Sunday Reviews

ANIMOSITY #19

After the fall of the walled city last issue, both the animals and the humans take stock of not only what they have, but who they are in this new world.

It’s a deep issue, this one, with parallel discussions amongst the animals on one side and the humans on the other, each trying to decide what they’re going to become. There are no easy answers as they’re dealing with big questions but the sense I get is that the past doesn’t define you. While this is a quiet issue in terms of plot, the series as a whole has been damn good.

DARK ARK #15

Shrae’s journey comes to an end as his daughter Khalee makes a deal with the dark lords as her father had before her, in order to face up against their captors who are revealed as the Fallen, those first angels who fell but landed on Earth rather than in Hell. But as with every deal made with devils, there’s a price to pay.

This issue finishes with a big “END” on the last panel, but there’s clearly more story to be told. Whether there’ll be a DARK ARK Book Two or a follow on series under a different name is yet to be seen.

HAWKMAN #10

The Deathbringers are trashing London and despite his best efforts, Hawkman can only do so much to stop them – he is, after all, just one man. Or is he? Having spent the last nine issues travelling through time and space meeting his previous incarnations, he now manages to summon them to the present day to fight the Deathbringers . . . just before he’s stabbed.

It’s all been leading to this, the final confrontation between the two armies, one of which is made up of different incarnations of the same man. The two page spread showing all the different Hawkmen is nice, though it would have been good to see some throwbacks to previous versions of the character as Easter eggs if nothing else. Still, a good read.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #9

The JL Dark face off against the new Lords of Order who have co-opted magic users to act as their hosts while they invade Myrra; Man-Bat learns from Khalid about Dr Fate having gone off the deep end; and Wonder Woman and Zatanna contact Circe to find out who’s behind all of this.

Once again, and I know I’m repeating myself, but this is really my favourite Justice League book, and still for the same reasons I’ve been saying for the last couple of months – it’s gorgeous to look at, and the dialogue is just spot on.

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.

Sunday Reviews

DARK ARK #14

Shrae and many of his monstrous charges have been captured by the mysterious islanders who, as they take the prisoners to their home, walk them through a forest strewn with the wings and halos of angels they’ve killed. Meanwhile, the other survivors plan a rescue of Shrae.

Freed from the confines of the ark, Cullen Bunn is able to develop a bigger story, bringing in more plots and characters – the forest with angel wings was a nice, gruesome touch and the hint that there are more creatures alive in the post-Flood world than first thought is intriguing. This series was getting a little tired three or four issues ago but I’m glad I stuck with it as this seems to promise more.

HAWKMAN #9

Back from his time and planet hopping adventures, Hawkman’s visiting Madame Xanadu in London when enormous Deathbringer robot ships appear above the city. Cue Hawkman jumping into the fray and having his arse kicked by the Deathbringers, now led by his one-time second in command.

Something of a place holder issue, this, where nothing much happens apart from what I outlined above. Still, it looks nice.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #8

Man-Bat tries his hand at magic, thinking of it as a different form of science, while the rest of the JLD either track down magic users to rescue from the Otherkind, or search for Mordru who may be the key to stopping them. Zatanna and Wonder Woman visit various magical places looking for clues while unknown to them, the Oblivion Bar is attacked, forcing Detective Chimp to take the other magicians through to Myrra, only to find that’s exactly what the hidden instigator behind all this wanted in the first place.

This is still my favourite Justice League title, for so many reasons. The art is just gorgeous – even the weird mini-Swamp Thing gremlins that help wait tables in the Oblivion Bar – and the dialogue is natural and occasionally funny without being forced. Thoroughly recommend this book.

VAMPIRELLA/DEJAH THORIS #5

Dejah Thoris and Vampirella work together so that Vampi’s fellow Drakulonians are saved from the all-too eager to kill Red Martians, and then manage to restore some water and vegetation to the otherwise barren Mars, before Vampi and her friends leave to head to Earth.

The mini-series comes to an end, and it’s been enjoyable enough for what it is, though this final issue seemed a little rushed.