Last issue of Countdown was surprisingly not horrible. However, that isn’t to say that it was anything great. Countdown continues to be exposed as nothing more than a 12 issue mini-series that was stretched and fluffed up to fill up 52 issues. Hopefully, Dini can at least salvage something from this train wreck of a title and crank out an exciting ending that will get me pumped up for Final Crisis. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Countdown to Final Crisis #13.
Writers: Paul Dini, Tony Bedard & Keith Giffen
Art: Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
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: We begin with Superman-Prime and Monitor engaging in a titanic battle. Both of the combatants give just as well as they receive. Monarch unleashes a portion of his powers and there is a huge nuclear explosion that takes out the city. Kyle uses his power ring to protect himself and Earth-51 Batman and Red Robin. Donna protects Ray.
Monitor stand victorious and gloats that Superman-Prime could never match his power. Evidently, Monitor is gravely mistaken as a pissed off Superman-Prime comes flying at him from under some rubble.
We cut to the Challengers regrouping. Donna suddenly sees blazing flaming letters telling her to go to Apokolips. Unfortunately, none of the other heroes saw the letters.
We shift to the Nexus where Solomon has easily taken out Forerunner. Darkseid then appears on the scene and tells Solomon that their cosmic game of chess is not over. Solomon claims that his failure to unify the Monitors means that their game is forfeit. Darkseid disagrees saying that there is still much left to their game and that the next move is Solomon’s.
We slide back to Earth-51 where the Monitor for this Earth mourns the unavoidable death of his world. Suddenly, the Monitor senses something new and takes off in its direction hoping that he can be of use one last time before his world is destroyed.
We zip over to the Challengers. Earth-51 Batman gets tired of Donna and Jason arguing over if there really was any flaming letters on the nearby wall. Earth-51 Batman decides to attack several of Monarch’s evil metahumans including a version of the Joker. Earth-51 Batman snaps on Joker and attacks him and cries out why the Joker won’t stay dead. Donna tells Red Robin to leave Earth-51 Batman and that they need to leave Earth-51 immediately. Red Robin spits that he knows where he is needed and leaps to fight by Earth-51 Batman’s side.
Suddenly, an evil Superman attacks Earth-51 Batman from behind and punches Batman’s brain out of his skull and kills him. Red Robin then snaps and runs to Earth-51 Batman’s side. Kyle takes out the evil Superman. The Challengers then tell Jason to come with them that they need to get off this planet. Jason asks them to give him a moment. Donna replies that they will wait for him around the corner.
The wounded Joker mocks Jason’s mourning of Batman’s passing. We cut to the Challengers talking how they have no way to get to Apokolips. Suddenly, the Earth-51 Monitor appears and says that he also heard the call of The Source and that he can open the way to Apokolips.
Red Robin then re-joins the Challengers. Kyle asks if Jason is all right and Jason responds “Never better.” We then see the Joker dead with his head smashed under a large rock.
We cut back to Monarch and Superman-Prime still battling. Monarch says that Superman-Prime is nothing but a boy who is throwing a tantrum. That Prime is running out of the energy that he absorbed form the Guardian and that he is shrinking back down. Superman-Prime screams that he is not a boy. That he is a man. Superman-Prime then rips open Monarch’s armor. This causes a massive nuclear explosion that destroys everything on Earth-51.
The explosion subsides and the only person left standing on Earth-51 is the Monitor for that Earth. His perfect Earth has been reduced to a barren husk. The Monitor then senses something and notices a small plant beginning to sprout from the barren Earth. The Monitor thinks that as long as there is life then there is hope. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Cyborg Superman. End of issue.
The Good: Countdown to Final Crisis #13 was a fast paced issue. Dini and company crank out plenty of action. We got a fairly entertaining battle between two monster heavy weights in Superman-Prime and Monarch. Dini did a nice job handling Prime’s personality as nothing more than a boy with more power than he can handle who is lashing out in an immature fit of rage. We also get a good sense of Monarch’s ego and god-like arrogance during this brawl. And it was great to see the high and mighty Monarch shocked for the first time as he sees Prime shrug off his nuclear blast that takes out the city.
Hopefully, this issue also spells the end for Monarch and Superman-Prime’s involvement in this story. Monarch failed to interest me from the start. He is such a generic and one-dimensional villain. I’ll be fine if we never see him again in Countdown. Plus, since it appears that all of Monarch’s forces were obliterated when Earth-51 was nuked then maybe we will get lucky and this silly conquest to destroy the entire Multiverse is done. Of course, we all know that neither Monarch nor Superman-Prime is dead. I’m sure that both characters will re-surface during Final Crisis.
I am really enjoying Jason Todd’s transformation into Red Robin. This was a great move by Dini. Red Robin gives Jason his own personal look and identity that separates him from the other Boy Wonders and his mentor Batman. And I dig the aggressive attitude that Jason displays. Jason’s smashing the Joker’s head with a rock and killing him was well done. The reader gets a clear sense that Jason is more inspired by Earth-51’s Batman than he is by his own Batman from New Earth. And Jason displays more loyalty and affection to the Earth-51 Batman than he does to our Batman of New Earth.
Dini makes it clear that Jason is willing to dispense lethal justice when he deems it necessary. And Jason’s casual off-hand answer of “Never better” when Kyle asks how he is doing after Earth-51 Batman’s death was perfect. This shows Jason’s view that the use of lethal force is perfectly acceptable and no big deal. I view this moment as Jason fully accepting who he is and his core beliefs of justice despite them being radically different from those of his fellow Challengers.
I certainly will understand if there are fans of the Bat-family that are less than pleased with a disciple of the Bat practicing such a lethal brand of vigilantism as Jason does. However, it works for me since it gives Jason a visual look, personality and code of conduct that is radically different from his fellow Boy Wonders and his mentor. Yet, the Red Robin gimmick at the same time is a nice homage to Jason’s roots as a Robin.
It is about time that Countdown gives us some plot movement. Dini finally merges the Challengers plotline together with Darkseid’s plotline and Jimmy Olsen’s plotline. We also get to see Darkseid finally starting to play a bit more of an active role in this story as we learn that he has been engaged in some sort of cosmic chess game with Solomon. I’ll admit that this little plot twist has piqued my interest.
Derenick and Faucher combine to deliver better than average artwork, but it certainly isn’t anything special.
The Bad: The dialogue on Countdown continues to be very ordinary. At times the dialogue is cringe inducing and at other times it is simply average. None of the characters display much personality as everybody possesses the same generic exterior voice. There is still not much chemistry at all between the various characters. Everyone seems a bit robotic as they go through the necessary motions to move the story along.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Countdown without a ridiculous amount of meaningless and pointless deaths. And Countdown #13 serves up plenty of that with the killing of everyone on Earth-51. See, the problem with heavily overusing deaths to artificially create drama and importance to a story is that it desensitizes the reader to it all.
So, while Dini was trying to make a poignant statement with the death of Earth-51 and the small plant sprouting from the Earth as a sign of hope in the face of great destruction; it all had absolutely no impact on me. Why? Because we have been flooded with worlds blowing up and deaths by the truckload that the destruction of Earth-51 barely registered any response from me at all other than a mild yawn and a feeling of painful predictability.
Dini still has failed to give any attention to numerous plotlines in Countdown. The plotlines from Mary Marvel, Holly Robinson, Jimmy Olsen and Pied Piper have largely been ignored. And I’m beginning to wonder what in the world was the point of any of the plotlines outside of the Challengers and Jimmy Olsen plotlines. It is becoming painfully obvious that the majority of the plotlines from Countdown were pretty much just time wasters and filler.
