Sunday Reviews

Sure, there’s only three books in the picture, but it was a bumper week:

BIRTHRIGHT #36

Captured by the government, Mikey and his family learn the truth about how much the world really knows about magic and how it’s preparing for the inevitable clash between our world and that of Terrenos. And with the last page reveal, it seems that clash is coming a lot sooner than anyone thought.

Consistently one of the best looking comics I’ve ever read – and with the same team on it since day one which, these days, is kind of rare – BIRTHRIGHT takes a change of direction this issue, keeping things fresh but still in line with what’s gone before.

BLACK HAMMER ’45 #4

The mission comes to an end for the Black Hammer Squadron as enemies are confronted, civilians rescued and sacrifices made.

From one of the best looking comics to one of the worst. I think I’ve mentioned in each review of this series just how much the art of Matt Kindt doesn’t work for me. Maybe they were trying to evoke a simpler time? Maybe, but for me it just looks childish. Story-wise, then ending’s no real surprise and, maybe because of the art, it felt like something of a disappointment to me.

GREEN LANTERN #8

Green Lantern crashes at Green Arrow’s house and quickly gets involved in a case involving aliens trafficking in souls and giant extra-dimensional beings. All the while, there’s a hitman who’s been hired to wipe out the entire Earth.

This issue is clearly Grant Morrison having fun with some wacky Silver Age nonsense that nobody but him remembers, but for me it didn’t really work. Less because of the inclusion of Xeen Arrow, but more because of the relationship between Arrow and Lantern; Morrison is clearly playing in a sandbox where the 60s and 70s stories happened, Hal and Ollie are old friends who did the tour of America and became relevant for a while, and Ollie at least is easily in his 40s. And all of that jars with the current timeline. This issue felt like fan fiction where Morrison has a story to tell and to hell with anything else that’s happened between 1958 and now. I’ve enjoyed this series up till now, but this issue . . . not so much.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #25

The League fight back against the World Forger and his League led by their own Batman who, it turns out, gave Superman a way out of his prison just in time to get him back to the League in order to defeat the Forger. Striking a deal with the Forger, the League take him back to Earth where they find they’re too late – Luthor and his Legion of Doom saved the world and have made an offer to the villains of the world, giving them whatever they need to take over the world.

This issue’s big and bombastic – Superman’s return is handled really well – but it mostly feels like padding. Sure, there’s mention of the Source Wall collapsing and the Multiverse rushing towards it’s doom, but it just feels like set-up for the Underworld Unleashed Forever Evil Year of the Villain event that’s coming up in the next few months. Still, the art looks nice.

LADY MECHANIKA: SANGRE #1

After a flashback to 500 years ago in Mexico, we’re back with Lady Mechanika who has been called to Spain to help solve the case of a seemingly possessed young man, Alejandro, who’s parents have wildly different ways of dealing with the situation. His overbearing father Pedro is insistent that the church can save Alejandro, while Leonora, his mother, has called in Lady Mechanika. After speaking with the house servants, Mechanika doubts if there is even a case to solve, though her mind is changed by issue’s end.

Another good start to the latest Lady Mechanika tale; Joe Benitez seems to be easing back on the art but Brian Ching’s work is just as lovely to look at.

SHADOW ROADS #8

Kalfu and Abigail meet with the Buzzard Clan to try and find why Henry has gone missing and just where he has gone. Henry has managed to visit India, with his friend Barry following him, and manages to track down his mother.

This issue had more background, more information and so felt bigger after the last few issues which seemed to sprawl a little. As such, it was more enjoyable than those.

SHAZAM! #6

Billy and Mary set out to rescue the other members of the family, while Dr Sivana and Black Adam battle it out at the Rock of Eternity. Trying to enter one of the other realms, Billy and Mary are instead sent back home where Billy finds his birth father has returned and is on parole. Pedro and Eugene meet the wizard Shazam, and while King Kid plans a war against Earth, Mary confesses to her adoptive parents that she and the others are superheroes.

Another good issue with various pieces being put in place for the showdown that’s coming.

Sunday Reviews

A very quiet week, this week – but it’s quality, not quantity.

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #10

Dr Manhattan finally reveals when and how he’s been hanging around the DCU, first appearing way back in 1938 at the original first appearance of the Golden Age Superman. The rest of the issue, he talks both about the DCU timeline changes and, at the same time, discusses the fortunes of the actor Carver Colman who plays Nathaniel Dusk – clips from the Dusk films and Colman’s murder have been littered throughout the previous issues and this one makes it clear why. Manhattan, focusing on Superman and the changes to his origin story, realises that “outside forces” are changing things; these outside forces are (in-story) the Anti-Monitor and Extant, but there’s also plenty of meta-commentary about them being the Editors at DC. He labels the main DCU the “metaverse” and, out of curiosity, meddles with it by moving Alan Scott’s lantern out of his reach way back during the train crash that allowed him to become the first Green Lantern. This wipes out the JSA and, in turn, creates the New 52 DCU (while simultaneously ignoring FLASHPOINT and the Pandora character who was originally credited/blamed with creating it). And, as the issue ends, he realises he’s on a crash course with Superman.

Despite all the delays this series has had, despite the likelihood that it’s impact on the main DCU will be lessened by the time it finishes due to Geoff Johns no longer having the influence he had back when Rebirth was kicked off, this is a bloody good story and an excellent single issue. Both Johns and artist Gary Frank absolutely nail this one, and while I look forward to its ending, with Brian Michael Bendis and Tom King being Dan Didio’s golden boys these days, I really doubt there’ll be the massive impact at the end of DOOMSDAY CLOCK that was promised. I hope I’m wrong.

