Robinson’s 8 part story arc hasn’t really impressed the Revolution. It started nice, but rapidly declined. Right now, I’m just ready for the new creative team to start next issue. I think that Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert are going to rock this title. Any way, will Batman #654 be able to deliver a satisfying conclusion? Let’s find out.
Writer: James Robinson
Penciler: Don Kramer
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue starts with Batman and Robin meeting with Commissioner Gordon in his office. Gordon tells the dynamic duo that Two-Face has taken over Gotham Zoo. His only hostages were one male and one female zoo employees.
We then cut to Batman and Robin brawling with Two-Face. Two-Face gives the standard “You made me this.” speech to Batman. That Batman didn’t trust him. Batman tells Two-Face that he does believe him. That Harvey is innocent. Two-Face says it is too late for that. Harvey tells Batman that he is only playing with Batman. That he could have killed him, but that he wants Batman to live. That way every time Two-Face kills then Batman can know that he helped to cause that death by helping to re-create Two-Face. With that, Two-Face throws some smoke bombs and disappears. Batman then tells Robin that he is going to go visit the man who framed Harvey Dent.
We shift to Arkham Asylum. Batman enters Warren White’s cell. White is now known as “The Great White Shark” due to his disfigured face. Batman tells White that he knows that he framed Harvey Dent. That White is the secret crime boss of Gotham. That he has been building up to this since he came to Arkham. That White has done such a good job that Penguin fled Gotham. That all the people involved with the murders: Hatter, Scarecrow, Croc and Tally Man were all inmates in Arkham. That Tally Man was White’s trigger man committing the murders with Harvey’s gun. White wanted Dent out of the way since he was putting a serious hurt on his crime operations for the year that Batman was gone.
Batman concludes that he doesn’t have the evidence to prove that White has take over from the Penguin and that he is running Gorham’s crime syndicate. Batman then lifts White into the air and says that this is just the beginning. That Batman is now his enemy. Batman then throws White into his cell wall. Batman concludes that he is going to catch Two-Face and then he will tell Two-Face what White did and then Batman will bring Two-Face to Arkham. (Hey, this new Batman still has some balls!)
We cut to the Batcave. Bruce tells Tim that it is time they talked. That Tim has lost so much. His mother and father are dead. That Tim deserves more. Bruce says he is not doing a good job saying this and asks Alfred to lead them up to the manor. The trio enters Dick Grayson’s old room. Bruce says that Dick would have wanted Tim to live here. Tim says that he doesn’t understand. That Bruce has already given him the stable to live in. Bruce says that isn’t enough. That they are a team. That Wayne Manor should be Tim’s home. That Dick was legally his ward. That it gave him security. That Tim should have that, too. But, the laws have changed and Bruce can’t adopt Tim as his ward. That he will have to adopt him as his son. Bruce says he doesn’t know how Tim feels about that. Bruce continues that he could never replace Tim’s real father, but he would try his best. Tim suddenly embraces Bruce in a big hug. Tears start pouring down Tim’s face. Bruce holds Tim and tells him that everything will be fine. (That was a nicely done scene.) End of issue.
The Good: I wasn’t very impressed with this issue. Technically, it was written well. However, it wasn’t a particularly great read. I did like the scene with White and Batman. It was nice to see a little of the pre-Infinite Crisis Batman make an appearance for the first time in Robinson’s story arc. Batman smacking around and threatening White is the Batman I like.
I don’t really know that much about White. But, a new crime boss is always a good thing. Plus, I like the twist of this current Gotham crime boss conducting his syndicate from within Arkham Asylum. I think that this plotline has some potential. It should be interesting to see what Grant Morrison does with this character.
I enjoyed the final scene of this issue. Yeah, we all saw this coming from a mile away. I am sure that absolutely nobody that reads Batman was even remotely surprised that this was Bruce’s plan for Tim. Still Robinson wrote a very powerful scene. Bruce was so uncomfortable. Bruce can fight a room full of psychos, talk to Gordon on his phone and solve a murder all at the same time and remain calm and collected while doing it. However, when it comes to expressing any type of feelings or communicating with a loved one, Bruce becomes nervous and unsure of himself. Robinson does a nice job with Bruce’s character in this scene.
And Tim’s reaction was perfect. No talking. Just a sudden embrace and tears. Tim has been through more than any teenager could possibly experience. At some point, you know that he has to just collapse under the weight of the world on his shoulders. In this scene, for at least a moment, Tim doesn’t have to be strong. He can be weak and let Bruce carry some of that weight.
I enjoyed Kramer’s artwork. Kramer has done a great job with the art duties during this One Year Later storyline. I like his Batman and I wouldn’t mind seeing him handle the art duties for Batman or Detective Comics at some point in the future.
The Bad: This issue was an extremely anti-climactic ending. The scene with Two-Face was very predictable and generic. It was fast and was nothing more than the typical “You made me this.” “You are going to feel sorry every time I do something evil.” Scene. We have seen this scene before in not only Batman, but in plenty of other comic books. It felt flat and unimaginative.
The scene with White was also unimpressive. The entire revelation that White was the person who framed Two-Face did nothing for me. It doesn’t elicit shock or surprise. The entire reason for White framing Two-Face just seemed to convenient of a wrap up. It seemed like Robinson came up with an interesting idea at first and then simply didn’t know how to end it. So, he used the convenient story of a rival crime boss trying to get Two-Face out of the way. I don’t know. It simply didn’t excite me or impress me.
Bruce’s plan for Tim was painfully obvious. This surprised absolutely nobody. I was really hoping that Robinson had something interesting up his sleeve, but I was wrong. I’m not saying that I don’t like Bruce adopting Tim. I don’t care either way. I just hoped that with all this build up that it might be something a bit more surprising than the obvious choice.
I know that DC wants to make the post-Infinite Crisis more like the wimpy Batman before Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Batman took a different tone after 1986. Obviously, DC wants the post-Infinite Crisis Batman more like the 1970’s and early 1980’s Batman. That means he is a lighter in tone, works closely with Commissioner Gordon and works as a team with Robin. This also means that Bruce has to have a ward/son. Thus the adoption. Personally, I like my Batman dark (and I’m not talking about the Batman over in All Star Batman) who acts as a complete loner in his fight against crime.
Overall: Batman #654 was an anti-climactic ending. Compare this 8 issue storyline with the 8 issue storyline over in Superman and Action Comics. The Superman storyline was much more entertaining and had a fantastic ending. This Batman storyline wasn’t as good of a read and this ending just fell flat. And I’m a huge Batman fan who has never liked Superman. The good news is that Morrison takes over with the next issue and I fully expect it to be a great read.
Friday, June 30, 2006
Robinson’s 8 part story arc hasn’t really impressed the Revolution. It started nice, but rapidly declined. Right now, I’m just ready for the new creative team to start next issue. I think that Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert are going to rock this title. Any way, will Batman #654 be able to deliver a satisfying conclusion? Let’s find out.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
I’m really at a loss for words with this title. I have ranted. I have raved. I have taken cheap shots. I pretty much blasted and attacked this title every which way since Supergirl hijacked the Legion of Super Heroes. But, now I’m spent. I’m totally over this title. I’m resigned to the fact that DC has butchered this comic since the day that Paul Levitz left it. And there is no reason for me to believe that DC will ever get this title right again. Do I think Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #19 is going to be a great read? No. But, at least Superbarbie isn’t on the cover of this issue. Let’s go to the review.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Barry Kitson
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: The issue starts with Chameleon being interrogated by the Science Police for a murder. The head SP officer tells Chameleon that he has been impersonating an SP officer for some time and that Chameleon is their number one suspect. Chameleon attempts to explain that he has been framed.
We flashback to 12 hours ago. Chameleon disguises himself as SP rookie Officer Daggle. Officer Daggle goes to the prison cell where the perp that the Legion caught impersonating an SP officer was being held. The perp is believed to be connected to the underground robot rebellion. The cell has inertron walls and a Coluan force shield for a door. Yet, somehow, an assassin got in the cell and blew the perp’s head off and then vanished without a trace.
We then cut to Supergirl who meets with Theena. Theena has a psychic symbiote that is activate by emotion and allows Theena to connect to various people no matter where they are in the galaxy. Theena is basically a message nexus. Supergirl asks Theena to find Seiss, the kid whose powers went nuts and caused an earthquake. Theena says that she cannot find Seiss anywhere.
We shift back to Chameleon disguised as Office Daggle at the scene of the crime. He meets Jeyra Entinn who is a powerful telepath from Titan. Jeyra is mute and only “speaks” telepathically. Jeyra tells Officer Daggle that she was using her powers to conduct metal cross-examinations with the perp for brief periods of time outside of contact or invasive observation by anyone else. During one of their sessions, a robot from the rebellion teleported into the room and brutally killed the perp. Jeyra hit the panic switch to restore surveillance, but it was too late. The robot has vanished. She asks Officer Daggle for his help. That Titans aren’t well liked on Earth in the first place and her mistake could damage the already strained relationship between Earth and Titan.
Officer Daggle and Jeyra go on a secret mission down to the underground levels of Metropolis where the robot rebellion is located. Chameleon talks about the Singularity Wars and how humans had to get rid of all their technology to prevent the robots from taking over. Then when new A.I. was created, it was carefully policed and monitored. Chameleon explains that the robot rebellion believes that all technology has value and instead of trashing it or recycling it that the old tech should be re-integrated back into the product stream. That explains the black market bazaar that Officer Daggle and Jyra stumble upon. They spy a fake SP officers. That the robots have been hiring extra-terrestrial humanoids to impersonate SP officers and to steal impounded technology from SP warehouses. Therefore they could combine this technology to “recycle” their ancestors. We then see a giant version of Robotman being constructed by the rebellion forces. (Very cool.)