Overall: Countdown to Final Crisis #13 was a slightly above average read. This issue does at least give me some hope that Dini might be able to pull off a somewhat exciting ending that could build some momentum leading into Morrison’s Final Crisis. Countdown is still largely a waste of time and should have been reserved for a tight and fast paced 12 issue mini-series leading into Final Crisis. In that format, I think that Dini could have delivered a powerful story that would have had a nice impact on the reader and gotten us excited for Final Crisis.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Last issue of Countdown was surprisingly not horrible. However, that isn’t to say that it was anything great. Countdown continues to be exposed as nothing more than a 12 issue mini-series that was stretched and fluffed up to fill up 52 issues. Hopefully, Dini can at least salvage something from this train wreck of a title and crank out an exciting ending that will get me pumped up for Final Crisis. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Countdown to Final Crisis #13.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
ACTION COMICS #861
COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #13
GREEN LANTERN #27
TRIALS OF SHAZAM #11
CAPTAIN AMERICA #34
MIGHTY AVENGERS #8
NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #2
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #118
ULTIMATE X-MEN #90
X-MEN EMPEROR VULCAN #5
I stumbled across Money Magazine’s listing of the Top 10 best places to live in the United States. In compiling this list, Money Magazine took into consideration economic opportunity, safe streets, good schools, things to do and a sense of community. Here are the best places to live:
10. Suwanee, Georgia
9. Nether Providence, Pennsylvania
8. Chaska, Minnesota
7. Milton, Massachusetts
6. Papillion, Nebraska
5. Claremont, California
4. Lake Mary, Florida
3. Louisville, Colorado
2. Hanover, New Hampshire
1. Middleton, Wisconsin
I have had the pleasure of visiting some of these towns. And these are some nice places to live and no doubt much nicer than the city I’m currently living in. But, I have to say that I wouldn’t want to live in almost any of these places. Why? For one simple reason: They are just too damn cold! I’m from the 305! I have to layer on sweaters and jackets the minute the temperature dips below 70 degrees. Out of that list of ten cities, I’d have to pick Claremont, California since they have nice weather most of the time. And maybe I could find my very own Julie Cooper to shack up with.
All right, let’s check out the comic books for this week. It looks like we have a total of 12 titles headed to the Bunker this week. This week’s shipment of comic books is a bit heavier with Marvel titles than DC titles.
Which DC comic book am I most looking forward to reading? Green Lantern #27 is sure to be an excellent read. Johns has done his best to make Green Lantern DC’s strongest title. We get to learn a bit more about the Alpha Lanterns as Johns builds toward the events of Final Crisis.
Normally, the latest issue of Green Lantern would be the DC comic book that I would be the most excited to read. However, this week I have to go with Action Comics #673. Johns appears to finally have this story arc on track and we should be in store for a wild ride now that our heroes are in the clutches of an evil Brainiac 5. And I’m hoping that at some point Johns explains how this version of the Legion fits into the DCU.
Which DC comic book am I least looking forward to reading? Oh this one is just too easy. It has to be Judd Winick’s craptacular Trials of Shazam #11. This title has quickly become a gruesome car wreck where I simply purchase just to see how horrible this story can get.
Which Marvel comic book am I most looking forward to reading? Daredevil #104 is sure to be a quality read. Brubaker always delivers a well written issue on this title. But, as much as I enjoy Daredevil, I will admit that this current story arc is missing that something special that makes it a title that I eagerly and impatiently wait to read each month.
Ultimate Spider-Man #118 should be an absolute blast to read. Bendis is bringing us the Ultimate universe version of the old Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon. That’s right, we get to see Web-head slinging into action with Iceman and Firestar by his side. If you are unfamiliar with this classic cartoon then you can check out this great website dedicated to Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends right here. I’m sure that Ultimate Spider-Man #118 will put a smile on my face.
Of course, obviously I’m going to have to go with Captain America #34 as the Marvel comic book that I am most looking forward to read. This is going to be a huge issue as Brubaker finally unveils the new Captain America. And man does Bucky cut a great image as Captain America. I love the new outfit and I dig that Bucky is packing a heater. Brubaker has made Captain America the most consistently good comic book that Marvel publishes. And Brubaker is really cranking up the intensity on this story arc with the Red Skrull’s evil plans. This is defiantly one issue that you should not miss.
Which Marvel comic book am I least looking forward to reading? This is an easy choice. It has to be Mighty Avengers #8. In general, Bendis has not impressed me with his handling of the team. Throw on top of that the shipping schedule delays and the fact that we have already seen the entire re-cap of the Venom symbiote battle and the conclusion over on New Avengers a couple of months ago. This all leads me to be less than enthused to read Mighty Avengers #8.
I’ll try my best to start posting reviews as soon as possible. I hope everyone enjoys their new comic books for this week.
Posted by Rokk Krinn at 9:40 AM
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Let’s not waste any time and go ahead and hand out The Revolution’s weekly awards.
The nominees for the Che for the best read of the week:
Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #25
Legion of Super Heroes #38
The Winner: Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #25
Shooter has made The Revolution fall in love with the Legion all over again. I am having an absolute blast reading the Legion of Super Heroes and on any other week, Legion of Super Heroes #38 would probably have won the Che award. However, the fact is that the Knaufs are simply on another level all together over on Iron Man. There are very few titles currently on the market that can rival the depth, complexity and maturity that the Knaufs deliver on Iron Man every month. The quality of writing on Iron Man is quite simply some of the best that you will find from either Marvel or DC.
And now the nominees for the Sequential Methadone Award for the worst read of the week:
Teen Titans #55
Ultimates 3 #2
The Winner: Ultimates 3 #2
Hey, look at that! Countdown to Final Crisis wasn’t even nominated for the Sequential Methadone Award this week. I’m sure that Dan Didio will be crushed. Oh well, better luck next week.
I was summarily unimpressed with Teen Titans #55. It came across as a painfully shallow and dull read. And that is unusual since up until this issue I have been rather impressed with McKeever’s work on the Teen Titans. However, Teen Titans #55 gave us a bunch of Titans who came across as annoying as possible. Being a Legion fan, I understand the use of tension between characters to spark some drama. However, what McKeever pulls off on this issue simply makes all the Titans come across as irritating and bratty. And none of the plotlines particularly interest me at all.
Still, the Sequential Methadone Award had to go to Ultimates 3 #2. I’m not going to bash away on Loeb. I do think that he is a talented writer. I just think this is a situation where Loeb is simply the wrong type of writer for the Ultimates. Millar set the tone and image for the Ultimates with his enjoyable run. The fact is that the Ultimates are viewed as a mature and political title. Loeb is giving us a traditional super hero team title that is more like what we got from Image Comics during the 1990’s. It is a bad mix and Marvel would do well to place a writer more suited for the Ultimates’ style than Loeb.
So congrats to Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #25 for winning the Che for the week and congrats to Ultimates 3 #2 for winning the Sequential Methadone Award of the week.