And talking of hope, it gets several mentions in this story and, with the recent ending of HEROES IN CRISIS and what that story does to Wally West who, in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH was the beacon of hope, I can’t help but think poor old Geoff Johns’ story isn’t going to make much difference in the DCU.

A WALK THROUGH HELL #10

McGregor and Shaw continue their journey through what might be hell, with McGregor revealing a secret from his teenage years which ends with an expression of hopelessness and nihilism . . . and a possible help to Shaw.

Another excellent issue with Ennis continually subverting what you expect to happen. Two more issues to go!

Sunday Reviews

ANIMOSITY #21

Jesse and Sandor continue their drug fuelled vision quests to find the answer to the question of who is behind the Wake., but Jesse ends up in trouble.

It’s a nice looking issue but the rationalist in me doesn’t really cotton to drug trips to find mystic answers – it’s all in their heads so the only answers they’re going to find is from within themselves already. But then, this is a comic about talking animals, so you know . . .

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #6

Having rescued Uncle Sam from the Nazi last issue, the Freedom Fighters try to catch their breath and continue the struggle, but they’re interrupted by the arrival of Overman, the Nazi Superman, who manages to capture Human Bomb while the others escape.

Another splendid issue where the action just keeps going – honestly, this series has barely let up. And if you thought you knew who Overman was, you may be in for a surprise.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #11

As Dr Fate and his Lords of Order track down the magic users who have fled before them, Wonder Woman and Zatanna meet up with Mordru who has been hiding under their noses the whole time. While they attempt to have him join them in their battle against Fate, he rejects them, telling them that he, as an agent of Chaos, doesn’t care about their battle. However, he does imbue the Ruby of Life with chaotic power and leaves it for them, transforming Zatanna and Wonder Woman into the new Lords (Ladies?) of Order.

It’s another cracking issue that runs along nicely, at the same time looking gorgeous.

THE TERRIFICS #16

Stuck fighting a military grade virtual reality combat simulator intent on connecting to the outside world via the internet, the Terrifics must deal with outlandish versions of the Plagues of Egypt, specifically gnats and flies. This being THE TERRIFICS, things aren’t straightforward as the gnats are robotic and the flies are merchants forcing the team to take weapons and armour so they can claim they’re thieves and attack them.

It’s mad, crazy and fun, and so far writer Gene Luen Yang is continuing the tone from Jeff Lemire’s run. Long may it continue.

Sunday Reviews

BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM #10

Lucy and Talky get the gang back together, waking up Abraham Slam, Golden Gail and Barbalien, along the way finding Colonel Weird, all because the red skies that are gathering herald the return of Anti-God. Before their next move, Lucy is whisked away to meet someone they all thought long dead: her father, the original Black Hammer.

Another fine issue the moves the Black Hammer world along nicely – the red skies were a nice touch, too!

HAWKMAN #12

It’s the final battle between Hawkman and the army of Deathbringers he used to command in ages past. And, as you might imagine, it’s sort of brutal as Hawkman wrests control of the Deathbringers who have invaded London away from Idamm while his previous incarnations prevent the destruction of the city.

Bryan Hitch goes out in fine form as this first big arc of the HAWKMAN series comes to an end. It hasn’t been brilliant, but it hasn’t been bad, either.

JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY #9

Azrael’s new power to speak of peace calms both the Tamaraneans and the followers of Rapture, making them work together, while Cyborg tries to find the first of the relics Darkseid needs to build Sepulkore and use it to prevent the destruction of the Multiverse. As the team get back together, Jessica Cruz is the only one who seems suspicious of Azrael’s new power, Starfire’s apparent willingness to follow Darkseid, and even Cyborg’s motivations.

We’re still trapped in the Ghost Sector, still trying to find some magical doodad to put together to prevent the end of it all, and slowly moving forward. Dan Abnett’s character interaction is better than the early issues, but it still seems like we’re treading water, here.

OBERON #4

Mother Mayie’s betrayal of Oberon is dealt with, and he prepares Bonnie for attendance at the Immortal Masquerade, a fairy ball that never stops. Elsewhere, Titania receives news that the mysterious Nevermen are returning. She and Oberon strike a deal to swap Bonnie for the end of Oberon’s exile, the exchange to take place at the Masquerade. Unsurprisingly, Oberon is double crossed and ends up face to face with Robin Goodfellow.

Once again, another good issue that looks and reads great. My only concern is the “To be concluded” on the last page and the fact that OBERON hasn’t been solicited beyond next month’s #5. I’m hoping the conclusion will be to the story arc and it’ll just be on a break for a couple of months.

SHADOW ROADS #7

Part of the gang track down The Mizadori in their quest to find the Hunter and who he was working with, but interrogating someone who turns out to be a sentient hotel doesn’t go well. Elsewhere, the others receive portents and messages that will send them to different places.

Honestly, it’s been the best part of three months since the last issue and it’s all a bit disjointed by now. Still, it looks good.

SHAZAM! #5

Billy and Mary are trying to escape the Funlands; Pedro and Eugene are trying to get out of the Gamelands; and Darla and Freddy are on trial in the Wildlands. Back at the Rock of Eternity, Black Adam tries to enter the seven kingdoms but is stopped by Dr Sivana. The big reveal here, though, is that this take’s version of Talky Tawny is finally revealed and he looks great!

I guess it’s the art that is causing the delays on this title, as the Eugene and Pedro pages are illustrated by Scott Kolins while the rest of the issue is by series regular Dale Eaglesham. The styles are different so it’s a little jarring but if it gets this book out sooner, I’m all for it.