The giant Robotman is activated and it immediately detects Officer Daggle and Jeyra. Chameleon has no choice by to blow his cover and transform into a beast large enough to take out the robot attackers. Chameleon ends up defeating the giant Robotman. Chameleon then captures one of the fake SP officers. The fake SP Officer swears that they had nothing at all to do with the murder of the perp. That if they had such teleportation technology then they would be swarming the overground rather than building robots in the underground. Jeyra tells Chameleon that the fake SP Officer is telling the truth.
We then cut to Chameleon and Jeyra back on the surface of Metropolis. Jeyra suddenly plants a huge kiss on Chameleon. Cham is totally shocked. Jeyra then tells Chameleon that they should go take a closer look at the crime scene.
We then move forward to Chameleon transforming into different creatures trying to find any clue at all. He has no success. He then turns to Jeyra and tells her that he has solved the case. Jeyra points her gun at Chameleon and tells him that it is about time. She then shows Chameleon his Legion flight ring that she took from him when she kissed him. Chameleon is no longer protected by the ring’s psi-shield. Chameleon is frozen stiff unable to move or transform. Jeyra then tells Chameleon that she is an agent for the rebellion and her job was to make sure that the perp never confessed. That she used her mental powers to make the perp smash his own head into the wall and kill himself. She then used Chameleon as her fall guy. Jeyra says that she will now kill Chameleon and use her powers to suggest that he was the killer and between her powers and the anti-Legion sentiment that the SP will believe her. Chameleon still unable to transform since Jeyra was making him mentally blind and he couldn’t focus on anything to transform into except one thing. The thing that Jeyra was focusing on. Herself. Chameleon transformed in Jeyra which startled her and broke her concentration. Chameleon was then able to move and punched out Jeyra.
We cut to the present where the SP end up releasing Chameleon due to his story and the evidence they found backing him up. Chameleon leaves, but is disturbed about the fact the Legion no longer has an “in” with the SP. Also that if it was so easy to infiltrate the SP then what are the odds that the SP has planted a spy in the Legion. (Good question, Cham.)
We then shift to Brainiac 5’s lab. Cosmic Boy has just received word that Dream Girl’s people have rescinded their demand for her body for an immediate burial. Timber Wolf tells Cosmic Boy that he hasn’t seen Brainy since he called Element Lad and Light Lass into his lab and slammed the door. They look in Brainy’s lab and discover that the stasis chambers are empty. That wherever Brainy has gone, he has taken Dream Girl and Lemnos with him. End of issue.
The Good: This issue was just average. Nothing great and nothing terrible. One huge positive about this issue was that we only had to put up with Supergirl for 3 pages! That is fantastic. Of course, even in such a limited dose, she still managed to act like a total bimbo. Still, I’ll take an average story with little to no Supergirl any day of week over the Supergirl filled issues that we have had since she hi-jacked this title.
I liked that we finally learned more about the robot rebellion. I loved the use of Robotman from Doom Patrol in this issue. That was a cool touch.
I also liked that we didn’t have any of the adult versus teenager storyline in this issue. The less of that plotline the better. I was already bored with it after the 5th issue of this title.
The end teased us with the fact that there may be a spy for the SP lurking in the Legion. I hope that Waid develops that storyline a bit more in the future.
Barry Kitson’s artwork is still the only real strong point of this comic book. I’m a huge fan of Kitson’s art and it is the only thing that I can count on to be great every time I get a new issue of the Legion of Super Heroes. Kitson draws a great Legion and makes this a fun book to look at. His artwork also helps make a rather average story more enjoyable to read.
The Bad: The story had a paint by numbers feel to it and was rather predictable. You knew that Jeyra was the killer the minute she first appeared. Also, not much really happened. We did learn a little bit more about the robot rebellion, but not much. We got teased with the fact that Seiss has gone missing. Then we had the ending that Brainy has disappeared with Dream Girl and Lemnos’ bodies. That just isn’t enough to make for a particularly interesting issue.
This issue lacked excitement. It just felt like Waid was mechanically advancing the story but not giving much to really interest the reader. Maybe Waid is focusing most of his energies on 52. I don’t know. But, it is clear that the OYL storyline in the Legion has not been very impressive.
The pacing is slow. The story feels unfocused. I wish that Waid would focus more on the Dominators and their plan or this new team that is forming whether it is the Legion of Super Villains or the Legion of Substitute Heroes rather than the robot rebellion. At this point, I just am not really interested in this robot rebellion. So robots are rebelling against man and want to subjugate us. It isn’t really that exciting or original. There has to be some kind of big surprise with this robot rebellion to get me interesting in this storyline.
This title is simply plodding along. There is very little buzz or excitement in any of the various plotlines. I find all of this very surprising because I think Waid is a very talented writer. I usually enjoy Waid’s stuff. I have thought that most of his comic books are very well done and fun to read. However, for some reason, it just isn’t happening on this title. It is like a sports team signing a big time successful free agent and for whatever reason he just never gets the job done with his new team. It doesn’t make sense and is hard to explain. When I first heard that Waid was taking over the Legion I was thrilled. I thought DC was finally putting some real talent on this title and that it was going to be a huge hit and a great read. That simply has not happened. Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes just continues to be a very uninspiring read.
Overall: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #19 was average at best. It almost seems that Waid is uninterested in this title and that it is showing through in the stories. I will give this issue huge props for not paying much attention to Supergirl. On that basis alone, this issue is a success. However, this issue simply wasn’t an interesting, exciting or fun read. I have no idea if the Legion of Super Heroes will ever turn that corner and become an exciting read once again. I really hope that it will. I love these characters and want to see this title succeed. However, I simply cannot recommend this Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes to anyone other than the most die-hard Supergirl and Legion fans.
Busiek and Johns have done a nice job converting me from a Superman hater into a mild Superman fan. I’m still not totally sold on Superman. I still find him to be a bit vanilla in personality. However, Action Comics has been a fun read. I think this “Up, Up and Away” storyline has been great and I am excited to read the conclusion. Let’s hit the review for Action Comics #840.
Writer: Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns
Artist: Pete Woods
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: The issue starts with Superman and Lex falling into the ocean. They both manage to swim ashore. Lex’s protective suit has shorted out and Superman is temporarily powerless due to all the green kryptonite exposure. So, Lex says it is time to settle this as normal men. The two enemies engage in your basic fist fight. Superman tells Lex that the powers and cape don’t matter. That he will always oppose Lex powers or no powers. Superman points out that Lex could do so much for the world if he would only let go of his rage. With that, Superman knocks out Lex and then Superman promptly passes out from his injuries.
Superman wakes up to rescue team telling him that they will take him to a hospital. They tell Superman that Lex has already been taken back to Stryker’s. Superman says that he is ok and flies away from the scene. The streets of Metropolis are filled with Superman supporters cheering him. Superman thinks to himself that Lex is wrong. Metropolis’ respect has to be earned. It isn’t owed or automatic. Superman man flies home to Lois. They embrace each other.
We shift to the next day at the Daily Planet. Clark opens a package from Ma Kent. It is his old typewriter. Clark’s powers have been disrupting electronic devices and causing his computer to crash. Perry comes barging in and demands to know where Clark disappeared to. Clark apologizes and then gives Perry a complete story full of perspectives of the attack, a statement from LexCorp, Pentagon officials and information about the ship. Perry thanks Clark, but says he wants dependable more than brilliant but erratic. Lois then jumps in and tells Perry that Clark was really sick, that Clark gave Perry a great story and for Perry to let it go. Perry walks off. Some co-workers whisper that the great Mr. Lane can get away with anything. Jimmy then tells Clark that he really needs to meet with Superman.
We cut to Superman helping with the repair efforts around Metropolis. Jimmy then approaches Superman and tells him that they need to talk. Superman flies them up to the roof of a building. Jimmy then gives Superman the Sunstone crystal that he found during the battle. Superman takes it and thanks Jimmy. Superman then hands Jimmy his old signal watch. (Cool.) Jimmy is excited to have it back. Suddenly, we hear cries for help and Superman takes off.
We shift to Superman battling Dr. Virus and Kryptococcus, which can duplicate and communicate any disease human or alien. Superman uses his heat vision to make short work of Kryptoccocus. Dr. Virus then surrenders and says that Intergang ordered him to attack Superman. Superman then signs some autographs for his adoring fans. Superman then hears a news report with his super hearing that Lex has escaped from Stryker’s Island. Superman is about to take off when Mahjoub, a street vendor, tells Superman to wait a minute.
We then cut to Superman at the North Polar ice cap. Superman examines the Sunstone crystal and says that it is so much more than what Lex thought it was. That the Sunstone crystal has individual command modules, activation nodes, multi-dimensional blueprints and more. And that the Sunstone recognizes Kryptonian brain activity. With a thought, Superman activates the Sunstone crystal and then throws it into the snow. Suddenly, a huge crystal fortress sprouts from the ground. (Just like the one in the original Superman movies and from Smallville. Very cool.) Superman mentions that his Fortress of Solitude in the Amazon is damaged and too many people know about its location. That he may keep the Amazon one as a “public address,” but that he needs a new private one. Maybe multiple sanctuaries around the world.
Superman then reaches into his cape and pulls out a pretzel with mustard that Mahjoub gave him. Superman enjoys the pretzel as he enters his new Fortress of Solitude. End of issue.
The Good: Action Comics #840 was a great ending to a very enjoyable story arc. I liked all the scenes in this issue. The fist fight between Lex and Superman was well done. It showed that Superman is much more than his powers and his costumes. That Superman is simply standing for what is right and fighting evil in whatever capacity that he can. This scene also showed the reader what a truly warped individual Lex is. That Lex’s hatred has totally consumed him and the world has lost a genius who really could do so many positive things for mankind.
The scene at the Daily Planet was a nice change of pace. After Superman has been soaking up the glory and adulation of the population of Metropolis, Clark Kent isn’t so lucky. He gets yelled at by his boss, has to have his wife stand up for him and then has his co-workers mocking him behind his back. This was a nice counter-balance. Even someone has powerful and popular as Superman can have a tough day at the office as Clark Kent just like we all have experienced. This scene does a nice job making Clark Kent someone that we can relate to.
