all the rage he showed in his battle with Hal and Sinestro. Also as seen in this issue Atrocitus was enough of a threat without a power ring to take on and dominate the fight with Sinestro and Hal. This helps not only build the threat of Atrocitus but also the Red Lanterns who currently only have three members in their group. And considering the storyline that follows "Secret Origin" is "Rage of the Red Lanterns" we will probably see more of Atrocitus soon enough.

Again the strength of this story has been with Hal and various future allies and enemies. In this issue we see the start of Hal's friendship with Sinestro that is doomed to fail and his growing closer to Carrol Ferris. The most interesting relationship is the Hal and Sinestro because of the inevitable down fall of these two mortal enemies. I really like how Hal Jordan acted like a complete rookie with a lot of anger while still showing the potential that leads him to become the leader and one of the greatest Green Lanterns in history. And while it looks like Hal and Sinestro are going to be punished I only expect the Guardians to have Sinestro become Hal's teacher and partner to teach him to be a Green Lantern since it is only some time after Sinestro become's Hal's teacher that Sinestro becomes evil.

Now even though I thought this was an aboce average issue it is sill the case that is just a retelling of Hal Jordan's origin that I already knew. And because of this being a retelling of an origin many long time fans will see a lot of predictability to the story which I can understand that it would be a turn of to them.

Also because of this being a retelling of Hal's origin I think I would recommend new readers to wait for this story to come out on trade paperback form since this story will probably read much better when it is collected in TPB form.

Ivan Reis served up plenty of great artwork and did a great job on the the Atrocitus vs Hal and Sinestro fight. My favorite part of the fight was when Sinestro used his power ring to construct an image of Killowag to put the finishing blow to Atrocitus. I thought it was both awsome and funny at the same time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Nightwing #148 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Rags Morales
Inkers: Michael Bair and Bob Petrecca
Colorist: Hi-Fi

Issue Rating
Story: 8/10
Art: 8.5/10
Overall: 8.25/10

Issue Development
Continuing from last issue Nightwing, who has been shot in the shoulder and ribs, tries to muster all his strength to get him and Carol out of the snipers range. Nightwing is able to grab on to his winged-jet pack and is able to get himself and Carol out of the snipers sight. Nightwing takes Carol to one of the many safe house Batman has around Gotham to keep her safe while he goes to the Batcave to get some medical help from Alfred.

A semi-conscious and bloodied Dick is able to reach the Batcave with his badly damaged winged-jet pack exploding right when he reaches the Batcave and Alfred puts him on a medical table. Dick, who decides to be conscious during the surgery, and Alfred have some nice little banter back and for while Alfred works on getting the bullets out of Dick's shoulder and ribs. During their conversation we find out Bruce is still missing (read Batman RIP for details) and that they are both worried about Bruce.

After getting the bullets out Dick takes a quick nap to recover from his injuries. While Dick takes his nap Alfred cleans up and starts to show signs of worry over this whole situation in a nice quiet moment. After cleaning up Alfred grabs a chair and sits down next to Dick and also falls a sleep.

A little bit later Alfred wakes up to finds a note saying "Thank Alfred" and sees Dick back in a new Nightwing outfit riding out of the Batcave in one of Robin's motorcycles.

Nightwing goes to check on Carol at the safe house to make sure she is alright. After proving he is Nightwing Carol gets a phone call from Harvey. Carol ask Harvey why he sent Nightwing to protect her and Harvey just says becasue he still loves her. After a bit more talking Nightwing interupts the conversation. Harvey ask Nightwing how his stay was at Arkham Asylum (again read Batman RIP for details) and Nightwing just says that Harvey is going to go back to Arkham soon enough.

Nightwing hangs up on Harvey and tells Carol to stay at the safe house a little while longer while he goes to patrol the city for his shooter. As Nightwing is flying through the city in a new winged-jet pack Alfred tells Nightwing that the bullet he was shot with was laced with Scarecrow's Fear Agent and that he needs to come back to the Batcave to get an antidote.

But before Nightwing can make a u-turn back to the Batcave the alarm at the safe house Carol is staying at goes of. Nightwing flies in through the window of the safe house only to find that he is surrounded by all of Batman's rogue gallery. End of issue.

