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.

Dr Manhattan In The DCU

With Doomsday Clock in full swing, questions are being asked about where Dr Manhattan is hiding in the DCU. The possibility’s been raised that he might be masquerading as someone, perhaps a hero, but if so, then who?

Captain Atom is the obvious – perhaps too obvious – choice as he was the character Manhattan was based upon in the original Watchmen series.

Superman or Dr Fate are possibilities – one’s super strong, the other could be masquerading Manhattan’s reality altering abilities as magic.

Maybe he’s Zatanna – he could easily swap his gender if he wanted to hide in plain sight.

Or maybe . . . maybe he’s not a person at all . . . maybe he’s a thing . . . an object . . . carefully placed to listen in on superhero conversations . . .

Can we get a close up on that mug the Atom’s using?

Oh my God! He’s here, everybody – Dr Manhattan’s here!

Masquerading as a coffee mug!

I, for one, did not see that coming.

 

Scan from JLA #77, March 2003. And if Doomsday Clock references this mug, you read it here first, folks.

Doomsday Clock Pages

The first six pages of Doomsday Clock have been released, along with an interview with writer Geoff Johns.

And it looks like Ozymandias is in trouble, wanted for the murder of millions of people in the New York massacre.

Gary Frank’s art looks gorgeous, similar enough to Gibbons that it retains the Watchmen feel but still his own.

The interview’s interesting, although one line from Johns leapt out at me:

Johns said that Doomsday Clock isn’t necessarily a political book, but it is a book “about extremes.” He thinks people are being forced to pick strong sides, but Rorschach being an “apolitical” figure, refuses to pick a side.

Rorschach “apolitical”? The people to whom he mails his journal, whom he describes as the “only people [I] can trust” is the New Frontiersman, a right wing rag that’s about as far from apolitical as you can get.

If Johns has mis-read Rorschach, that’s not a good start.

Lex’s Right Hand Man

New DC December solicitations are out and the two covers of Doomsday Clock #2 are revealed:

I’m not recognising the costume on the left – the black and white socks/leggings, the black corset with the red buttons and frilled collar. The only things that’s springing to mind is the Harlequin but I’m not convinced. The Nostalgia bottles and case in the bag labelled ….NITE aren’t clues either.

But on the left, his hand resting on Lex’s right shoulder? That’s clearly the armband of Ozymandias and as the solicitation says

DC and Watchmen characters collide at last!

it seems likely that at least one other Watchmen character besides Dr Manhattan is making their way to the DCU. Which makes me wonder if this bit of the solicitation:

And killer clowns trek through Gotham seeking a madman.

is referring to Rorschach – is he the madman?