Sunday Reviews

BLACK HAMMER ’45 #1

The Black Hammer Squadron was one of the fiercest group of fighters in World War II, a group of daring-doers who took on the biggest missions and overcame the enemy time and again until the fateful day when they have to go up against the Ghost Hunter, the dreaded ace from Germany. Tasked with saving a scientist and his family from a Nazi camp in Vienna and returning them to the States, the Squadron must contend with both the Ghost Hunter and the Russian’s Red Tide – huge, mechanical war robots, who have the same mission, only they plan to have the scientist work for Russia.

Jeff Lemire expands his Black Hammer universe again, this time with a take on the Blackhawks, setting up this mini-series nicely. My only complaint would be Matt Kindt’s art – never really been a fan of his style.

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #9

Following Firestorm’s detonation at the end of the last issue, the heroes trace the energy that caused the explosion to Mars and Dr Manhattan, believing him to be responsible. Manhattan’s vision of a final battle with Superman that is yet to come is enough to trigger the heroes into attacking him but he dispatches them all, seemingly killing them, but not before revealing to Firestorm that Professor Martin Stein is not only in league with the shadowy agency behind the creation of government sanctioned heroes, but that Stein deliberately created Firestorm in order to infiltrate the heroes at large.

There’s a lot going on in this issue aside from the summary above, with Batman, Lois Lane, and Wonder Woman all dealing with their own problems. There are nods back to the original WATCHMEN series as well, alongside a mostly silent four page spread of the heroes heading to Mars that works really well. The story is ramping up now, and the art by Gary Frank is simply gorgeous. Despite all of fandom’s misgivings about this story when it was first announced, I’m really enjoying it.

THE GREEN LANTERN #5

In order to prove his desire to join the Blackstars is sincere, Hal Jordan is taking to Belzebeth’s homeworld of Vorr, a planet of vampires, where he must run a gauntlet to find his Blackstar uniform and confirm he is worthy to join them.  Not surprisingly, he passes the test only to face a final one where he must kill the Blackstar’s prisoner – Adam Strange.

I’ve been enjoying Grant Morrison’s run on this title so far, but this was probably the weakest issue. There was never any real doubt that Jordan would a) complete the trial, and b) in a flashback be revealed to still be working undercover for the Guardians. Do we think he’s going to kill Adam Strange next issue? I very much doubt it. Morrison scatters some vaguely cool sounding phrases – “necro-sun“, “blood bells“, “deadnoon” – but they sound more like 90’s image anti-heroes than anything else. I’m hoping next issue picks up with some surprises. (Oh, and don’t think I missed the mention of the Over-Master, either.)

JUSTICE LEAGUE #19

The League recruit Mr Mxyzptlk to help them find their way to the Fifth Dimension where, they hope, they’ll find the key to fixing the Multiverse that is on the brink of collapse following the breach in the Source Wall. Mxy reveals, though, that they need to go to the Sixth Dimension, the home realm of the Monitor, Anti-Monitor, World Forger and their mother Perpetua – that’s where they’ll find what the need to stop Perpetua. A handy portal takes Superman to the Sixth Dimension, and he returns moments later a decade older saying he’s found what they need. Most of the League follow him and appear in a different realm where future versions of themselves live happily. Unknown to them, the real Superman has been trapped in a different place.

Once again, big ideas abound in this title but the execution is better than previous issues, as though Scott Snyder has finally wrestled the story into a direction he wants it to go.

OBERON #2

Bonnie wakes in the house of Oberon and is taken by him to Mother Mayie who, in turn, takes her to the Endless Labyrinth where her magical potential – if she has any – will be determined. While Bonnie is being tested, Oberon discovers that Titania knows he has the girl.

Another good issue, with Oberon’s narration adding a wonderful counterpoint to his actions on the page, and though the story seems a little thin this issue, there’s no doubt that it’s setting things in place for further down the line.

A WALK THROUGH HELL #8

Carnahan, the child killer thought dead in the real world, is happy to spill the beans about his early days and how he came to take the path he did before a revelation of who else is involved comes to light.

I’ve read and watched a lot of horror books and films over the years but this story keeps surprising me – just when you think you know where it’s going, something else happens instead. This really is worth picking up.

Mash-Up #50

Twice a week I randomly generate two dates and then compare the titles I own from both of them, trying to find some covers that, with a little basic photoshopping, I can mash together, and then I force the results on you lovely people.

By the way, I admit to being HUGELY influenced by the wonderful Super-Team Family blog which has been doing this for years (and a lot better) on an almost daily basis.

This is what all the Monday Crises over the past few weeks have been building to – a throw down between the various versions of the Anti-Monitor: Sinestro Corps guardian, original, and Darkseid War version.

And a battle this big needed a double sized issue!