Highlights of the Issue
"There's a reason doctor's put patients to sleep during operations"

"A nice quiet touching moment"

"I don't think this is the type of party Nightwing was looking for"

Review
Nightwing #148 was another great issue by Peter Tomasi. Even though this is only Tomasi's second story arc on Nightwing it is quickly looking like Tomasi may go down as the definitive Nightwing writer, at least in my eyes. While some people might have been upset that this is more of a Nightwing story than a Dick Grayson/Nightwing story but this issue is sure to please Dick Grayson and Nightwing fans.

The only real gripe I had with this issue is the obligatory Batman RIP dialogue. It really is not the fault of Tomasi or Morrison since DC is just trying to shove neccessary tie-ins to Detective, Nightwing, and Robin comics. I know that with the dialog between Dick and Alfred of Bruce beeing MIA and Harvey mentioning Nightwing's time in Arkham Asylum and Black Glove will have many fans trying to figure out were this story fits in with Morrison's Batman RIP. But for anyone that has read any of Morrison's work should know that there is no writer other than Morrison that can actually write tie-ins to his story other than him and probably Geoff Johns and Greg Rucka. It is not saying that Morrison's writing is bad but just that Morrison's writing style is so unique, some say crazy, that when other writers try and tie-in to his story it usually leads to trouble with the story they are trying to tell.

So for anyone that is picking up this and the last issue of Nightwing I suggest you just ignore the bits of dialog that tie-in to Batman RIP and not worry were this fits in with Batman RIP. If you do this than you will enjoy this much more.

What made Nightwing #148, and Tomasi's run on this title, so great is the interaction between Dick and his supporting cast, in this case with Alfred. I know that since becoming Nightwing most writers like to have Dick be as far away as possible from Batman and most of the Bat-family but I just think that is a mistake by writers. The best interactions in this title have always involved Dick and someone in the Bat-family. And Tomasi has realized this by having as many scenes as possible with Dick and someone in the Bat-family and how close of a family they are.

In the last story arc I liked that Tomasi had Dick and Tim interacting with one another since there have been few instances those two characters, who already acted like brothers before they were both adopted by Bruce. And in this issue I loved the banter between Dick and Alfred while Alfred was trying to get the bullet out of Dick. I love how Alfred can't believe how Dick like Bruce wants to be conscious during surgery and Alfred's comment about Dick and Bruce attracting bullets.

Alfred has always been the father figure of the Bat-family and I loved the quiet three page scene of Alfred cleaning up after taking out the bullets from Dick's body. It shows just how much Alfred not only cares and worries about Dick, Bruce, Tim, and Barbara but that the life they have chosen has taken it's toll on Alfred both mentally and physically. It was such a great scene and I have to give credit to Tomasi for allowing Morales art covey what Alfred was thinking without any though bubbles or captions.

I also love how Tomasi writes Nightwing as a guy with a lot of will power that he is willing to risk his life to save the life of Carol and make sure she is safe before taking care of his gun shot wounds. Again Nightwing shows that he is not only a confident hero but also very competent at what he does living up to DC's quote of Nightwing skills being only second to Batman.

I especially love the dialog between Nightwing and Harvey because it just shows that these two advesary's have a lot of history with fighting one another. The reader, along with Nightwing, has to wonder what Harvey really has in mind since anywhere Harvey is his Two-Face persona is never to far behind. And I kind of wonder that if the last scene with all of Batman's rogue gallery actually real or is it Nightwing being affected by Scarecrow's fear toxin from the bullet. Whatever it is that was a great cliffhanger to end the issue on.

With this issue Rag Morales again takes over the art duties, but for how long is beyond me. But what I have gotten from interviews with Tomasi, Morales, and Kramer is that the artist team will be rotating between Morales and Kramer. That aside the art in this issue was very well done and like I said before my favorite scene in this issue was the three pages of Alfred cleaning up after taking the bullets out of Dick. I just love it whenever an artist is allowed by the writer convey the emotions and what the character is thinking with the art alone and no dialog. That Alfred scene was probably one of my favorite scenes of the year.