The Revolution is in the middle of the road with Amazing Spider-Man. I do enjoy Slott’s dialogue and his version of Spider-Man. And I love McNiven’s artwork. However, the last issue was nothing more than a standard issue story. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. Hopefully, Amazing Spider-Man #548 will crank up the intensity a bit. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Steve McNiven
Inks: Dexter Vines
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Spider-Man realizing that he is not dying from the red poison gas unlike all the other mobsters. Spider-Man then notices that there is one mobster who is also unaffected by the red gas. Spider-Man learns that the mobster was adopted by the Kanelli family so he doesn’t have their blood. Evidently, Mr. Negative used Bruno Kanelli’s blood from the last issue to create a red gas that is deadly only to people who have Kanelli blood.
The adopted Kanelli tells Spider-Man that the wives and children of the mobsters are all at a circus and for Spider-Man to go save them from Mr. Negative. We cut to the Spider-Mugger meeting back up with the guy that the Spider-Mugger sold the stuff that he stole from Peter. The Spider-Mugger wants the stuff back since he wants to see the name and address of Peter because the mugger knows Peter is Spider-Man. The guy who bought the stuff from the Spider-Mugger begins to strangle him and demands to know what the Spider-Mugger is hiding from him.
We cut to Spider-Man hitching a ride on top of a cab in order to get to the circus where the Kanelli wives and children are. We then hop over to Mr. Bennett arriving at the Daily Bugle and lording over everyone. Mr. Bennett announces that J.J.’s wife sold him all of J.J.’s shares of stock in the Bugle. Mr. Bennett then tells Robbie to go get him some coffee.
We see Spider-Man arriving in the circus tent. He yells for everyone to leave immediately. Unfortunately, everyone at the circus thinks that Spider-Man is a part of the show so they stay and clap. Mr. Negative’s thugs are on the scene and they attack Spider-Man. Spider-Man kicks ass on Mr. Negative’s thugs as the crowd cheers what they all think is simply a staged part of the circus show.
Mr. Negative launches a container of red gas. Spider-Man uses some of the circus bungee cords to launch the container far away from the circus tent where it explodes harmlessly. Unfortunately, everyone in the circus tent runs in fear and blames Spider-Man for the attempted gas attack.
Spider-Man then exits the circus tent and sees that Mr. Negative has a young girl hostage. Mr. Negative tosses a needle and vial to Spider-Man and tells him to draw his blood into the container or else Mr. Negative will kill the girl. Spider-Man draws his blood into the container and throws it back to Mr. Negative. Mr. Negative says that his gas is called Devil’s Breath and now he will use Spider-Man’s blood to concoct a special Devil’s Breath gas that will kill Spider-Man and any of his blood relatives. Mr. Negative warns Spider-Man not to cross his path again for the sake of Spider-Man’s loved ones.
Mr. Negative then throws the girl into the water. Spider-Man dives into the water to save the girl while Mr. Negative uses this opportunity to escape. Spider-Man brings the girl back to dry land and one of the Kanelli wives tells Spider-Man that the Mafia will forever be in his debt and that Spider-Man is now family. The police arrive on the scene and Spider-Man exits quickly thinking how the cops are going to think that Spider-Man is now working with the mob.
We cut to Charlie reporting to work at the Medical Examiner’s Office. She prepares to work on a male corpse that was pulled from the river. Charlie notices something in his mouth. Charlie pulls out a Spider-Tracer.
We cut to Peter thinking about all that just happened with Mr. Negative. Peter thinks that it is a good thing that the only family he has is Aunt May and that she is not a blood relative. We zip over to Mr. Negative arriving at his secret lair. He turns back to normal and walks through a secret door into the homeless shelter that Aunt May volunteers at. Mr. Negative is none other than Mr. Li who runs the shelter.
We shift to Peter’s spider-sense suddenly going nuts. Peter swings down to an alley where he finds the dead body of the Spider-Mugger. Peter retrieves his web-shooter and spider-tracer from the corpse. Just then, the police show up and tell Spider-Man that he is under arrest. Peter quickly flees the scene. Spider-Man thinks how he is back in costume for one day and now the cops think he is a killer, a new super villain wants him dead. The only people who like him are the mob and that he didn’t get pictures of any of it. End of issue.
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #548 was an average issue. Slott certainly serves up a fast paced issue. This issue starts off quick and there is no stop to this roller coaster until you hit the end. Slott also delivers enough action to make sure the reader never gets bored. The fast pacing and short scene cuts back and forth between the various plotlines made this issue a quick read and will make Amazing Spider-Man #548 appealing to readers who don’t mind a shallow story as long as it is quick with plenty of action.
I continue to dig Slott’s dialogue. Slott’s nice sense of humor and ability to fire out plenty of witty quips makes him a fine candidate to write Spider-Man. As a matter of fact, Peter’s personality is pretty much the only aspect of Amazing Spider-Man that is really captivating my interest.
I enjoyed the little twist of Mr. Negative being none other than Mr. Li who runs the shelter that Aunt May volunteers at. That is a neat revelation that should cause some problems for Peter at some point.
McNiven and Vines continue to impress me with their fine looking artwork. I love the attention to detail that McNiven gives his art. While Amazing Spider-Man’s story might be lacking in depth, the artwork certainly is not.
The Bad: Amazing Spider-Man #548 simply comes across as a paint-by-numbers issue. Slott is hitting all the necessary points that you need to generate a formulaic comic book story. There is nothing that seems particularly complex, intriguing or different with what we are getting on Amazing Spider-Man.
For the most part, the story is rather shallow. This story certainly is evoking feelings of the 1970’s Spider-Man that I remember as a little kid. And I’m sure that this is no coincidence since Joey Q has never been shy about wanting Spider-Man to return to how he was when Joey Q was a kid. The lack of depth with this initial story arc makes it hard for me to get that engrossed or captivated by this title.
This story arc is simply a standard and generic comic book story. It isn’t as mature or complex as most titles on the market. Even though I thought a majority of JMS’ run was absolutely moronic, it still was a mature story with plenty of depth. This version of Amazing Spider-Man seems that Marvel is trying to target a younger audience.
Again, it appears that Joey Q doesn’t understand his own stable of titles. I was under the impression that Marvel Adventures Spider-Man was for the younger readers. That Ultimate Spider-Man was the title that would appeal to older teens as well as older readers who desired to read about a young single Peter Parker. And then Amazing Spider-Man was the most mature title that sported an older and married Peter Parker.
Now it appears that Joey Q has combined Marvel Adventures Spider-Man with Ultimate Spider-Man with his new version of Amazing Spider-Man. With what we are getting on Amazing Spider-Man, the other two Spider-Man titles have lost their purpose and we no longer have three distinctive Spider-Man titles like we did before the Mephisto retcon.
Mr. Negative isn’t turning out to be a particularly compelling villain. He is rather generic and Slott hasn’t been able to give me any reason to either despise Mr. Negative or to feel sympathetic toward him.
I am also not even remotely interested in the Spider-Mugger plotline that is teasing the reader about Peter’s secret identity getting exposed. We just went through a massive retcon that dealt with giving Peter his secret identity back. It is too soon to start teasing the reader with the possibility of Peter’s secret identity already getting revealed once again. It is beginning to get a tired plotline. I would prefer that Marvel stop beating this dead horse and just stop revolving plotlines around Peter’s secret identity for at least a little while.
I also understand that part of Joey Q’s mandate with the retcon is that Spider-Man go back to his classic position of being wanted by the Police and generally hated by the public. But, I think that Slott went overboard with this theme in this issue. Having the police believe that Spider-Man killed the mugger in the alley was enough. I don’t think we also needed to have the Mafia also state in front of the police that Spider-Man is part of their family.