I liked the scene with Jimmy Olsen. It was great to see the signal watch again. I like seeing Superman returning to his roots.
Of course, the best scene was probably the ending. It was so cool to see the crystal Fortress of Solitude spring forth from the snow. I am thrilled that Busiek is bringing back this version of the Fortress of Solitude. It does a nice job connecting the comic book with the Superman movies and with Smallville. Plus, I have always liked this version of the Fortress of Solitude the most. This Fortress has plenty of potential and I hope that Busiek gets a lot of use out of it.
Action Comics #840 was a very satisfying finale to an entertaining story arc. I am amazed that Busiek and Johns have actually gotten me to like Superman. The mood to this comic book was just right. I liked the themes that were re-enforced in this issue. That Superman will always be about truth and justice. That Superman will always work hard to protect Metropolis. That the city of Metropolis will always give Superman the respect that he rightfully deserves. And that Superman has been re-born. That he is going to live for the moment and gladly great what the new day brings to him. It is really a nice change of pace to see a super-hero who is secure and at peace with himself. Nowadays, most heroes either full of anger, hate or angst. It is quite enjoyable to see a hero in Superman who has come to terms and accepted who he is and his role in the world. And that his motivations to be a hero don’t stem from anything dark and tragic.
Plus, it is great that we saw the return of trademark Superman features like Jimmy’s signal watch and Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. It is nice that Busiek is really embracing Superman’s roots and isn’t trying to make Superman’s character and his world into something that it isn’t just to try and make it more edgy, dark or realistic.
Busiek and Johns deliver a nicely paced issue. They wrapped up the plotline with Lex and continued on with the Intergang plotline. I think that the writers have a nice feel for the characters and wrote some good dialogue.
Pete Woods turned some excellent artwork. Woods draws a great Superman. His art really makes this comic book enjoyable to read.
The Bad: No complaints at all with this story. My only very minor quibble is that I just don’t dig how Woods draws Lois Lane.
Overall: Action Comics #540 was a very good ending to a great story arc. I am amazed that I am actually buying and enjoying a Superman comic book. This title is a nice change of pace from the vast majority of the titles currently on the market. This comic book is fortunate to have a writer in Busiek who clearly cares about Superman’s character. This makes for a great comic book to read. Readers who prefer the darker, edgier and more realistic comic books probably won’t get this title. For the rest of you, I would recommend that you give Action Comics a try.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
X-Factor #8 is yet another Civil War tie-in. Quicksilver makes his return to X-Factor in this issue. That should be interesting. The Revolution has really enjoyed David’s run on X-Factor and issue #8 should be no exception. Let’s crank this review up.
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Dennis Calero
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: The issue starts with Siryn, Guido and Madrox discussing that Quicksilver might be in Mutant Town. Madrox says that Cyclops told him that Quicksilver was dangerous and to contact the X-Men and let them handle him. Guido asks Madrox if he thinks that Cyclops is lying. Madrox says that he doesn’t know. Madrox and Guido leave the brownstone. On the outside steps they pass Layla who is reading a thick book. Guido asks her if she is reading Harry Potter. Layla responds that she is reading Atlas Shrugged.
We then cut to Siryn, Rictor and Monet talking. Siryn mentions how J. J. Jameson’s editorial supporting the Registration Act is as idiotic as he is. Siryn continues that the Registration Act represents a slow erosion of freedom. Rictor says the roots of the Act are in the Mutant Registration Act so they should be united with groups like the X-Men and stand against the Registration Act. Siryn then stated that she doesn’t know what is up with the X-Men. That the other day it appeared that Cyclops recognized Layla, but then acted like he didn’t.
Layla then enters the room. The phone rings and it is Madrox. He tells Siryn to talk to other high profile super heroes to find out what they know about Decimation. Siryn hangs up the phone and asks Layla if she knows anything about the X-Men possibly holding back information about Decimation. Layla asks them if they would believe her. Rictor answers that he probably wouldn’t. Therefore, Layla leaves the room and goes back out to the front steps. There she runs into a dupe of Madrox. She tells him that everyone is upstairs. We then see Siryn flying off with Layla looking up at her saying “I’m sorry.”
The Madrox dupe enters the room where Rictor and Monet are hanging out. The Dupe says that he is working on behalf of the government and is here to sign them up pursuant to the Registration Act. Rictor and Monet laugh at Dupe. The Dupe then shows them his I.D. and says he is Jamie Madrox: agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
We cut back to outside the brownstone where a mutant flies over Layla. The mutant claims that Quicksilver gave him his powers back. Then the mutant realizes that he can’t land and just continues to fly off higher and higher out of control.
We then shift over to Madrox and Guido paying a visit to Modern Labs which is a skuzzy little lab. Dr. Modern tells Madrox that he analyzed the tissue samples. Dr. Modern says that Damian Tryp is a sub-species. That he is different from mutants and humans. Madrox then asks Dr. Modern about the sample for the son Tryp, Jr. Dr. Modern replies that the two samples that Madrox gave him are exact DNA matches. That they are the same guy. (Cool. I didn’t see that coming.)
We then cut to Siryn helping Spider-Man take down a bad guy. The two then meet on a rooftop and debate the Registration Act. Then Siryn uses her voice powers to put Spider-Man into a trance and asks him to tell her everything he knows about Decimation. The hypnotized Spider-Man readily agrees.
We shift back to the X-Factor brownstone where Rahne walks past Layla and enters the building. A disfigured mutant who looks like he is melting comes up to Layla and says it is her fault that he did this to him.
We then follow Rahne walking into Monet and Rictor signing the Registration forms. Madrox’s Dupe explains to Rahne that Madrox dispatched him to study espionage a long time ago and Val Cooper made him a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. Rahne asks Rictor and Monet why they signed the Registration papers. Rictor said he didn’t care since he is now powerless. Monet says she didn’t care because she has nothing to hide.
We then cut back to Layla and the dying mutant. The melting mutant dissolves into a gooey puddle. Madrox’s dupe leaves the brownstone and tells Layla that it looks like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Layla answers that she does. The dupe asks how she deals with that. Layla says that she shrugs. (Nice reference to the beginning scene.)
We then cut to Siryn calling Madrox and telling him that Spider-Man told her everything. Siryn rants that Cyclops lied to them and that the X-Men know about what happened in Decimation. Siryn wants to go to the X-Mansion and knock some heads. Madrox tells Siryn to calm down and meet him back at the brownstone.
We shift back to Layla sitting on the steps of the brownstone. Quicksilver approaches her and asks Layla if he knows her. Layla answers that she is his nemesis. Quicksilver then threatens Layla. Layla is nonplussed by his threats. Layla tells Quicksilver that they are waiting for him upstairs. Quicksilver then enters X-Factor’s brownstone. End of issue.
The Good: I thought that X-Factor #8 was a great issue! David serves up a strong issue and by far the best of the Civil War tie-in issues. Of course, this issue was barely a Civil War tie-in. We had the Madrox Dupe signing up Rictor and Monet under the Registration Act. We had Siryn talk a little to Spider-Man about it. That’s it. I think that X-Factor #8 is more of a Decimation tie-in than a Civil War tie-in.
I love David’s writing on this issue. David expertly combines dark and serious themes with subtle and sly humor mixed in at unexpected moments. This style of writing makes X-Factor an off-beat story that is highly entertaining to read. It is the little things like Layla mentioning that she is reading “Atlas Shrugged” in the beginning and then referencing the book at the end of the issue in her discussion with Madrox’s dupe.
David also delivers excellent dialogue. The dialogue is natural and has great rhythm. David is also great at cranking out sarcastic and humorous dialogue. David’s dialogue makes X-Factor a fast and enjoyable read. David also has an excellent feel for each of the characters. David has given each character their own unique voice. David also does a great job continuing to develop and grow these characters with each issue. For example, the more I read Layla the more I like her. With the first five issues of X-Factor, I really wasn’t a big fan of Layla at all. However, David has a done a nice job developing her character more and more with each issue. Now, I think Layla is an interesting and wonderful character.
David has also done well developing Madrox into a more complex and interesting character. Siryn and Rictor have also gotten nice development. I am enjoying the chemistry and interaction of the members of X-Factor. David has assembled a great cast and they make for an odd and off-beat team. These characters are a refreshing break from the standard team books that you get in X-Men, Avengers, JLA, etc.
David dropped a pretty big bomb on us with the revelation that the DNA samples from Tryp and his son, Junior come from the same man! I can’t wait to see where David goes with this. I guess it is possible that Tryp cloned himself.
David then dropped a smaller bomb by having Siryn find out everything that Spider-Man knew about Decimation. This confirms her suspicion that the X-Men have been lying to them. This is going to make for a seriously interesting plotline. I can’t wait to see the misfits of X-Factor lock horns with the celebrities in the X-Men.
David does a good job hooking the reader at the end of this issue with the arrival of Quicksilver at X-Factor’s brownstone. I thought the conversation between Quicksilver and Layla was perfect. I cannot wait to read the next issue to see what happens next. David definitely has me ready to read the next issue right now!
David kicks up the pace of the story in this issue. And that was necessary. David’s story is starting to become more focused and directed. I think X-Factor #8 may be the best issue so far in this series.
I am really becoming a fan of Dennis Calero’s artwork. At first, I was not sold on Calero’s art. But, now I love it. I think Calero’s art meshes perfectly with the tone and mood that David is setting in this story. Calero gives X-Factor a unique look that fits its off-beat story.
The Bad: My only complaint is that David has really ignored up to this point would be Guido and Monet. David really needs to spend some time focusing and developing these two a little bit more.
