Sunday Reviews

“Inconceivable! That was half our fleet!”

Surely we don’t think some omnipotent being snapped his fingers and half our people ceased to exist? HAHAHAHA!”

The Moonheads, dealing with a sudden fall in their numbers

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #9

The torture of the captured Human Bomb and Doll Woman continue, while Uncle Sam and Phantom Lady have to moderate their plan of attack due to Black Condor’s actions. Supposedly in Detroit for a covert mission, he ends up leading a full on rebellion against the Nazis with surprising results.

Another good issue that enters into the final arc; it’s going to be a blast between now and #12, the final issue.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #15

Alive to the threat of Circe, Wonder Woman enlists Zatanna and Kent Nelson to help her access the Witchmark powers from last year’s The Witching Hour storyline; that means using Eclipso’s black diamond. Meanwhile Swamp Thing tries to reconnect with the green only to be defeated by Floronic Man, and Man-Bat goes nuts following his encounter with the Otherkind last issue.

Another cracking issue – tons of stuff happening, along with throwaway references to mystical artefacts like the Spear of Destiny and the Ace of Winchesters, and it all looks gorgeous as well.

SHAZAM #7

Billy sets off to try and find the other members of the Shazam! family; Pedro and Eugene are stuck in what appears to be an amalgamation of Oz and Wonderland, while Darla and Freddie are rescued by Tawky Tawny only to end up in the Darklands, just like Billy.

Plagued by delays, this title is still entertaining when it arrives. I couldn’t help but notice it’s taken these seven issues before there’s even a hint that it’s taking place within the main DCU as Mary Marvel plans to head off and find the Justice League to enlist Wonder Woman’s help. The next issue blurb of “Shazam meets… Captain Marvel?!” sounds intriguing.

THE TERRIFICS #20

The Terribles faces of against the Terrifics and win, finding the power source they need to start up their time machine. They need more, however, which means a threat to Phantom Girl’s home planet, but before that, the Terrifics have to contend with being warped back to the 90s and then the 80s!

Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of Bizarro and the forced backwards speech that always reads inconsistently, but I can ignore than when the rest of this issue is so much fun.

WARLORD OF MARS ATTACKS #4

John Carter finally makes it back to Barsoom, but so do the Moonheads – though half of them promptly vanish thanks to the quantum-flux state of the planet. The remainder are attacked by the Heliumites and the Tharks, led of course by Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkas, all of which leads to the final confrontation in the next issue.

Still enjoying this – it’s very silly and charges along at a good pace and is clearly having fun with itself.

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.

Sunday Reviews

BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM #10

Lucy and Talky get the gang back together, waking up Abraham Slam, Golden Gail and Barbalien, along the way finding Colonel Weird, all because the red skies that are gathering herald the return of Anti-God. Before their next move, Lucy is whisked away to meet someone they all thought long dead: her father, the original Black Hammer.

Another fine issue the moves the Black Hammer world along nicely – the red skies were a nice touch, too!

HAWKMAN #12

It’s the final battle between Hawkman and the army of Deathbringers he used to command in ages past. And, as you might imagine, it’s sort of brutal as Hawkman wrests control of the Deathbringers who have invaded London away from Idamm while his previous incarnations prevent the destruction of the city.

Bryan Hitch goes out in fine form as this first big arc of the HAWKMAN series comes to an end. It hasn’t been brilliant, but it hasn’t been bad, either.

JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY #9

Azrael’s new power to speak of peace calms both the Tamaraneans and the followers of Rapture, making them work together, while Cyborg tries to find the first of the relics Darkseid needs to build Sepulkore and use it to prevent the destruction of the Multiverse. As the team get back together, Jessica Cruz is the only one who seems suspicious of Azrael’s new power, Starfire’s apparent willingness to follow Darkseid, and even Cyborg’s motivations.

We’re still trapped in the Ghost Sector, still trying to find some magical doodad to put together to prevent the end of it all, and slowly moving forward. Dan Abnett’s character interaction is better than the early issues, but it still seems like we’re treading water, here.

OBERON #4

Mother Mayie’s betrayal of Oberon is dealt with, and he prepares Bonnie for attendance at the Immortal Masquerade, a fairy ball that never stops. Elsewhere, Titania receives news that the mysterious Nevermen are returning. She and Oberon strike a deal to swap Bonnie for the end of Oberon’s exile, the exchange to take place at the Masquerade. Unsurprisingly, Oberon is double crossed and ends up face to face with Robin Goodfellow.

Once again, another good issue that looks and reads great. My only concern is the “To be concluded” on the last page and the fact that OBERON hasn’t been solicited beyond next month’s #5. I’m hoping the conclusion will be to the story arc and it’ll just be on a break for a couple of months.

SHADOW ROADS #7

Part of the gang track down The Mizadori in their quest to find the Hunter and who he was working with, but interrogating someone who turns out to be a sentient hotel doesn’t go well. Elsewhere, the others receive portents and messages that will send them to different places.

Honestly, it’s been the best part of three months since the last issue and it’s all a bit disjointed by now. Still, it looks good.

SHAZAM! #5

Billy and Mary are trying to escape the Funlands; Pedro and Eugene are trying to get out of the Gamelands; and Darla and Freddy are on trial in the Wildlands. Back at the Rock of Eternity, Black Adam tries to enter the seven kingdoms but is stopped by Dr Sivana. The big reveal here, though, is that this take’s version of Talky Tawny is finally revealed and he looks great!

I guess it’s the art that is causing the delays on this title, as the Eugene and Pedro pages are illustrated by Scott Kolins while the rest of the issue is by series regular Dale Eaglesham. The styles are different so it’s a little jarring but if it gets this book out sooner, I’m all for it.

Shazam! Review

A spoiler free review here for you, folks, so fear not.

Young Billy Batson is an orphan with a persistent habit of running away from foster homes before he ends up in his last chance home with loving and understanding foster parents and five other foster kids. Chief among them is Freddy, a wise-cracking, self-professed superhero expert and, while Billy tries not to get attached, he can’t help himself defending Freddy when the local bullies torment him. Billy runs and ends up being transported to the Rock of Eternity where the wizard Shazam grants him his powers to save the world from the Seven Deadly Sins that have been released by Dr Sivana.

Billy gets back to the real world and confides in Freddy that he has powers; Freddy’s response is to film Shazam testing those powers, uploading the clips to the net and basking in the views. Eventually, though, Sivana comes calling, wanting Shazam’s powers for himself. Cue various fights before the big finale where Shazam gets some help from some others and – no real surprise – defeats the bad guy.

Story-wise it’s not a great deal more than that, but that’s not saying it’s bad by any means. Most of the main characters have enough screen time; Rosa and Victor (the foster parents) seem to genuinely like their rag-tag family of kids; and the leads of Billy, Freddy and the adult Shazam are clearly having a blast – the last two particularly.

And it’s funny, too – not belly achingly hilarious, but enough to make me smile and chuckle plenty of times throughout; the big villain speech scene towards the end was great, for example. It’s clear that with this, Zack Snyder’s grimdark version of the DCU has finally been laid to rest, and not a moment too soon.

A little slow in some places, and a little too long in others, it’s still a fun film so gets three lightning bolts out of five.