Overall: After finishing the initial story arc on this newly retconned Amazing Spider-Man, I feel that I have sufficient exposure to this new direction of this title in order to give a proper recommendation. I don’t find Amazing Spider-Man to be a horrible read. It simply is a bit shallow and immature. If this were a monthly title then I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy a light hearted read that isn’t very deep and makes for a fun and fast read. Pure popcorn for the brain.
However, the fact is that Amazing Spider-Man requires a reader to purchase this title three times a month. If a comic book company expects a reader to shell out money for three issues a month on a single title then the story better be one hell of a read like 52 was. And Amazing Spider-Man simply isn’t anything beyond an average read. Therefore, unless you are a die-hard Spider-Man fan, I simply cannot recommend Amazing Spider-Man due to the amount of money you have to expend every month. The quality of story on Amazing Spider-Man just isn’t worth the cost of having to purchase three issues a month.
Monday, January 28, 2008
The Revolution has absolutely loved the Knaufs’ run on Iron Man. This is certainly one of the best versions of Iron Man since the glory days of Micheline and Layton. Iron Man sports some of the strongest writing of any Marvel comic book. I’d even say that the Knaufs might actually be topping Brubaker’s incredible effort over on Captain America. The Knaufs have made Iron Man one of the best written and most complex titles currently on the market. I’m sure that Iron Man #25 will be another excellent read. Let’s hit this review.
Writers: Daniel and Charles Knauf
Artist: Rob De La Torre
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: We begin with Tem informing Maya Hanson that the Defense Department will not continue the Extremis project with the programmed cell death intact. That Maya must either remove it or provide the government with the encoding sequence. Maya says that the government is crazy. That without the programmed cell death that the Extremis virus could spread like an airborne virus and kill almost the entire population on Earth.
Tem urges Maya to think about his company and all of his employees who will be out of work if the government de-funds the project and then sues Prometheus Gentech for breach of contract. Maya asks Tem for a little time to think about her decision. Tem agrees.
We cut to Tony and Doc Samson at Tony’s hotel room in Omaha, Nebraska. Samson is reviewing all the documents that Tony turned over to Kooning concerning Gentech and the missing persons that Gadget had been investigating. Tony says that the Mandarin is behind this. Samson says that he can’t release Tony from the power dampener since it was preprogrammed to stay locked for the entire term of Tony’s suspension. Tony spits that people will die if Tony can’t access his full powers.
Samson asks how many people will die due a potentially schizophrenic metahuman who refuses treatment. Tony says that he is not crazy. Tony then admits to seeing ghosts. That they aren’t really ghosts. They are dead and that they come to him in dreams only that Tony is awake when he has these “dreams.” Tony says he sees Captain America, Sal, Gadget and Happy. All the people who have died. And then say things. They give Tony information about how to look at the evidence and to point him in the right direction. That everything they say has been true.
Samson then replies that Extremis rewrote Tony’s entire body giving him enhanced endurance, enhanced restorative ability, enhanced motor functions and significantly enhanced brain functions. That Tony is processing information at light speed and connecting random data like a super computer on one level while his normal thought processes are still functioning at a standard human level.
Samson says that Tony’s brain is taking in more information that it can process. Therefore, it is storing it and sublimating it in his unconscious mind like a reservoir. That Tony’s hallucinations are spillover information too urgent and too important to remain out of play. Samson deduces that Tony is stuffing this excess data into the same place that humans normally fill up with guilt, pain and regret. That we all have ghosts and demons. In Tony’s case they are functioning as messengers.
Tony says it doesn’t make sense that he hasn’t seen other dead people like Maya Hansen. Suddenly, Tony the thought dawns on Tony that Maya isn’t dead.
We cut to Maya at a payphone calling Jack Kooning. Maya yells at Kooning for lying to her about her working on a Super Soldier program and for the Department of Defense wanting an unrestrained form of the Extremis Virus to use as a weapon of mass destruction. Kooning tells Maya that he has no idea what she is talking about. Kooning tells Maya that he never gave such orders or said such things. Kooning tells Maya to stand down and wait for him to deal with all of this.
Kooning hangs up the phone and wonders what he has done. Iron Man then appears on the scene and grabs Kooning and asks where Maya Hansen is right now. Iron Man proceeds to slap around Kooning yet Kooning keeps insisting that Maya is dead. Samson intervenes and says that Kooning is not a bad man. That desperation can make a good man do terrible things. Samson hands Kooning the picture of Kooning standing with Captain America that was sitting on Kooning’s desk.
Kooning then admits everything that he did. That he faked Maya’s death and assigned her to the Super Soldier project that had been awarded to Gentech which was owned by a Mongolian named Tem Borjigin. Iron Man then tells Kooning that he really screwed the pooch by handing over the government contract and the Extremis Virus to a company that is owned by the Mandarin.
We see Iron Man headed to Gentech’s lab. Tony contacts Dugan and orders him to ready the launch of the StarkTech EVH-Beta Prototype. Maria Hill then enters the command center and tells Dugan to belay that order and asks him what the hell he is doing.
We cut to Maya sneaking into the Gentech’s lab where the Extremis virus is being held. The Mandarin enters and apologizes to Maya for having had to lie to her. Mandarin admits that he wants to use the Extremis virus against the world. The Mandarin recounts how his ancestor, Genghis Khan, ruled his empire based on the perfect system of meritocracy. That the strong survived and ruled and that the weak died.
Mandarin states that he was a fool to think that the Malukkians had given him the power of the ten rings just to rule over humankind. That Mandarin received this power in order to make him a living example of the next step in the evolution of our species. That the Mandarin’s true purpose was not to enslave man but to elevate man.
That the Extremis virus will kill billions of people, but those precious few who possess the natural immunity to Extremis will survive. That mankind will be stronger, smarter and all but immune to the ravages of age and disease. Mandarin says that he envies Maya because she is one of the few that possess the rare gene sequence that insures her survival of the Extremis transformation. However, the Mandarin does not possess that gene sequence and that he will die with the others in the great culling of the world.
Suddenly, Iron Man busts onto the scene and gets ready to brawl with Mandarin. End of issue.
The Good: Iron Man #25 was another wonderful read. The Knaufs serve up a strongly plotted and paced issue. The slow burn approach that the Knaufs have take with their entire run on Iron Man is the same styled approach of Brubaker over on Captain America. The Knaufs take their time to soundly construct various complex plotlines and then methodically reveal how they are related to each other as all the pieces of this rather elaborate puzzle slowly slide into place. What is so unique is that despite this measured pace at no point does the reader ever feel bored.
Ever since the beginning of The Knaufs’ run we have been steadily and patiently building toward the final scene of Iron Man #25: the climactic showdown between Iron Man and the Mandarin. I have been so impressed with the elaborate storytelling and long range vision of Brubaker on Captain America and what the Knaufs have done on Iron Man is every bit as impressive if not more so.
The Knaufs craft plenty of their usually fantastic dialogue. The flow of the dialogue is pleasantly natural. And each character has their own unique voice. All of the various characters are well developed which lends to this title having such a realistic feel to it. All the characters are well developed and three dimensional. From Samson to Kooning, the Knaufs understand that all the supporting characters must be as fleshed out as the main character.
The Knaufs are doing a wonderful job with the two main characters in this story arc: Tony and the Mandarin. I am enjoying the fact that the Knaufs have taken a rather one dimensional megalomaniac styled villain with hopes of world conquest and morphed him into a much more nuanced and compelling character. I dig his newfound view of his purpose within this world.