Overall: X-Factor #8 was a great read. David is really cranking up this story and each issue gets better and better. I seriously recommend X-Factor. It is one of the best and most unique comic books on the market. The only people that may not like this title are readers that prefer fast past action packed comics. Other than those readers, I think everyone else would enjoy this title.
Fantastic Four has not been that great of a read in a while. However, this title has really picked up with the Civil War storyline. Hopefully, Fantastic Four #538 will continue this upward trend. I’m cautiously optimistic about this title. Let’s go to the review.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Mike McKone
Inker: Andy Lanning
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: This issue starts with Reed, Sue and Ben in Johnny’s hospital room. Johnny is in a coma and Ben and Sue decide to take shifts staying and talking to Johnny hoping to revive him. Reed can’t stay since he has to help Tony Stark in the war against the heroes who oppose the Registration Act. Sue and Reed have a difference of opinion. Sue is against fighting their friends because they oppose the Registration Act. Reed sees no other option.
Reed and Sue leave and Ben stays with Johnny to take the first shift. Ben rambles on to Johnny about old stories of when he was a kid. Then he tells Johnny about what happened in Oklahoma after Thor’s hammer was found. That people from all around the country came to try and lift Thor’s hammer. They all failed.
Sue then enters the hospital room for her shift with Johnny. Sue tells Ben that Reed is wrong. They shouldn’t be fighting the heroes who oppose the Registration Act. Ben asks Sue if she wants them to take up arms against their own government. Sue responds that disagreement isn’t disloyalty. That sometimes the most patriotic thing you can do in a democracy is disagree. (Oh boy. Here we go with the preaching.)
Ben then leaves Sue with Johnny. On his way out of the hospital, Ben sees a news report of a brawl between pro-registration and anti-registration metahumans. Some of the metahumans along with some civilians have been taken to a hospital with injuries. Several square blocks have been destroyed. Plus, there are protestors and rioters at the scene.
We then cut to the brawl. Ms. Marvel and Silverman are locked in combat. The Thing arrives on the scene. Ms. Marvel thanks Ben for arriving and asks for his help. The Thing just turns around and walks over to the riot police. The head officer tells Ben that every time they go in to pick up a non-registered hero that Iron Man’s team captures they get hit with bricks by the protestors. The officer says that the protestors are a bother and are disrespectful of the government. The Thing says that just because someone disagrees with something that is being done doesn’t make them any less of a patriot. If they have a problem then maybe they should listen to them. (Oh c’mon! I get it JMS. Move the hell on.) Ben then goes in to talk to the protestors.
Ben knows the protestors. They are the residents of Yancy Street and the surrounding area. The protestors say that they are protecting their street heroes like Daredevil. That the Registration Act is wrong and that they are willing to fight the police to save their heroes. The Thing is unable to think of a reason to support the Act or to not fight against the police other than the Registration Act is the law. The Thing says that he doesn’t want to fight the government, but he also doesn’t like the law. (Wow. Very balanced handling of both sides.) The locals ask The Thing if he is going to pick a side. The Thing responds that he is thinking.
We then shift to the Thinker and Puppet Master scheming to attack a bus full of captured super heroes from the anti-registration side. They plan to eliminate a large chunk of these heroes before they can work out their differences.
We then cut back to Oklahoma. There is still a long line of men waiting to try their turn to lift Thor’s hammer. A man in a trench coat with a duffle bag cuts the line and grabs the hammer. A massive column of energy comes pouring down around where the hammer was. The column reaches all the way up into the heavens. We see the initials “DB” on the mysterious man’s duffle bag. (Oh hell, yeah! Donald Blake is back! And so is the mighty Thor!) End of issue.
The Good: Wow! If it wasn’t for that awesome ending, I would have really hated this issue. I loved the ending. The return of Donald Blake is so cool. That is my favorite version of Thor and the one that I grew up with. I cannot wait to finally see Thor once again. This is going to be awesome! This final scene was the only thing in this entire issue that got my interest and made me excited.
I do like that Sue and Reed are in a serious disagreement over helping Tony Stark fight and arrest all of their friends who oppose the Registration Act. This couple needs a little drama and conflict to spice up their relationship.
I also like how JMS wrote the Thing in this issue. Very nice job.
I thought the plotline with the Thinker and the Puppet Master was neat. It only makes sense that the villains would take advantage of this Civil War and strike at the heroes.
McKone’s art is average. It doesn’t move me one way or the other. It neither adds nor detracts from the story.
The Bad: Take away the ending and you are stuck with one pathetic excuse for a comic book. This story was boring, uninteresting and preachy. Not exactly the goal that Marvel had in mind.
Once again, Marvel shows that it never had any intention of presenting the pro-registration side and the anti-registration side equally. It is painfully obvious that we are supposed to root for the anti-registration side and view the pro-registration side as Bush supporting baby killers who worship the devil. That just doesn’t work for me. I think that this storyline would be vastly more interesting if the writers took the time and effort to make both sides look like the heroes. That would make the story so much more complex and compelling. The reader would be truly torn on which side to support.
However, Marvel is making it easy for us to view the pro-registration side as the villains and the anti-registration side as the right thinking protectors of the Constitution and our democracy. That is so lame. During this Civil War storyline, Straczynski, Bendis and Jenkins have all demonstrated their inability to step outside their own politics and write an interesting and entertaining storyline. Instead, these writers are using Civil War to unload their post 9/11 commentary on the reader. I could care less. If I want to get preached to then I’ll go to my iglesia and let my padre preach to me. I certainly don’t need to be preached to while reading a comic book.
JMS just continues to pound the reader over the head with the typical post 9/11 position that dissenters are patriots and that democracy is about disagreeing. I am still at a total loss at how the events of Civil War can even remotely be connected with 9/11 and the resulting Patriot Act. There is just no comparison whatsoever. Political commentary is one thing. But, misplaced political commentary is just annoying and uneducated. Civil War can be immensely entertaining. Look at what Millar did in Civil War #1 and #2. On the other hand, Civil War can be very uninteresting. Look at Bendis, Jenkins and JMS on their titles.
Also, other than the great ending, absolutely nothing happened in this issue. No plotlines were advanced. Again, excluding the ending, this was pretty much a waste of an issue.
Overall: Straczynski really unimpressed me with Fantastic Four #538. It was boring and uninteresting. However, the ending was cool. Hopefully, next issue will be better if it centers more on the return of Thor.
Amazing Spider-Man #533 is a Civil War tie-in. Normally, I don’t enjoy tie-in issues with a major mini-series. However, this issue is an exception to that rule. Spider-Man has been such a central character in the Civil War storyline that it makes sense to tie-in his solo title with Civil War. Plus, I have really been enjoying Civil War so I don’t mind any tie-in issues. Unlike that pathetic House of M. I hated the tie-ins to that mini-series. Anyway, let’s go to the review.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Ron Garney
Inker: Bill Reinhold
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: This issue starts with J. Jonah Jameson still soaking in the news. J.J. said that despite everything that he always thought of Peter as a son. That Peter was the last honest man in New York City. But, Peter is nothing but a liar and was probably laughing behind J.J.’s back. Jameson says that since they have vouched for Peter’s photos over the years that they will have to make some kind of statement. Jameson says that their competitors are going to have a field day with this. J.J. says that over the years Spider-Man may have annoyed him, embarrassed him and infuriated him, but Peter is the person who has finally succeeded in actually hurting him. And that there is a hell of a price for that. (Wow. Nice scene. And what an enemy J.J. is going to be now. Even worse than before.)
We cut to Peter throwing up over having just revealed his identity. Tony Stark tells Peter that he did the right thing. Peter then tells Tony that if anything happens to him to promise that he will take care of MJ and Aunt May. Tony agrees. Peter then tells Tony that if anything bad happens to MJ or Aunt May and Peter is still alive then Tony is going to be in trouble with him. Tony then tells Peter to go home to his family.
Peter steps outside the building to get to his limo and is greeted by numerous protestors yelling and shouting at him. Once in the limo, Peter calls MJ and she tells him how proud she and Aunt May are of him. Peter then gets a call on the limo’s phone from Reed Richards. Also on the line is Sue Richards. Reed commends Peter on his press conference and tells Peter that he can come to him for anything. Peter then gets stuck in the middle of the two phone calls going back and forth and ends up webbing the two phones together and ignoring both parties. (This is actually a pretty funny scene.)
We shift to Peter Parker exiting his airplane. He is greeted by an attorney for the Daily Bugle who is suing Peter for misrepresentation, fraud, breach of contract and several other charges. They are seeking damages of no less than $5 million.
We then cut to Peter walking from his limo to the Avengers Tower. There are tons of reporters and TV crews camped out around the Tower. We see Flash Thompson watching it all on news. Flash doesn’t believe it and thinks that Spider-Man has staged it all to throw off his enemies.
We then cut to Eddie Brock and the Culture watching the same newscast with the Vulture commenting that this is going to cause Peter problems. The newscast comments how this is going to impact Spider-Man now that all his enemies know his identity.
We slip over to Peter and MJ have a private moment when they are interrupted by Aunt May. May tells Peter to come watch Tony Stark’s press conference. Tony addresses the super heroes who have failed to sign the Registration forms. That the deadline has passed and that they will be hunted down, arrested and imprisoned without exception. Tony states that he will use whatever means necessary to apprehend these super heroes. Tony says that he has a strike team consisting of Henry Pym, (Wait, didn’t Bendis write in New Avengers #21 that Pym has refused to fight his friends?) Reed Richards and Spider-Man. Peter freaks out when he hears this. He and MJ sneak out the back of the Avengers Tower to get some fresh air. Peter has no desire to lock horns with friends like Captain America. Suddenly, the press spies Peter and they descend on him with cameras rolling and flashes popping. A crazy man wearing a Captain America T-shirt yells that he is Captain America’s biggest fan and that Spider-Man is a traitor. The man pulls a gun on Peter. Peter webs up the gun and it explodes in the man’s hand.