Who Is Watching The New DCU?

RebirthSo this occurred to me at about 5:30 this morning . . . no really, I woke up with this in my head.

DC’s recent Rebirth one shot has garnered a lot of positive talk: the story’s good, it sets up a lot of future story lines, reintroduces a sense of hope to the previously tired and grim New 52 and – most surprisingly – introduced the Watchmen universe into the main DCU . . . or at least sowed the seeds of it.

Much has been made of the identity of the person who played with the DCU’s timeline and stole 10 years from it; the same person who seems to have infused that sense of dark, grim, hopelessness that’s been prevalent in DC comics for many years – since before the New 52 if we’re honest. It seems almost a given that the culprit is Dr Manhattan from Watchmen and, given his detachment from humanity, it’s likely that his meddling was done from a sense of curiosity rather than outright malice. However, one or two years down the line, that won’t stop him being the villain of the piece when the heroes of the DCU inevitably try to hold him to account.

It may be tempting to say that Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the others will team up and defeat him but knowing Geoff Johns – who wrote Rebirth – the final blow will come from an unexpected source.

Johns has made something of a career taking villains and using them in unusual ways – his run on The Flash gave the Rogues (Captain Cold, Heat Wave, etc) almost as much of a starring role as the speedster himself and while they were clearly villains, you couldn’t help but sympathise with them. In the pages of Green Lantern, he took Sinestro, the mustachioed one dimensional arch-enemy of Hal Jordan, and turned him back into one of the best Green Lanterns without negating the character’s previous history. In Forever Evil, it was Lex Luthor and his band of criminals who saved the world, not the Justice League.

Most recently, he’s used the Anti-Monitor in Justice League, revealing that the character’s name is Mobius, that he was the original owner of Metron’s Mobius Chair (hence the name), and that he stood in opposition to Darkseid. He’s used the character before: briefly in Infinite Crisis (although the character was a corpse at the time) but then in the Sinestro Corps War storyline in Green Lantern, then in Blackest Night before bringing him into the New 52 as Mobius.

Mobius’s title – the Anti-Monitor – isn’t explained in the post-Crisis DCU: in Crisis on Infinite Earths, we have the Monitor and his counterpart, the Anti-Monitor, which is straightforward, if a little unimaginative. But in the post-New 52 DCU (and especially since Convergence negated the original Crisis somehow) there’s been no hint of a Monitor to whom Mobius can be the opposite/counterpart – he’s an Anti with no Pro.

Which brings me back to Rebirth and the revelation from Wally West that someone is watching the DCU, someone is literally a Watchman and everything points to that being Dr Manhattan.

When the DCU heroes finally take him on, it wouldn’t surprise me – as I mentioned above – if they get some help and, this being Geoff Johns with his affinity for doing something different with bad guys, my guess is that this help is going to come from the Anti-Monitor. Sure, at the end of the Darkseid War in Justice League he’s currently dead, but when has that stopped anyone, including the Anti-Monitor himself?

I think the Anti-Monitor’s going to end up going up against Dr Manhattan who, as Rebirth strongly suggests, is watching the DCU. The Anti-Monitor needs someone to be Anti towards.

And what is someone who watches . . . if not a Monitor?

Dr Manhattan The Monitor
With apologies to George Perez and Dave Gibbons.

DC’s December Solicitations

Honestly, it’s always baffled me why DC release their solicits in about five or six different posts; thank goodness Newsarama habitually collate them all into one. Here’s December’s; let’s see what we’ve got, eh?

Harley’s Little Black Book #1

Harley’s Little Black Book #1 – not something I’ll be picking up monthly, but will probably grab in the trade; long been a fan of Palmiotti’s writing and Conner’s art is never less than gorgeous.

Justice League #47

Justice League #47 – I’m enjoying the Darkseid War storyline so far and the use of the Anti-Monitor and the Crime Syndicate is always a plus.

Earth 2 Society #7

Earth 2: Society #7 – the solicitation mentions Dr Impossible – is that Jimmy Olsen on the cover and is he Dr Impossible?

Secret Six #9

Secret Six #9 – if I wasn’t already getting (and thoroughly enjoying) this title, the solicit of “The team’s attempt to defend the Earth from invasion by the Elder Gods takes them to a creepy New England town, inhabited by one very nasty creature.” Secret Six vs Elder Gods? Sold!

Green Lantern #47

Green Lantern #47 – Sonar’s back! What do you think, Bito Wladen or the guy from Kyle Rayner’s run with metal sticking out of him? My money’s on Bito.

And conspicuous by its absence is Green Lantern: The Lost Army #7 which should be out in December. Another title biting the dust?

The above isn’t everything I’m getting (there’s Aquaman and Justice League of America for example) but that’s what caught my eye.