I also like the use of the Extremis virus as a vehicle to cull the masses and to help boost mankind into the next step of evolution. And to top it all off, the revelation that the Mandarin will not be one of the lucky ones to survive his plan makes this plotline even more interesting. I dig this little twist that the Mandarin is willing to sacrifice himself for what he truly believes is for the betterment of mankind.
The Knaufs handling of Tony’s character continues to blow me away. What you have seen on the Civil War and Initiative tie-in issues in other titles is totally unrecognizable with the Tony Stark that the Knaufs have given us on Iron Man. And the Knaufs’ Tony Stark is completely in keeping with his history unlike what we have gotten outside of Iron Man ever since Civil War began.
The Knaufs have given us possible the deepest, most complex and intriguing version of Tony Stark that we have ever seen. What the Knaufs have done with Tony’s character is simply amazing. The amount of psychology that the Knaufs pour into this title is rarely seen on other comic books currently on the market. The Knaufs have delved deeply into Tony’s mind and what we see is not always pretty.
I love the explanation of the ghosts that Tony has been seeing. Absolutely fantastic. And the explanation makes perfect sense. It fits together perfectly with Tony’s enhanced mental abilities due to the Extremis Virus.
I’m curious about the StarkTech EVH-Beta Prototype that Tony ordered Dugan to send to him. Could we be seeing a brand new Iron Man armor? I hope so. I also like the twist of having Maria Hill cancel Dugan’s order to send the prototype to Tony. This should certainly put Tony in a tough situation as he is clearly outclassed by the Mandarin in his old suit of armor.
The Knaufs end Iron Man #25 with a great hook ending. We finally see Iron Man about to knock heads with his greatest enemy and having to do it without his Extremis powers or his modern armor. We should be in store for a great brawl with the next issue.
Iron Man #25 also came with plenty of additional extras. We got an article and some pics about the upcoming Iron Man movie. We then got a cool extra feature that was an interview with Iron Man legend Bob Layton who discussed several of his favorite and least favorite armors. Bob shared with the reader his philosophy about how Iron Man’s armor should be designed. I loved this article and it alone made the extra dollar slapped on Iron Man #25 well worth it.
We also got a re-print of Tales of Suspense #39 recounting the original origin of Iron Man. And then we got a preview of Viva Las Vegas #1 by Jon Favreau and Adi Granov.
The Bad: I’m just not crazy about De La Torre’s style of art. There is no doubt that De La Torre is talented and his art certainly does go along with the general dark and creepy mood of the Knaufs' story. But, I just don’t dig rough, sketchy and muddy artwork on a title like Iron Man. And I certainly don’t think that De La Torre draws a particularly intriguing or interesting Iron Man.
Overall: Iron Man #25 is another absolute gem. The Knaufs continue to provide some of the best writing that Marvel has to offer. It is a shame that so many readers may never give Iron Man a chance given that Marvel has done their best to make Tony look like a dickhead on just about every comic book outside of Iron Man. I definitely encourage you to give Iron Man a try. This is certainly one of the best written comic books on the market and well worth the cover price.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
The Revolution absolutely loved Shooter and Manapul’s debut issue on Legion of Super Heroes #37. It was fantastic. This old school/new school combination definitely pumped new life into this half-dead franchise. The Legion has been struggling ever since Crisis on Infinite Earths wreaked havoc on their continuity and history. Writers have come and gone and DC has been forced to perform complete and total re-boots on this title several times. Well, after a couple of decades of mismanagement and an apparent lack of concern or knowledge of how to handle the Legion, it appears DC is finally committed to putting some effort into restoring the Legion to its former glory.
I will admit up front that I was suspicious about the decision to bring back an older writer like Shooter who began his first tour of duty on the Legion back in the late 1960’s. Clearly, my fears were unfounded and I’ll give Didio credit for tapping Shooter to handle the revival of the Legion. Shooter brought back that Legion magic and that trademark Legion “feel” that has been missing on this title since the original Crisis. There is no doubt in my mind that I am going to completely enjoy Legion of Super Heroes #38. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Jim Shooter
Artist: Francis Manapul
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf and Star Boy brawling with the alien invaders. We see that the red-haired alien girl is actually still alive as she regains consciousness. The girl quickly joins the Legionnaires in their battle against the alien invaders. The girl introduces herself to the Legionnaires. Her name is Giselle.
Timber Wolf’s animal sharp senses notice that the alien invaders are changing and adapting to the threat that the Legionnaires present. We see the alien invaders getting larger and their weapons and armor getting bigger.
We cut to Legion Headquarters where Lightning Lad still cannot establish any communication with Saturn Girl. Light Lass and Phantom Girl both point out that if Garth wasn’t so rude to all the U.P. officials that maybe they could have convinced someone to allow them to use a transmatter unit.
Suddenly, Zilya Popoff, the Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.P. President enters the room along with walks in with the new U.P. approved Legion applicants. We shift back to Triton with Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Star Boy and Giselle brawling with the newly buffed up alien invaders. Star Boy gets taken out by the alien invaders. Saturn Girl calls out for help from Giselle. Giselle responds that she isn’t helping the Legionnaires. That Giselle hates the locals since they have always hated them and she is only interested in saving herself.
We slide back to Legion HQ where Lightning Lad demands to know how Popoff got into the Legion HQ. Popoff responds that all senior U.P. officials have an all-access pass to the Legion HQ. That it was a rider attached to the building reconstruction inspection document that Lightning Lad personally signed.
Lightning Lad then asks any of the new applicants if they have the ability to teleport. Sadly, none of them possess that ability. Garth then barks for them to leave only to be cut short by Light Lass who urges her brother to let the applicants try and to make it seem official. Garth grudgingly agrees and the tryouts commence.
First up is Fruit Boy who has the ability to cause fruit to ripen. Next is Sludge who has the ability to make any surface slimy, mucky and sticky. Unfortunately, Sludge can’t clean up any mess that he makes. Then we have Virus (the three-boot version of Infectious Lass) who has the ability to make people sick, except she can’t control who gets sick so everyone in her range-radius gets sick.
Next is Spy. His abilities include super-acute sense and a little ESP. Spy can smell everyone in the room and hear their heartbeats. Spy says that his ESP is always drawn to the most intense thoughts around him. Spy says that right now someone is thinking really hard about Light Lass’s… Spy then snaps at Sludge and tells him to show some respect to Light Lass. That she is a Legionnaire.
Next is Sonar who has the ability to hear underwater. And lastly is Voice. Her talent is that anyone that can hear her voice is compelled to do whatever she says. Except that it only works on dull-witted stupid types. Voice says if she told them to raise their left hand that no one would probably do it. We then see that nobody has their left hand up except for Lighting Lad. Light Lass quickly tells Garth to put his left hand down. Voice then hurriedly says that her power also works on those who are under a lot of stress or that are tired.
Light Lass thanks all the applicants for their tryouts and tells them that the Legionnaires will confer and then let them know. Lightning Lad then yells “NO!” and just erupts. Lightning crackles all around the room. Garth yells for everyone to get out now.
Popoff and the applicants quickly run from the scene. Ayla snaps at her brother telling him that Popoff is one of the most powerful politicians in the entire U.P. That if they had just buttered him up and accepted his applicants that maybe they could have then gotten him to unfreeze their transmatter account. Ayla storms off yelling that now they still have no way to get to Triton and are now going to have a problem with the President’s Office.
