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.

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.