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.

Mash-Up #91

Three times a week I randomly generate two dates, hunt down covers from those dates and then mash them together and force the results on you lovely people, while giving a hat-tip to the wonderful Super-Team Family blog which has been doing this for years (and a lot better) on an almost daily basis.

And I bet you can guess which of the Leaguers is going to volunteer to take one for the team from Vampirella.

Sunday Reviews

Bit of a bumper week this week as my comic shop didn’t have FREEDOM FIGHTERS or JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK last week.

BARBARELLA/DEJAH THORIS #3

The two time-tossed heroines fight to get back to the labof Barbarella’s now-deceased alien professor friend only to find him somehow manifesting from beyond the grave, telling them both that they have to let Mars die.

I’ve not read anything by Leah Williams before but I’m really enjoying this series; both Dejah Thoris and Barbarella (about whom I know nothing beyond the 1960s film) are written as smart, sassy, fun characters who approach things differently but always for the right reasons. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other stuff by her.

BLACK HAMMER ’45 #3

The Black Hammer Squadron continue their race to Vienna to save the scientist and his family from both the Russians and the Nazis and they manage to arrive to set up the final conflict in the next and last issue.

Once again, Lemire’s BLACK HAMMER universe’s take on the Blackhawks works a treat from a story perspective but, as I mentioned last time, Matt Kindt’s art doesn’t really work for me.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #5

The returned Uncle Sam takes on the Nazis, while giving a history lesson to the America bystanders of who he is and what he stands for. Despite his initial success, he’s still weak and, when the Nazis release a War Wheel, it looks like his return is to be cut short. Cue the Freedom Fighters to the rescue. Elsewhere, the Fuhrer is about to unleash the one man who stopped Uncle Sam last time: Overman.

The necessary pause and info dump of Sam’s history is handled really well, allowing the story to move at the same time as filling in the blanks about why he’s been missing since World War II. The introduction of Overman, who has been mentioned but not seen in previous issues, is done as a nice reveal at the end. Still really enjoying this series.

GREEN LANTERN #7

In the magical kingdom of Emerald Sands, a mysterious Pengowirr finds a memory-lost Hal Jordan and tries to help him save the land that is dying around them, all the while without waking Myrwhydden, the wizard who built this land. As the story progresses, Jordan not only remembers himself but realises who Pengowirr is as well and manages to get back to Oa just in time.

This issue seems almost written to allow artist Liam Sharp to shine as it’s gorgeous – not just the art, but the design and layouts as well, the multiple iterations of panels using the stylised GL logo as borders, the whole thing looks lovely. (Except maybe for the final page where Jordan’s suffering from the same reptile neck that Lara Croft had.)

JUSTICE LEAGUE #23

Superman’s still trapped but is determined to break free; the rest of the League are held prisoner in the Apokolips prison with Lois Lane as their warden; and the World Forger is trying to convince Batman that only saving the good people of our universe, and allowing the bad to perish, is a necessary evil when the fate of the multiverse is at stake. The League manage to escape with the help of the Legion of Doom, just as Batman makes a choice that dooms Superman to death.

Another bombastic issue where everyone yells “the multiverse is dying!” as they have been for what seems like forever. We’re meant to think Batman’s doomed Superman when I will bet on him playing the World Forger and having a plan to subvert what we’ve seen. It looks nice (though why is Jimmy Olsen much, much older in this future but Lois isn’t?) and unless I’ve missed something, why does this Utopian future still have prisons full of bad guys?

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #10

We get a flashback where we see Dr Fate convincing the other Lords of Order of the rightness of his plan which is tied in to the whole “the multiverse is dying!” bigger story, before we take a look at Myrra which is under attack from the Lords. While they plan to evacuate, Zatanna and Wonder Woman speak with Circe who reveals the plan of Zatanna’s father. With the heroes headed back home, Circe is later revealed to be working with the Otherkind, though for her own ends. The issue finishes with a “give up magic or die” offer given to the inhabitants of Myrra.

Once again, still my favourite Justice League book, tying into the bigger picture loosely, but mostly taking it’s own path and looking damn gorgeous while doing it.