Lightning Lad then gets a call from the President’s Chief of Staff who informs Garth of a meeting tomorrow to discuss ways to mitigate the diplomatic damage Lightning Lad has just done. Lighting Lad stands there by himself. Suddenly, another applicant appears in the room. His name is M’rissey (Manchester, so much to answer for) and that his power is that he is a genius at applied operational calculus. Garth storms off saying that he doesn’t have time for this.
We zip back to Triton where a badly bloodied and beaten Star Boy wakes up. He takes out a couple of alien invaders that are about to get Saturn Girl. Saturn Girl and Star Boy are outnumbered. Timber Wolf is down. Saturn Girl takes over the minds of the unconscious Science Police in the battlefield and commandeers their motor control centers and has them blast away the remaining alien invaders. The fight is over and now the Science Police re-enforcements arrive on the scene.
We cut back to Legion HQ where Light Lass informs her brother that they have just learned that the fight is over on Triton. That the Science Police have found three unnamed Legionnaires badly injured and no word on the fourth Legionnaire.
We hop back to Triton where the Science Police medical team is treating Star Boy and Saturn Girl’s wounds. Timber Wolf snarls at the member of the medical team that tries to treat him. Timber Wolf says that his injuries are just a scratch. Star Boy searches for Invisible Kid and finds him trapped under some rubble. Star Boy frees Invisible Kid and they fly back to the Saturn Girl and Timber Wolf.
We see Saturn Girl approaching Giselle and telling her that the Legion would welcome Giselle if she wanted to try out for Legion training. Giselle rebuffs Saturn Girl’s offer and states that she was only trying to save herself during the battle. That the Legion is just a bunch of U.P. lackeys and that the U.P. sucks.
We cut to Lightning Lad, Light Lass and Phantom Girl in the main control room. Phantom Girl informs Lightning Lad that a message just came in from Saturn Girl. That all four Legionnaires are okay. Garth is thrilled with this good news. Garth says that he can finally sleep tonight for the first time in three days.
Light Lass and Phantom Girl then leave to go to bed and urge Garth to stop being Lightning Lad and get some sleep. Garth answers that he is just going to check on a few things and then will go to sleep. P.G. and Light Lass leave. We see Garth standing in front of the Monitor Board. Garth then slumps over and begins crying. Light Lass peers from around the corner and comments how her poor dear brother is in so far over his head. End of issue.
The Good: Legion of Super Heroes #38 was a fantastic read. Shooter serves up another strongly plotted and paced issue. The story moves along at a pleasant flow shifting between the faster action scenes and the slower paced scenes at the Legion HQ. As we race toward the end of the issue, Shooter employs faster scene cuts to ramp up the tension in the reader. We also get treated to a pleasant mix of drama and action. Shooter shows obviously knows that a good comic book requires both elements.
Shooter continues to impress me with his incredible character work and strong dialogue. It is obvious that Shooter simply has an exception feel for the personalities of the various Legionnaires. I have not seen a writer since Levitz left the Legion that has handled the various personalities of the Legionnaires as deftly as Shooter has in his first two issues. Shooter’s dialogue has a pleasant flow to it and makes even dialogue heavy scenes entertaining.
Shooter has also generated fantastic chemistry between the various Legionnaires. This is what has been missing on this title for decades. Shooter’s chemistry is what gives this comic book its trademark Legion “feel” that has been missing for so long. It is so tough to put this “feeling” into words, but I know it when I see it. And the way the Legionnaires interact and conduct themselves is perfect.
Shooter also serves up some sweet fight scenes. I love seeing Timber Wolf in action. Shooter has certainly impressed upon the reader what a total bad-ass Brin truly is. I liked how Brin was the only Legionnaire refusing medical treatment while dismissing his injuries as just a “scratch.” That is classic Timber Wolf.
I also liked Shooter’s creative use of Star Boy’s powers. Having Thom use his abilities to make the torso of the alien invaders heavier than their legs so that their bodies broke in half was pretty cool. I also loved that Shooter let Saturn Girl provide the finishing blow. And what a creative method as well with her commandeering the unconscious Science Police and having them mow down the invaders. Saturn Girl certainly has style.
I enjoyed the twist that Shooter throws at the reader by having Giselle turn tail and run during the fight leaving our poor Legionnaires on their own. Shooter is doing an excellent job of riffing off of Waid’s “Eat it, Grandpa” Legion youth movement. Ever since the Legion has taken one a close relationship with the U.P. the Legion’s rep across the universe has drastically changed.
No longer is the Legion the rebellious kids club. The Legion is now a part of the system. The Legion is the U.P. And it is interesting to see other young characters that would have loved and adored the Legion during Waid’s run now hate the Legion and view them as U.P. lackeys.
I absolutely adored the Legion tryouts. The Legion tryouts have always been some of my favorite Legion issues. And Shooter doesn’t disappoint in this issue. These Legion tryouts were so reminiscent of the old school Legion tryouts that we used to get prior to the original Crisis. Yet, Shooter doesn’t make the reader feel that he is just repeating the past. The applicants had an enjoyable Silver Age feel to them with their uniquely silly powers but they still had an appropriate modern era feel to their characters.
I’m glad to see Shooter bringing back just a little bit of the cheekiness and camp that the Legion always was known for before writers decided to twist this title into a dark dystopian future. And the Legion tryout in this issue brought some necessary comic relief to an otherwise tense story.
All of the applicants were excellent and I have a hard time picking a favorite one. However, I have to say that Fruit Boy may have been the star of this pool of applicants. Of course, it was also great to see Infectious Lass finally make an appearance in the three-boot. Yeah, Shooter gave her an updated name in Virus. And honestly, I didn’t think that was really necessary.
Sludge’s lusting over Light Lass’ assets during Spy’s tryout was humorous. Shooter continues to give the Legion the appropriate amount of sexual tension that you would expect to find among a large collection of 18-19 year olds clad in tight outfits.
Voice’s tryout was probably the most entertaining one as poor Lightning Lad is the only one with his hand in the air due to Voice’s powers. And Voice nervously stammering away trying to explain how her powers also influence those who are tired as stressed and not just people who are dull witted was perfectly done.
I enjoyed Shooter’s little surprise that all senior UP officials have unfettered access to the Legion HQ. And the fact that it was actually a rider that was a part of the contract that Garth signed in order to get the U.P.’s help to rebuild the Legion HQ was a great twist. The reader really feels bad for Garth as it seems that he just can’t do right. Also, it makes the Legion HQ much different than it was under Waid when it was reserved only for rebellious teen-agers.
I continue to be completely impressed with Shooter’s handling of Garth’s character. This has been the best job any writer has done with Lightning Lad’s character in quite some time. Shooter manages to show the reader various sides to Garth’s personality. We get to see Garth’s hot temper as he continually insults the various U.P officials. We also see Garth’s sensitive side as he continually worries about Saturn Girl and the other Legionnaires that he is unable to rescue.
Shooter shows the reader that Garth is a more direct and impulsive individual rather than a calm and calculating person. Garth is better suited for rushing into fearlessly into battle with a clear objective in mind than he is playing the cerebral role of a politically savvy leader. Shooter certainly treats us to a Lightning Lad that is complex and well fleshed out.
The ending was perfect. Shooter has been showing the stress and pressures that Lightning Lad is under practically 24/7 as Legion leader. The reader gets an excellent sense of the overwhelmed feeling that Garth has been experiencing during these two issues.