We then shift to Spider-Man meeting with Iron Man on the roof of the Tower. Spider-Man yells at Iron Man for not telling him first about using his name in connection with the new strike force. Iron Man apologizes and then they both enter the building to meet their new strike force. We end with a one page splash shot of Iron Man’s team consisting of Atlas, Doc Samson, Wasp, Yellow Jacket, She-Hulk, Thing, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel and a bunch of other heroes I don’t recognize off hand. End of issue.
The Good: This was a well done issue. I loved the beginning scene with J. Jonah Jameson. That was played perfectly. Jameson’s reaction was excellent. I liked that J.J. admitted how highly he thought of Peter. You knew that no matter how gruff J.J. was to Peter that he always had a soft spot in his heart for Peter. J.J. actually admitting that Peter has hurt him was a surprise. J.J. is not a character that ever shows weakness like that. I also like how by the end of the scene J.J. had been transformed from just a minor annoyance to Spider-Man into a very serious threat to Peter Parker personally. The Bugle’s lawsuit was no surprise. I’m interested to see what JMS does with J.J. in the upcoming issues.
I enjoyed the limo ride where Peter has phone conversations with Aunt May and MJ on one phone and Sue and Reed Richards on the other phone. JMS does a fantastic job with the dialogue in this scene. Not only was this scene hilarious, but it was also well needed. This comic book has been very dark and somber and it desperately needs funny scenes to lighten the mood and keep it from being too overwhelmingly dark.
Of course, you knew that villains like the Vulture were going to see the news and immediately start thinking of ways to attack Peter and to hurt him. There is no way that it doesn’t become open season on Peter Parker.
The scene with the crazy Captain America fan also shows that Peter’s life is pretty much in total chaos now that his identity is public. I think that this type of incident will continue to happen. There is absolutely no way that Peter and his loved ones can have anything resembling a normal life.
I think that JMS did a nice job writing Amazing Spider-Man #533. JMS delivered some strong dialogue. The dialogue is entertaining and has a nice natural flow. Plus, I like the way that JMS writes Peter.
I think that JMS is doing a very good job of showing the impact of Peter going public on his personal life and his family members. Basically, the media is going to stalk him wherever he goes. His villains are going to be gunning for him and his family. Plus, you have to throw in your random crazy people who are going to try and hurt him and his family. This decision has so many far reaching and complex effects on Peter and his family. JMS really gives the reader a feeling of how overwhelming all of this is for Peter. Personally, I don’t think that this storyline makes any sense given Peter’s past. I think that Marvel is forcing a square peg in a round hole with this storyline. However, JMS has done a fantastic job fleshing out the results of Peter going public.
Amazing Spider-Man #533 is basically covering the gap between Civil War #1 and #2, but it is doing it in a much more interesting and engaging manner than done in New Avengers #21. I am enjoying Peter’s transformation that is taking place during Civil War. And it isn’t done yet. You know that Peter has to end up switching sides at some point.
The Bad: I still don’t buy that Peter would ever reveal his secret identity. There is absolutely nothing at all in Spider-Man’s history that would indicate he would do this. Nor is there anything in Spider-Man’s personality since the first Spider-Man comic that would suggest he would support the pro-registration side over the anti-registration side. Marvel just desperately wanted to do something controversial so they shoehorned in this plotline without thinking if it made any sense with Spider-Man’s character and history.
Also, the lawsuits and constant threats to Peter and his family show that it makes zero sense for him ever to reveal his secret identity. The problem is that now there is practically no way Peter can return to being an “everyman” living a normal life in some average apartment in some average area. Peter pretty much is a celebrity like the Fantastic Four and is going to have to live in some high end Tower like the Fantastic Four for security purposes. And that simply is not Spider-Man. Marvel has really painted themselves into a corner. It will be practically impossible to return Spider-Man back to what he was prior to revealing his secret identity.
Also, I think that JMS made Peter look a little dumb with how shocked he was by everything. He really should have known this was coming. Of course, thinking something versus actually experiencing it are two different things.
I also dislike the lack of consistency between the titles. In the end of Civil War #1, Hank Pym looks menacing and spoiling for a fight with the anti-registration people. In this issue, Hank Pym is on the strike force designed to take out these rogue heroes. But, Bendis writes Pym as a half-hearted follower of the pro-registration side who has stated that he won’t fight his friends. So, which is it?
I’m also not a big fan of Ron Garney. His style does nothing for me. It is sketchy, hurried and simplistic. It doesn’t make for an appealing comic book to look at.
Overall: Even though I strongly disagree with Marvel’s move to publicly out Spider-Man, I think that JMS wrote a very strong and entertaining issue. I thought that Amazing Spider-Man #533 was an enjoyable read. I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue.
Marvel is pimping New Avengers #21 as “Avengers Disassembled Book 1.” Oh wow, never seen that before. Marvel also puts on their website that “You think Marvel would never screw with their top selling book? Wrong!! The Avengers are about to go to war over their beliefs and the shake up will shock you.” Um, no, I totally think that Marvel would screw with the Avengers. Why they did it less than two years ago. And this new story arc is going to have a shake up that will “shock” me? More than making Scarlet Witch and insane murderer who then kills Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Vision and the Jack of Hearts? Um, nope. I don’t think anything could shock me more than that. Thanks, Marvel! And thank you, Bendis! Seriously, how many times does Bendis feel he needs to “disassemble” the Avengers? Once every year or two? Anyway, let’s go to the review.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Howard Chaykin
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: This issue starts with Captain America trying to clear his mind and focus on just drawing. To forget about everything that is going on with the events of Civil War. To forget all about his past. To forget about all the political drama and state of affairs in America that have paved the way for the passage of the Super Hero Registration Act. To forget that he is now a war criminal.
While deep in thought, Captain America is suddenly surrounded by a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents designed to hunt down rogue super heroes. And it is official! We have a braaaaawwwl! Captain America opens up a huge can of whoop ass on the S.H.I.E.L.D. hero hunting soldiers. The last standing soldier takes off his helmet and reveals himself. It is Dum Dum Dugan! Dum Dum tells Captain America to take him out or he will arrest Cap. Captain America knocks Dum Dum out and then mimics his voice and radios S.H.I.E.L.D. telling them that Captain America is dead and for them to stay put until they finish sweeping the area. Then Captain America make his escape through the sewer system.
We then shift to Captain America waking up in a secret hideout with the Falcon next to him. Captain America questions the Falcon to make sure it really is him. The Falcon tells Cap that he didn’t sign the Registration form. The Falcon says that he will stand by Captain America’s side and fight against Iron Man’s pro-registration side. Captain America then tells Falcon that they need to go put a team together.
We cut to Captain America and Falcon on a roof top across from the Sentry’s Tower and they see Spider-Man web slinging his was over to the Tower. The Falcon is surprised that Spider-Man would side with Iron Man and the pro-registration side. Suddenly we hear gunshots and Captain America and Falcon go to stop the crime.
We shift to Dr. Henry Pym’s office. Pym is watching the new report of Captain America and the Falcon stopping a crime and then running away from the police. Suddenly, Captain America and the Falcon enter through Pym’s window. Captain America asks Hank to join his side. Pym says that he signed the Registration form and then he sides with Tony Stark. Pym then tries to convince Captain America to stop opposing them and to join them.
Captain America is unhappy by Pym’s decision and when he tries to leave, Pym grows into Giant Man size and tries to stop Captain America and Falcon. Captain America threatens Pym to get out of their way or he will be in for a world of hurt. Hank says that he told them that he would not fight Cap and that Pym said he would just hold Captain America and Falcon here until they could get here. Suddenly, S.H.I.E.L.D. hero hunting soldiers appear outside the window. Captain America nails Pym in the nose with his shield and he and Falcon make their escape.
Maria Hill and more agents burst through the door of Pym’s lab. Hill gives her soldiers permission to follow and engage Captain America. We then see Captain America and the Falcon hiding under a water tower while the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers go flying by. Falcon asks Captain America who is next. Our answer is the teaser for next issue: Luke Cage.
The Good: New Avengers #21 was ok, but that is about it. There wasn’t much that really impressed me with this issue. I did absolutely love the fight scene in the beginning between Captain America and all the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers. It is always fun to watch Captain America kick ass. And Maria Hill sending Dum Dum on this mission was a great way to show how dirty Hill is fighting against Captain America. Not only does she want Cap caught, but she wants him to suffer in the process.
That is about it as far as what I thought was really enjoyable with this issue. I think that Bendis does a decent job writing Captain America. Millar and Brubaker definitely do a much better job writing Captain America, but Bendis turns in a respectable Captain America. He definitely got the ass-kicking part of Captain America down pretty well with this issue. And the line where Cap tells Pym about the difference between wartime battle and the kind super heroes do and for Pym to stand down or he will find out the difference was pretty cool. Bendis managed to get across Cap’s willingness to crack skulls of even his friends if they should get in his way.
It is no surprise that the first person to join up with Captain America is the Falcon. Whenever Cap is in real trouble it seems that Sam is always there to help him. I was a bit surprised that after Spider-Man, Captain America’s next choice was Hank Pym. I think Pym has been one of the most mismanaged characters in the history of the Avengers. It was nice to see that despite his troubles past, that Captain America clearly thinks very highly of Pym. And Pym’s bitter reacting to Maria Hill telling him that he did a good job was nice to see. Pym is definitely not thrilled about having to fight his friends. This scene did a good job showing the terrible and painful divide that the Registration Act is causing between the Avengers.
The Bad: New Avengers #21 basically just fills in the gap between Civil War #1 and Civil War #2. That is a bit of a disappointment. I really didn’t need to see how Captain America assembled his little band of warriors. I thought the members of Captain America’s team in Civil War #2 was pretty obvious and had no surprise members. I’m not too sure if we really need to spend several issues on him gather the obvious heroes that will side with his view of the Registration Act.
