Sunday Reviews

Away last weekend so no reviews; back now, though.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #7

The Fighters hold out with a sympathetic family but they’re betrayed by the father who calls for the Plasstic Men. Phantom Lady manages to kill a number of the rubbery Gestapo types, allowing the Fighters to escape but, unknown to them, one of the Plasstic Men has disguised himself as Doll Woman and is now embedded in the team.

Another solid issue, thankfully unencumbered by the ongoing Year of the Villain event that’s being shoe-horned into almost every other DC title at the moment.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #13

Kent Nelson tells of the origin of Dr Fate and Nabu and how, after everything Nabu made him do over the years, he’ll never become Dr Fate again, nor will Khalid Nassour. Zatanna confronts John Constantine about his part in her father’s grand plan and doesn’t much like the answers. And as the Year of the Villain event rolls on, Lex Luthor turns up to ask Circe to set up an Injustice League Dark.

Another good issue although I missed the pencils of Alvaro Martinez Bueno; I only hope he’s taking a rest and will be back soon.

THE TERRIFICS #18

As some of the team gather up the mini-Plastic Men that represent Eel’s sins before forcing him to reintegrate, Mr Terrific manages to get in to the Noosphere and strike a deal, a result that Ms Terrific isn’t happy with, ending in her breaking off any chance of a romantic hook-up between them. At the end, Lex Luthor manages to send one of his probes to Earth-29 where he recruits Bizarro to destry the Terrifics.

Not a bad issue, though the ethical dilemma of what Mr Terrific has done doesn’t get enough room to breathe here, making Ms Terrific’s unhappiness seem a little out of place.

A WALK THROUGH HELL #12

Garth Ennis’s horror story comes to an end with a final issue that is as horrible, nihilistic and inevitable as you’d imagine. There’s commentary about the world today, and America in particular, but over and above that, there’s a grim indictment of humanity as a whole. We’re all screwed, Ennis’s characters say, and it’s all our fault. I mentioned last month that I was expecting “something dark and nihilistic” and I wasn’t wrong.

This has been an excellent series and ends in the only way possible, as much as you might not like it.

WARLORD OF MARS ATTACKS #2

The Moonheads from Mars continue their attack on Earth while Dr Norman and his compatriots head to an abandoned mine where Norma reveals all – he’s the great grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs and everything Burroughs wrote about John Carter of Mars was true. He explains a theory about the quantum state of Mars, how when viewed from one vantage point it’s a lifeless planet, but when viewed from another – as John Carter had – the place was full of civilisations. Norman had created the Insight Lander that landed on Mars in the previous issue to show the world the wonders of Barsoom . . . but found the Moonheads instead. And, finally, he reveals the body of John Carter in the mine as well, just waiting for the right time to wake up . . . which happens to be at the end of the issue, saving Norman and the others from the Moonheads.

It’s silly and fun and rattles along at a good pace. Still happy I took a punt on this.

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 #61

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.

Everyone remember when John Stewart became a Guardian, complete with red cape? No? You do surprise me.

Sunday Reviews

THE GREEN LANTERN #4

Hal Jordan is held accountable for the (let’s face it) murder of a prisoner in the previous issue and is placed under house arrest by the Guardians. At the same time, a mysterious four armed stranger chats with an equally mysterious woman as he tries to find a way to join the Black Stars, both of them swapping stories of Sun Eaters. Turns out the stranger is actually Jordan, presumably post escaping house arrest, and the woman is the Countess Belzebeth, the titular “Cosmic Vampire’s Beautiful Daughter.

Morrison’s run on GREEN LANTERN continues to be interesting, with lush art by Liam Sharp. The non-linear storytelling works a treat, even if it was obvious from the start that Jordan was the stranger, and I’m guessing Belzebeth’s dad is long-time Justice League foe Starbreaker. Have to admit I’m curious as to who the “wrong man . . . from the Inside-Out” is, though, that Belzebeth finds earlier in the tale.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #17

After the epic events of last week’s JUSTICE LEAGUE ANNUAL, we get a slower, more nuanced tale of Martian Manhunter meeting with Lex Luthor on Mars. J’onn tells Lex a tale of his own childhood which he has recently recovered, a tale where, it turns out, a young Lex and he knew each other and were friends. J’onn appeals to that lost memory within Luthor in the hopes of getting him to stop the Legion of Doom’s plans but, by issue’s end, it’s uncertain how successful he’s been.

A nice character piece, the repressed memory trope notwithstanding, and a nice change from the manic pace of this title.

OBERON #1

Oberon, King of the Fairies, has lost his throne, betrayed by someone he loves, and the key to reclaiming it is Bonnie Blair, a precocious young girl who is sharp as a knife and knows a lot about pretty much everything. Engineering an attack on her, Oberon is able to save her, tell her that her parents are not who she thinks they are, and that he is her friend. With her back home, the truth is revealed and, at her invitation, Oberon is able to rescue her from her not-parents and whisk her away to safety, leaving her not-parents to contact Titania.

I’m so glad I took a chance on this – I think I picked it up based on the strength of a couple of preview pages in another Aftershock title. The writing is crisp and to the point, a little like early Neil Gaiman before he became florrid and over-written. And the art is absolutely gorgeous. Well worth picking up.

SHADOW ROADS #6

Mostly back story on Abigail Redmayne, we get to understand how the world of SHADOW ROADS is connected to, and grew from, the world of THE SIXTH GUN, and her interrogation of the recently captured Hunter. Meanwhile, Anton of the Black Stars (not the ones mentioned above in GREEN LANTERN!) and his friends head off to see a warlock that the Hunter contacted before he was captured.

It took a while to settle into its stride, but this is working well.