Of course, Garth is a tough guy and certainly has plenty of pride. He is not about to let anyone every think that he can’t handle the duties of being Legion leader. The final scene with Garth breaking down and crying in private was excellent. It allows the reader to connect with Garth and to get to see a side of his character that is rarely seen. Shooter manages to make Garth seem much deeper than we have seen him in a long time.
Francis Manapul serves up plenty more of his fantastic looking artwork. Manapul gives the Legion such a dynamic look. Manapul’s Legion has plenty of youthful energy with just enough sexiness as well. This is certainly one of the best looking versions of the Legion that I have seen in a very long time. Manapul’s art serves to capture the true essence of the Legion while still giving it a fresh modern look.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.
Overall: Legion of Super Heroes #38 was another strong read. I realize that I must sound like a total shill for the Legion of Super Heroes. You will have to forgive me for my exuberance about Shooter and Manapul’s first two issues on this title. The fact is that this is the first time since Paul Levitz left the Legion that I have been this excited and pumped up about the Legion and the direction that it is headed. Shooter is finally giving us a Legion that is loyal and true to its roots while still being modern and new. Shooter certainly is not just giving us a re-hash of the original version of the Legion. Nor is Shooter simply bending the Legion to fit his own personal desires of what he wants to do with the various characters irrespective of their history.
If you dig teen heroes and you like a fine blend of action and drama then I have to recommend Legion of Super Heroes. You get a combination of both strong writing and artwork. And for my taste there is no other super hero group that can match the Legion for its diversity of characters and drama that exists between them. Shooter is certainly making the Legion of Super Heroes new reader friendly so now is a good time to hop aboard this title.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
I know this post has nothing to do with the world of comic books, but bear with me. I promise to get some comic book reviews up by tomorrow. At any rate, It is late Saturday night and I’m sick to my stomach over my NFL team, the Washington Redskins. Yeah, I know, I’m from the 305 so I should be a Dolphins fan. What can I say? As a little kid, I saw John Riggins running over Dolphins and winning a Super Bowl and just thought the Skins were the coolest team around.
At any rate, Dan Snyder has actually made me hate the Redskins. Seriously, the little prick is an idiot. And I have had to stomach so much of his moronic manhandling and mismanagement of the team that I simply cannot take anymore. The recent dismantling of the Skins coaching staff and the pathetic job of hiring assistant coaches (and questionable ones at that) before hiring a head coach (Seriously, Jim Fassel? What the hell?) has just pushed me over the edge.
Therefore, I’ve decided that as long as Snyder owns the Redskins that I’m going to root for another team. So, now I have to decide which NFL team I should pick as my favorite. And I decided that rather than make myself make this decision that I would open it up to you all and let the followers of The Revolution decide which team’s colors I wear. Vote away.
The Revolution’s poll dealt with the question of which big event for 2008 were readers most excited to read. This poll generated 290 votes. The final results were:
1st Place: Final Crisis: 61% (176 votes)
2nd Place: Secret Invasion: 39% (114 votes)
I’m not surprised that DC’s Final Crisis won this poll. However, I am shocked that Final Crisis absolutely crushed Secret Invasion. It wasn’t even close. Evidently, the readers of The Revolution don’t have much faith in Bendis’ upcoming “You’re a Skrull! No, you’re a Skrull!” story.
Despite my extreme disappointment in Countdown to Final Crisis, I went ahead and voted for Final Crisis. Part of my reasoning is that I have more faith in Grant Morrison to pull off a huge event than I do in Brian Bendis. I was summarily unimpressed with Bendis’ last big event in House of M. And the lead-in to Secret Invasion has been less than thrilling. The general theme behind Secret Invasion just sounds a bit cheesy to me.
On the other hand, Final Crisis seems to be a much larger event than Secret Invasion and there is the possibility for this big event to become a classic tale. I may not enjoy everything that Morrison delivers on Final Crisis, but I am confident that Morrison will at least deliver a well constructed story that is a quality read.
Final Crisis versus Secret Invasion is going to be a pivotal battle for the big two in their efforts to be the dominant publisher of 2008. Personally, since I enjoy both Marvel and DC, I really hope that both events turn out to be excellent reads. That way the fans win no matter what.
Thanks for participating in the poll. I always love hearing what the followers of The Revolution have to say.
Friday, January 25, 2008
The Messiah Complex has been nothing short of spectacular. The boys at Marvel have done a fantastic job crafting a wonderfully detailed and executed story arc. There is simply no way in the world that the conclusion to the Messiah Complex could disappoint me. I simply can’t see the X-writers not being able to deliver a nicely crafted ending fitting to such a wild and fun ride. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for X-Men #207.
Writer: Mike Carey
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend
Art Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Predator X attacking Cable and Bishop. Bishop shoots at the creature which only causes Predator X to chomp down on Bishop for a little snack. Cable takes the opportunity to take the baby and turn tail and run.
We cut to the X-Men brawling with the Marauders. Scott decides to send X-Force after Predator X and to send the New X-Men after the Marauders. Scott’s logic is that the Marauders have spent forever training to battle the X-Men so the change up by sending the New X-Men against the Marauders should give our heroes the upper hand.
We see X-Force battling Predator X without much success. Cyclops then approaches Cable and asks for the baby. Cable points his gun at Cyclops. Scott says that Nathan would have already shot Scott if he wanted to. Scott tells Nathan to put the gun down and hand over the baby. Professor X then tells Cable to do what Scott says.
We skip over to Rogue fully recovered from the Strain 88. Rogue decides that it is time to end this endless cycle of murder and manipulation between her and Mystique. Rogue takes off her glove and says that it is all going to end now.
We slide back to X-Force still not having any success against Predator X. Fortunately, Emma and the New X-Men are having plenty of success against the Marauders.
We go back to Cable, Scott and Professor X. Cable puts his gun down and hands over the baby. Xavier says that Scott is the leader of the X-Men and he must speak for them all. That Cable has done his part and has had his say.
We hop back to Rogue grabbing Mystique and sucking away her life. We cut back to X-Force still battling with Predator X. Our heroes are getting frustrated because Predator X is virtually indestructible and nothing penetrates his hide. So, Wolverine hops into the monster’s mouth and gets swallowed. Lady Wolverine has clearly never seen a monster movie or read a comic book and freaks out that Wolverine just got eaten. We then see Wolverine slice and dice his way out of Predator X from the inside. Predator X is now dead.
We slide back to Scott holding the baby. The baby begins to play with Scott’s locket of him and Jean Grey. Scot remembers when Nathan as a baby was taken from him. Scott then remembers Jean dying for the last time. Xavier tells Scott that he can’t control the future. That he can only allow it be born. Xavier says that there are at least two possible futures and that the child is the key that opens both of them.
We shift back to Rogue and Gambit. Rogue says that Mystique isn’t dead. Rogue mentions that when she was healed from the Strain 88, that all the minds she had absorbed over the years were also erased. That it was just Rogue. For about a minute. That now it is Rogue and Mystique in her head. Rogue says that she wish she had seen this sooner because then she never would have touched Mystique. Rogue then says that Mystique is the last person she ever wants to see and now Mystique is stuck in her head. Rogue then says that she needs to go away and be by herself and think. Rogue then leaves.
We cut back to all the members of the X-Men, X-Factor, New X-Men and X-Force standing around Scott holding the baby. All the villains have been defeated. Scott kisses the baby and puts his locket around her neck and then hands her back to Cable. Scott tells Cable to take the baby and get out of here. That the baby needs to be herself and choose for herself rather than be a key or a strategic resource or a playing piece in someone else’s game. Scott tells Cable to give the baby the freedom that Scott was never able to give Cable.