Overall, New Avengers #21 was just underwhelming. It wasn’t all that exciting and nothing new happened. It had a ton of re-hashing of the debate about the Registration Act that we have read ad-naseum in Amazing Spider-Man, the Illuminati, Civil War and Civil War: Frontline. It feels like I’m trapped in a mobius strip and I keep reading the same stuff over and over.
I also am unimpressed with the fact that, for the most part, Marvel has failed miserably to be fair and balanced in their presentation of both the pro and anti sides. After reading Jenkins on Civil War: Frontline and Bendis on this title, it is painfully obvious that Marvel wants us to view the pro side as the good guys and the anti side as the bad guys. Honestly, Millar is the only writer that has come close to even trying to show both sides in some type of fair and equal light. And that is impressive since usually I have found that Miller has a problem letting him ultra-liberal views color his storylines. Bendis definitely wants us to be on the side of the anti-registration side. There is little to no doubt about that.
I’m also not really sure I like how Bendis writes the Falcon. Maybe I’m wrong, but The Falcon’s dialogue read more like Luke Cage’s dialogue. Maybe Bendis thinks that every black character has to speak in this style of dialogue. I don’t know. I just think that it would be nice if Bendis could write Cage and Sam differently. Because, right now, they are reading as if they are the same character. Or maybe that is just me. Maybe it is because I have the Ultimate version of Sam Wilson fresh in my mind from Ultimate Extinction.
While I liked part of Bendis’ Captain America, I wasn’t really thrilled with how bleeding heart Bendis wrote him. Plus, he seemed a bit weak in mind and spirit. I like a more stoic and strong Captain America who attacks ever challenge like a true soldier. This version of Captain America is more of that bleeding heart sensitive version of Captain America that I have never liked.
I’m also not sold that Captain America would go against his government after such a terrible tragedy. This is the ultimate “good soldier” from the 1940’s. I think it would be more likely that Captain America would support his government and then try and find a way to change things from the inside.
Personally, I just didn’t dig the art in this issue. I’m just not a fan of Howard Chaykin’s style. It is as simple as that. If you like Chaykin’s artwork then enjoy.
Overall: I found New Avengers #21 to be flat and rather uninspiring. Nothing new happened in this issue. It wasn’t particularly interesting. I didn’t find the dialogue to be enthralling. Bendis continues to un-impress me on the Avengers. Hopefully, the next issue will be more exciting. I still can’t recommend the New Avengers to anyone.
52 is always a great read. DC has done a fantastic job on this title. 52 is the first comic that I read each week. I’m like a crack addict when it comes to this comic book. I have no doubt that 52 #8 will be a great issue. I have already had several mugs of Café Bustelo, so I’m all jacked up and ready for this review.
Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid
Layouts: Keith Giffen
Penciler: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Rob Stull
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: Week 8, Day 1: Natasha is busy working on her armor. Since Steel won’t build armor for her and he won’t let her get Luthor’s gene therapy to get real powers, Natasha is determined to make her own armor and prove her worth. Steel then goes upstairs to watch TV. Suddenly, his chest starts smoldering and burning and then transforms into steel.
We then shift over to Star City where Green Arrow has met up with Elongated Man. Green Arrow bemoans the fact that Star City is in complete ruins due to the battle in Infinite Crisis. Ralph is meeting with Ollie because Ralph tracked down the Cult of Conner to a warehouse in Star City. The two find the warehouse and then enter it. They see the shrine to Conner, but the place is empty. They cult once again left before they could be discovered. Green Arrow asks what their belief is and Ralph responds that they think the dead can be resurrected. And with that Ralph gets an odd look on his face as he stares at Ollie.
Week 8, Day 3: We are over at S.T.A.R. labs where Steel is getting samples of his blood taken to try and determine the roots of his new powers. After analyzing the composition of the metal, it is determined that Steel is literally turning into steel. Steel then says that this is Lex Luthor’s idea of a joke. That when he met with Steel at S.T.A.R. labs a couple of issues ago when Steel was performing an autopsy on the fake Lex Luthor, that Luthor must have injected him when they posed for the cameras. Steel says that this means that Luthor can tailor the results of his metagene therapy. Steel says that Luthor’s program is designed so that he can control a group of supermen. Suddenly the machine running tests on Steel’s blood explodes and destroys the samples.
We then cut to various eye witnesses to a new superhero (Super Nova) talking about how this hero saved them from various dangers and disasters. We then see Booster Gold ranting to Clark Kent in an interview. Booster says that he has been smeared and rejected by Metropolis while, at the same time, everyone is embracing this new super hero. Clark mentions that he is going to find out the identity of this new hero.
We then shift back to Steelworks. S.T.A.R. labs calls and Natasha answers the phone. The scientist tells Natasha to give Steel a message. That the tests confirm that it is the Luthor metagene that is rewriting his DNA. Natasha hangs up the phone with a pissed off look on her face. She then sees a flier for LexCorp’s metagene project. Natasha mutters that Steel is a hypocrite. (Oh man. It is like a "Three's Company" episode where we have a wacky misunderstanding that causes a huge problem! Does that make Steel Mr. Furley or Jack Tripper?)
Week 8, Day 5: Once again, Natasha is hard at work late into the night trying to finish her armor. A spark hits right in between her breast (That’s the money shot, baby!) and burns her causing her to trip and dump her armor onto the floor. Her armor is damaged. Steel enters to see if Natasha is ok. Natasha freaks on Steel. She says that he told her she had to earn her powers because they are earned and not given. Natasha throws her faceplate at Steel and his arms instinctively turn into steel to block it. Natasha shoves the LexCorp metagene program flier into Steel’s face and asks him if her earned his powers. Before Steel can explain, Natasha storms out of the basement yelling that Steel is a liar.
We then cut to our heroes lost in space. Animal Man and Adam are flying around in the night sky searching for Starfire. Suddenly, they see her unconscious and trapped in a net hanging high in the sky. Suddenly, Animal Man and Adam get caught in a similar net. We then see the cosmic armored giant holding the other end of the net in his hand.
Week 8, Day 7: We see a rowdy mob outside LexCorp all desiring to be picked for Luthor’s metagene therapy program. Lex croons that these people are all his slaves. He then sees Natasha arguing with a guard. Lex recognizes Natasha and asks her what her uncle would think of her applying for his program. Natasha says that her uncle can go to hell. (Awww, Natasha is so cute when she is mad!) Lex then congratulates Natasha and tells her that she is the first candidate of the day. Lex asks her who she really wants to be.
We then get a one page splash shot of Natasha bound and gagged into some type of bizarre machine. Lex tells his scientist to skip the regular screenings (uh oh. That doesn’t sound good.) and to give Natasha the entire package. End of story.
This issue has a 4 page History of the DCU backup story. It basically goes through the events from the end of Zero Hour up until the very beginning of Identity Crisis. End of story.
The Good: 52 #8 was a great issue. The writers are doing a fantastic job and really turned up the heat with this issue. I enjoyed the Steel storyline. It is incredible how the writers have taken two characters in Natasha and Steel that I didn’t care about before and turned them into characters that I enjoy and give them a storyline that I find rather compelling.
I like the clash between the headstrong rebellious youth versus the steady experienced man of knowledge. The fact that the writers built up this belief that Steel has that powers are “earned not given” and then they turn it on its head is great! It is understandable that Natasha would think that her uncle is a total and complete hypocrite.
The scene where Steel reveals that Luthor must have injected him with his metagene therapy was nice bomb to drop on the reader. It is nice to see the writers laying the foundation early for storylines that pop up at a later date. At first, I though that scene was kind of odd, but now it makes much more sense. This is a great plotline and I am excited to see where the writers go with it.
I liked seeing Natasha struggle and work so hard. This issue does a nice job showing Natasha’s grit and spirit. It is much different than the spoiled brat from the first couple of issues.
Obviously, the big hook was at the end where we see Natasha at LexCorp and being chosen by Luthor to get the metagene therapy treatment. The final shot was a good ending. Luthor eschews the normal regular screenings. This has got to cause a massive problem with Natasha’s powers at some point in the future. Plus, this plotline is going to really ratchet up the guilt that Steel is going to feel. He will be mad with Natasha undergoing the treatment in the first place. But, if and when, things go wrong with Natasha, Steel will certainly blame himself. Lex is such a devil. I love him.
The scene with Green Arrow and Ralph gave us a better image of the massive destruction done to Star City as a result of Infinite Crisis. Now, it makes sense that Ollie would feel the need to become mayor of Star City. We didn’t learn anything new about the Cult of Conner, but something important finally dawned on Ralph. That Ollie is a result of resurrection and maybe he holds a clue on resurrecting Sue. I’m surprised it took the World’s second best detective this long to figure that out.
And I liked the scenes that teased us with the appearance of Super Nova. Booster reacted angrily to this new hero stealing his spotlight and the hearts of everyone in Metropolis. I’m interested to join Clark on his journey to discover just who is Super Nova. I really hope this is Mon-El, but I’m probably wrong.
We didn’t spend much time on our heroes stranded in space. This cosmic armored giant now has all three of our heroes captured. I am very curious to find out more about this plotline.
It just amazes me how the writers have continued to make 52 a fantastic read. Every issue has been great. I love the pacing. I love the structure. Everything is so well plotted and planned. The stories are organically evolving building off prior clues and plotlines. I am really impressed how tight 52 is and how focused the various storylines are.
The writers also weaved some solid dialogue. The fighting between Steel and Natasha was perfect. Each character is so well developed and has their own unique voice.
But, most important of all, 52 is a total page turner that hook the reader at the end and leaves them eager for the next issue. That is a sign of a well done comic book.
The art is solid. Nothing great, but not bad. Basically, the art does what it needs to and doesn’t get in the way of a very strong story.
The Bad: No complaints with the main story. I still feel that the History of the DC Universe has been a waste of four pages that could be used by a much more entertaining 52 story.
Overall: 52 #8 is a great read. DC deserves a lot of credit for doing an excellent job on 52 which is quite a daunting task. I feel that DC really whiffed on Infinite Crisis. However, they are making up for it with 52. No, 52 is going to make sweeping changes to DC’s continuity and history. 52 is simply a very exciting and quite enjoyable comic book. I definitely recommend this comic book to anyone.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I thought that Shadowpact #1 was a pretty solid issue. Hopefully, Shadowpact #2 will build off a nice first issue and earn a place on the Revolution’s permanent pull list. While we are in between World Cup games, let’s crank out a quick review.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciler: Bill Willingham
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: The issue starts with the Phantom Stranger saying that it has been a year since the Shadowpact entered the blood barrier and they still have no idea if they are alive or not.
We then cut to one year ago. Night Shade is brawling with Sister Shadow. We then shift to Strega telling Jack of Fire that there are intruders from outside the blood barrier. Strega says she has planted a compulsion inside the mind of their leader that the best strategic move is to scatter his team. Strega then tells Jack for him and the other members to hunt down the intruders one by one. Strega tells Jack that they cannot kill the intruders since that might ruin her complex spell.
We shift to Blue Devil telling Detective Chimp that Nightmaster had the right idea to split up the team. Detective Chimp disagrees. Blue Devil retorts that he would follow Nightmaster’s judgment and experience over Detective Chimp’s any day of the week. The two heroes then walk in separate directions.
We hop back to Night Shade and Sister Shadow brawling up in the sky. We then shift over to Ragman brawling with Bagman. Bagman ingests Ragman and tells him that he will suffocate long before Bagman digests him.
We then cut to Nightmaster having a sword fight with the White Rabbit.
We then shift to Blue Devil locking horns with Jack. Jack asks Blue Devil if he recognizes his big brother. Jack says that when Blue Devil made his infernal deal, that it applied to the rest of his family, too. That Blue Devil’s sister is also grotesque. That their parents were taken out of Heaven and are not burning in Hell. Blue Devil responds that he doesn’t have a brother. Jack continues to just beat the tar out of Blue Devil.
We then see Karnevil knocking out Detective Chimp.
We then cut to Sister Shadow finally taking out Night Shade.
We then shift over to the White Rabbit defeating Nightmaster.
We then cut to Jack carrying an unconscious Blue Devil over his shoulder and reprimanding Bagman for trying to digest Ragman since Strega told them no killing. Unhappily, Bagman regurgitates Ragman.
We then zip over to Strega battling it out with Enchantress. Strega makes short work of Enchantress and captures her. Strega then says that she should be ready tomorrow to begin making sacrifices in order to bring the Lord of Light into their realm.
We then cut to Strega meeting with the rest of the members of Pentacle. She creates a magical box that will keep Shadowpact powerless and secure for as long as they need. Strega then tells Jack and Sister Shadow to go collect the first sacrifice and bring her to the murder hole.
We see Jack and Sister Shadow at the house of the first sacrifice: Jessica Wallace. Jessica’s grandfather offers to go in her place. Sister Shadow says that it has to be Jessica. She continues that if the grandfather tries to stop them then they will send Karnevil over to kill the entire family and all of their friends and then collect Jessica for the sacrifice. The grandfather goes to get Jessica. Sister Shadow then asks Jack where Karnevil is. Jack says he must be looking for the final member of Shadowpact.
We then shift to Karnevil sitting next to Detective Chimp who is gagged and bound to a pole. Karnevil has a rusty claw hammer, a broken screwdriver, screws, nails and half of a hacksaw blade. Karnevil says that these were the best tools that he could gather without disturbing the locals. But, that they will still do. Karnevil then asks Detective Chimp if he is ready to start their fun. (Creepy little bastard.) End of issue.
The Good: This was another pretty solid issue. Shadowpact #2 was basically a bunch of mini-fight scenes resulting in the Shadowpact members getting captured and furthering Strega’s plan to bring back the Lord of Light. The fight scenes were rather quick and one sided. Normally, I’d have a problem with that, but not in this issue. Willingham is trying to set the table for this story arc quickly and needs to place Shadowpact in a hopeless situation in order to get going with the Pentacle’s evil plans and the heroic escape of the Shadowpact members.
I liked the scene between Blue Devil and Detective Chimp. It shows that not all the members of Shadowpact see eye to eye. Plus, any scene with Detective Chimp is going to involve some great dialogue.
The scene that shocked me the most was the fight between Jack of Fire and Blue Devil. Jack drops a huge bomb by telling Blue Devil that they are brothers. Then he drops another bomb by saying that Blue Devil’s infernal deal also applied to their sister and parents as well. This was very unexpected and quite interesting. Blue Devil claims he doesn’t even have a brother. I cannot wait to see where Willingham goes with this storyline.
I liked the final scene with the grandfather of the first sacrificial victim. This scene did a nice job showing how totally helpless these unfortunate locals are. That sometimes, there are things that are so beyond your control that there is nothing at all you can do about it. It creates a very frustrating feeling inside the reader.
I am enjoying the members of Pentacle. For the most part, they are all very interesting. The only member that doesn’t particularly interest me would be Sister Shadow. However, the rest of them are a bunch of unique and odd characters. Willingham is going to have fun with this odd bunch of villains. Willingham has already done a good job fleshing out Bagman, Karnevil, Strega and Jack of Fire. Hopefully, we will see more development in the White Rabbit and Sister Shadow. I like Jack and Karnevil the most. Jack has a great design and simply looks cool. Karnevil is just one seriously creepy little bastard. I like that the sickest and most warped member of Pentacle isn’t some bad-assed demon or something like that. Instead it is an evil boy scout. Perfect. Willingham needs to keep giving us plenty more of Karnevil!
Willingham is working with some of the most unique characters in the DC universe. That is also a big part of Shadowpact’s charm. Willingham is doing an excellent job developing each character and giving them their own unique voices. The only characters that haven’t gotten much development or distinctive personalities would be Night Shade, Enchantress, Ragman, Sister Shadow and White Rabbit.
Willingham is moving this story along at a decent pace. Willingham delivers some pretty funny dialogue at certain points. This is one reason why Shadowpact is such a fun read. The banter between the villains and the banter between the members of Shadowpact are entertaining. The humorous dialogue along with strong character development are the two strongest features of Willingham’s writing.
The artwork is good, not great. Willingham draws an excellent Jack of Fire. The art is strong enough and nice enough to make Shadowpact a good looking book.
The Bad: I think that Shadowpact went down way too fast and easy. I know Willingham had to get this story moving and that there was no other way to do it other than to have Shadowpact collapse quickly. However, it was still just a bit too much of a walk in the park for the bad guys.
Shadowpact #2 was simply missing something. I'm not too sure, but this issue lacked some "pop." This issue was not as exciting at Shadowpact #1. I feel like I really want to love this title more than I do. I think the characters are neat and this title has so much potential that I want Shadowpact to impress me like I know it can. Unfortunately, this title hasn't really done that.
My only complaint with the artwork is a lack of consistency. Some panels looks fantastic like when Jack is pounding on Blue Devil. Other panels look a little weak like the close up panel shot of Night Shade. If Willingham’s artwork was more even from panel to panel then I would enjoy his art a lot more.
Overall: Shadowpact #2 was a fun read. I like all of the odd characters and Willingham keeps the dialogue flowing to make this a quick read. Shadowpact #1 was a quick introduction to each character for new readers and some set up. Shadowpact #2 has been laying the foundation and set up for this story arc. I would expect that Shadowpact #3 and #4 are going to be a lot more interesting. I hope so, because Shadowpact #2 didn't do anything to get me to bump this title on to the Revolution's permanent pull list.
If you want a standard fight filled super hero comic book, then you probably won’t enjoy Shadowpact. However, if you like comic books that are a little off beat and full of odd characters then Shadowpact is definitely for you.
52 Week #8
Action Comics #840
DCU Brave New World #1
Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #19
Amazing Spider-Man #533
Fantastic Four #538
Moon Knight #3
New Avengers #21
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #6
Ultimate Spider-Man #96
Looks like we have another big week in store for the Revolution. So many good titles this week! Over in DC, I’m most looking forward to 52 #8. 52 has been a pleasure to read and issue #7 really kicked this story up a notch. Over in Marvel, I’m most looking forward to Moon Knight #3. I have loved this new series from the very beginning.
What am I least looking forward to? In DC, that is soooo easy. Supergirl and the high jacking of the Legion of Super Heroes #19. I just can’t wait to see what underwhelming issue DC is going to push off on us this week! Hopefully, DC will finally showcase Supergirl a little on this title. She just hasn’t gotten enough attention. Supergirl really is an underutilized character.
You know, DC should really look into turning other titles totally unrelated to Supergirl into ads shilling Supergirl's title. That would be a great idea! Oh wait, they already did that with Superman/Batman #27. Thanks, DC! You read my mind!
Over in Marvel, it would be X-Men #187. Mercifully, Milligan’s run comes to an end with this issue. Mike Carey is taking over the writing duties for X-Men with issue #188. I know nothing about Carey and I have not read anything that he has written. At least, nothing that I remember. So, let’s hope Mike Carey can deliver a quality read for this title.
Posted by Rokk Krinn at 9:28 AM
Monday, June 26, 2006
Uncanny X-Men has been a total train wreck for quite some time. I honestly can’t remember the last time I thought that this title was a good read. I think this current story arc is just brutal to read. Luckily, this is the last issue of this story arc and Brubaker takes over Uncanny X-Men with the next issue. I usually do a long detailed synopsis and review, but a new creative team is taking over next issue and, honestly, Uncanny X-Men #474 doesn’t deserve a detailed review. Let’s hit it.
Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciler: Roger Cruiz
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: All right, put on your tracks shoes; because this is gonna be fast. The issue starts with the Foursaken introducing Pyslocke to his utopian society.
We then cut to a flashback of how Jamie Braddock and his buddies met the Foursaken and had their powers awoken. The X-Men start arguing with Jamie’s pack of friends and they are about to brawl when they all realize that their powers don’t work anymore. Jamie says that they are in a Utopia where there is eternal peace so no one can use their powers to fight.
Psylocke and the Foursaken join the rest of the X-Men and Jamie’s crew. Psylocke then notices that there are no more than 4 people from each species in this Utopia. The Foursaken says that he simply picks 4 individuals from each planet that he comes into contact with to live in his Utopia. The rest of the populations of each planet are killed.
With that Psylocke attacks the Foursaken and we have a braaaaawwl! During the brawl, Psylocke injures the Foursaken which allows the X-Men to get their powers back. We then learn the origin of the Foursaken. That he was a king of a planet who prayed to preserve the glory of his people. His prayer was answered by the essence of endless changeless perfection and he became the Foursaken. Jamie uses his powers to send the X-Men and his friends back to Earth. Jamie stays behind to seal the portal so the Foursaken cannot get to Earth.
We then cut to the X-Men back on Earth as well as Jamie’s friends. The two groups part ways. Bishop then gets a phone call. It is Storm over in Africa. (Wow, we are finally going to resolve that boring and pointless storyline of Storm in Africa fighting to protect the powerless mutants over there.) Storm asks the X-Men to come help her stop some evil local warlord who is killing the mutants who were rendered powerless on M-Day. The issue ends with the message “Storm’s African adventure concludes and secrets are revealed in Uncanny X-Men Annual #1!" Oh boy! Notwithstanding the Revolution’s rule that all annuals are largely a waste of paper and ink, this storyline definately insures that I won’t waste my money on Uncanny X-Men Annual #1.
The Good: The only positive thing I can say about Uncanny X-Men #474 is that the “Psylocke guest starring the X-Men” which followed up the “Rachel Grey guest starring the X-Men storylines have mercifully come to an end. This past year of Uncanny X-Men has been just horrendous. The one page preview of Ed Brubaker and Billy Tan’s Uncanny X-Men is absolutely the best part of Uncanny X-Men #474.
The Bad: Uncanny X-Men #474 was as terrible as all the issue preceding it. This issue is practically unreadable. It is convoluted in a bad way. The storyline is uninteresting and the dialogue is stiff and boring. There really is absolutely nothing positive about the writing efforts turned in by Tony Bedard. I'm sure Tony Bedard is a fine gentleman. And the Revolution has a policy to never make personal attacks on any writer or artist. Having said that, Bedard's writing on this title has not impressed me. I don’t know if Bedard got saddled with a pad plotline from Chris Claremont and is only doing the best he could with a lousy plot. If that is the case, then I won’t blame Bedard for not being able to deliver a good story. I have not read anything else from Bedard, so I can’t fully comment on his writing talents. All I know is that Uncanny X-Men has been a terrible read for quite some time.
And what really gets me is that DC, being the totally inept on how to handle the Legion of Super Heroes, is bringing Bedard in to help co-write the Legion of Super Heroes with Mark Waid. Waid is obviously busy with 52 and needs a little support for several issues. That makes me less than happy. I don’t know how much of this current mess in Uncanny X-Men was due to Bedard or due to Claremont. Hopefully, Bedard does a better job on the Legion of Super Heroes than he did on this title. I know one thing that Bedard could do to make me instantly like him more: Get Supergirl out of the Legion.
I like to support mi hermanos, but the artwork was simply average. Everybody seems to have the same face. Plus, the art lacked consistency from panel to panel. The art also looked rushed and hurried.
Overall: Uncanny X-Men #474 was a fitting ending to a terrible storyline and a lousy run on this title. It has been a very long time since I thought that Uncanny X-Men was a quality comic book. It has been down for so long. I really hope that Brubaker can restore Uncanny X-Men back to its former glory that it had in the 1970’s and 80’s.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Rokk has already reviewed issues #3 and #4 and not to try to put words in his mouth, but has been unhappy with the direction the book has gone. I only post a second review of a comic he has reviewed when we are at considerable odds, so I don't waste your time or mine, but our take is different enough that I'm going to. And I'm going to break format and reply almost directly to his review, instead of writing one that is truly separate.
Synopsis and Credits: Can be found in the above linked reviews.
...I’m not even going to get into the utter garbage about how evil America is. Or how white people are responsible for all of the world’s evils. It is just so idiotic that it doesn’t deserve to be addressed. And I have absolutely no desire to read a comic based on blaming white people for everything. Or even about black/white relations. The world isn’t black and white. America isn’t black and white. It is brown, red, yellow, black and
My response: I'm not JMS, or his apologist, so I can't claim to know what he was thinking when he wrote these issues. Having seen his handiwork in both Babylon 5 and Rising Stars, I can claim to have spent a little time studying his approach. I'd offer three things to refute the above:
1. Very few characters, if any, are direct mouthpieces for the writer. His characters are, if nothing else, fully formed, and act and speak from their motivations, not the writers. Its obvious that most of the Squadron don't agree with African superteams feelings here. Whatever that teams motivations, however, the Squadron takes their threats seriously, and leave.
2. The original Squadron Supreme, at least the miniseries most folks refer back to, was about the Squadron Supreme taking over the county, ostensibly to make it better, but still they take control. Memory serving, they limit themselves to the United States, and other countries keep a wary eye on the Squadron to be sure they stay that way. JMS is not doing a direct update of the title, so the story will certainly not be exactly the same, but it certainly could be similar enough that the issue is addressed here.
3. Babylon 5 especially shows that JMS likes to build a lot of structure into his stories. Specifically, the first season of Babylon 5 has a lot of seemingly unrelated or unimportant details that in an almost subliminal fashion build the universe into a cohesive whole that make the drama, twists, character development and themes resonate more deeply than in a more serial story. The conflict with the African Superteam may not only be what I explained in point 2, but a catalyst that gets Hyperion thinking about going places other than where he is directed. Like he says in issue #4 "So instead of doing what one county wants us to do, and stopping where they tell us to stop --what if we just kept on going". (Maybe JMS will have the Squadron Supreme take over the world after all..)
To sum the lot of this up, politics, and race, will be brought up. It was part of the old series, and will be part of the new. JMS also has a track record of letting opposing viewpoints have their say, and not usually presenting a winner, so everyone is likely to read something that they disagree with. I believe it is done to provoke thought, not to preach.
...First, it was simply poorly written. Inertia’s father was one giant walking hackneyed stereotype. First, he is ultra religious. Clearly, ultra religious means being an evil intolerant narrow minded bastard. Second, he is also a horrid chauvinist. Third, he beats his wife. Fourth, despite being an outwardly highly religious person, he is cheating on his wife. My god! Could you possibly cram more cliched stereotypes into one character? It was just so over the top and heavy handed that I just laughed my way through that portion of the comic book. And I don’t think that JMS wanted the reader to be laughing while Inertia’s father is calling her sinful, pimp slapping his wife and cheating on her. But I did just because it was simply too much. And if that wasn’t enough, Inertia is raped by a bunch of her classmates! And her father blames her for it! C’mon. That is simply not even believable. It was all just too much....
While Inertia's father may be a stereotype, stereotypes are not created in a vacuum. I know, from both life experience and from police reports (if nothing ele) that there are certainly a small fraction of people in the world that can certainly live up to the stereotypes. That a too large percentage of women experience some form of non-consensual sex, especially in their youth. I know JMS does not equate ultra religious to "evil intolerant narrow minded bastard" just from his very respectful treatment of such characters on Babylon 5.
Now, stacking a few of these things together in a single origin story does seem a little improbable, but I can find truth stranger than this fiction (minus the super powers). What I find most important about JMS's writing here is that this origin story, improbable or not, is echoed in her actions.
Rokk goes on later to comment on how half of issue #4 is an Origin Story for Inertia, and how it is too soon in the comic books run to do that. I will agree with him, at least partially. I don't know that it is too early in the run, but the pacing of this book (even if you don't include the JMS penned Squadron Supreme material published before its relaunch) is definitely for a trade paperback version. I'm not suggesting he write at the speed of Mark Gruenwald's original version, but (and this is a long standing issue of this reviewers) I would appreciate a little quicker pace for my $2.99 an issue.
Tenzil's Non-Rokk Related Review Points:
Pacing aside, I am enjoying the buildup to whatever other shoe JMS plans to drop. I like the weaving of the heavier elements and real world concerns into the story. JMS is threading a pretty impressive line in paying much respect to the original yet making the story his own. Maybe its mind control, but I'm enjoying the ride. Just cant' wait for it to pick up speed.
I picked at the art a bit in the first couple of issues. I don't know if the artists involved had a change in approach, or just more time to work on these two issues, but they kicked it up from "good and serviceable" to great and emotionally involving. Issue three shows hints of it in the facial expressions during the plane ride discussion at the end of the issue, but the little choices made, and the craft in issue four are masterful. Frank and Sibal can handle the standard superhero expressions (anger, surprise, defiance) easily, but the tired sadness in Inertia's eyes in the bottom left panel of the 12th non-ad page of the book has a life like quality not usually found in a comic book. The choice to have Mark's eyes closed while saying the "hypothetically" line shows both shame and gives the reader a hint that all of his thinking may not be hypothetical. And the moon itself even somehow exudes a sadness in its bright silence.
In conclusion, if comics books are an escape for you, Squadron Supreme will probably not be your "cup of tea". It dealt with social issues before, and will most certainly deal with them again. It won't, in this reviewers opinion, preach to you, but it certainly won't shy away from presenting many sides to an issue. As long as JMS continues to progress the actual plot of the story forward, I'm in for the ride. JMS's writing is thoughtful, deliberate and different that most anything you'll see, comics or no, and penciller Gary Frank and inker Jonathon Sibal (and colorist Sotomayor) bring his words to life masterfully in one of the few truly synergistic partnerships in comics.