Cable then teleports from the scene. As Cable is teleporting away, Bishop wakes up and screams “NO!” and fires several shots at Cable’s disappearing form. The shots wiz through where Cable was standing and blast Professor X in the head. Cyclops then blasts Bishop taking him out.
The Beast examines Professor X and pronounces him dead from the head shot from Bishop. The X-Men all surround Professor X and stand there. They ask Scott what do they do know? Scott responds that Xavier’s dream begins with him and ends with him. That there are no X-Men. Suddenly, Xavier’s body disappears and nobody seems to notice that little fact. We then fade to black.
We zip forward to the future where Cable is standing there holding the baby. Cable tells the child that they made it and now comes the hard part. End of issue.
The Good: I didn’t find X-Men #207 all that great of a read, but it still had plenty of positive aspects to it. This was certainly a fast paced issue. The X-writers have done a great job during the Messiah Complex of making sure that there were very few slow parts to this story arc.
And this ending to the Messiah Complex was certainly full of action and had numerous twists and turns. Even though I wasn’t all that impressed with the various surprises that we got with X-Men #207, the fact is that you cannot deny that the writers kept the swerves coming at the reader right up to the very end. And that is exactly what made this story arc such a fun read.
Carey makes sure that the reader gets their fill of plenty of furious action in this issue. We get a huge brawl with the Marauders as well as a bloody and vicious fight with Predator X. If you dig action then you will certainly enjoy X-Men #207.
I thought Carey did a great job with Scott’s character. The writers have done an incredible job growing Scott’s character throughout the Messiah Complex. And Carey continues that strong character work by showing Scott evolving even more with the ending to this story. I liked that Scott was able to step back and examine his motivation for recovering the baby. Scott displays the maturity of a great leader to admit when he is wrong and to allow the baby to choose her own destiny.
The scene between Scott and Cable was handled very well. It was properly dramatic and actually quite emotional. The reader could feel Scott’s pain and his regret that he had failed his son. That this regret was the fuel for Scott not making the same mistake twice with this baby.
I also enjoyed how Carey handled Rogue and Mystique in this issue. I’m glad that we finally cured Rogue of the goofy Strain 88. That plotline was beginning to wear thin with me. I thought that Rogue’s decision to take out Mystique in order to end this twisted circle of violence and manipulation made perfect sense. I also like the tragic twist of Rogue realizing too late that she was clear of every single mind that she had absorbed through her life. That now Rogue is stuck with Mystique’s twisted mind inside of her head. Rogue is the eternal tragic character and Carey does a nice job making the reader feel sorry for Rogue’s unfortunate destiny.
I’m also glad that Carey had Rogue deciding to leave and spend some time alone. Rogue is a good character, but I think that we need a break from her for a while. I would like to see her go away and let the writers figure out a fresh new angle to handle her character.
The Bad: I have to seriously question the logic of ending this mega story arc with Carey when he is the weakest writer of the bunch. Personally, I would have placed the duty of closing out the Messiah Complex in the more talented hands of either Brubaker or David. Marvel really should have really opted to end this story arc with Uncanny X-Men. This was a huge mistake.
As always, I like to break out football (American flavor) analogies to make my point. Imagine being down by 3 points with only two minutes left in the game. On your bench you have Tom Brady, Payton Manning and Matt Schaub and you decide to put Schaub in the game. Schaub is a solid NFL quarterback, but he is no Brady or Manning. And you would never put Schaub in with two minutes left with the game on the line over the other two quarterbacks. That is pretty much what Marvel did with choosing to end the Messiah Complex with Carey instead of either David or Brubaker.
The dialogue was average at best. Most of the time it was bland and lacked any soul or emotion. Outside of Scott, none of the characters displayed much depth to their personalities. Instead, all the characters simply went through the motions like lifeless puppets.
The plotting was a bit of a disappointment. It seems like the writers really rushed through this ending. I think we could have used a bit less set-up for this finale and gotten more time to spend on the actual climax and what the future has in store for the X-Men.
I have never been much of a fan of the Predator X plotline and have always viewed that as the weakest aspect of Messiah Complex. X-Men #207 only serves to bolster that belief. Predator X brought nothing of importance or substance to this story. It was merely a throwaway plotline designed to takes up space and waste some time.
The brawl between X-Force and Predator X was mindless and rather unoriginal. We have seen this fight between the heroes and a seemingly invincible monster hundreds of times before. And the resolution to this battle was stunningly unoriginal. I have seen it plenty of times before where the hero gets the not so novel idea of getting swallowed by said invincible creature in order to blast their way out from the soft insides of the monster leading to the demise of said invincible monster. It was entirely predictable and made for a rather dull experience.
The big bomb to the Messiah Complex turns out to having nothing to do with the baby that everyone has been killing each other in order to get their hands on. Nope. The big bomb to this story arc was Xavier’s “death.” Meh. I was expecting something more interesting and original than Xavier’s death. Haven’t we thought Xavier was dead several times before? And do I think that Marvel is going to let Professor X stay dead? No way. Especially since Xavier will be the main character in X-Men: Legacy.
Even though Xavier is not really and truly dead, I still found this “death scene” to be poorly executed. Talk about going out like a total bitch. This “death” was utterly inappropriate for a character the status of Charles Xavier. Hell, even Caliban a no-name D-list character got a much cooler and more heroic death than Professor X. Honestly, having Bishop accidently shoot Professor X was so random and goofy. I think that simply having a giant anvil fall out of the air and kill Xavier would have made just as much sense.
Professor X’s “death” came across terribly forced. Xavier’s “death” comes across in a hurried and rushed manner that lacks any impact or meaning. Like I said, you might get away with doing this with a minor character, but you simply cannot with a character of the mighty stature of Professor X.
And what a terrible job Carey did with the reaction of the various X-Men to Professor X’s “death.” Charles just got his head blown off and everyone reacts with a ho-hum response. It is as if they had all walked into Professor X’s room and found out that he had quietly passed away in his sleep.
Even Caliban sparked more of a reaction out of Warpath than Xavier did out of a single one of his students. You would think a bit more emotion would be expected rather than everyone standing around stone faced and solemn. I mean, c’mon, they just saw their father figure and mentor get his head blown off right in front of them. That should ignite some type of emotional reaction from the various X-Men.
Now, let’s talk about the other character that got ruined with this poorly planned and executed “death”: Bishop. Let me state up front that I have never been a Bishop fan at all. I could care less if Bishop lived or died. So, my criticism on the handling of Bishop’s character isn’t based on me being a rabid fan of Bishop.
This move of making Bishop a villain didn’t work for me. Bishop has been exposed as a total nut job who is willing to kill his teammates in order to further his fanatical mission. Bishop engineered a brutal attack on the X-Mansion that led to serious injuries to his old teammates. Bishop then shows his willingness to kill both Forge and Cable in order to carry out his mission. And now we see Bishop killing off the greatest character in X-Men history.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love a good heel turn as much as anyone. I totally dig it when a hero turns heel. It can revive a hero who has gotten stale or has gotten stuck in a rut. But, in order to pull off a proper heel turn the writers must employ the necessary psychology that leads up to the heel turn. And that is the major flaw in Bishop’s heel turn.
Yeah, we got some hastily thrown together motivation for Bishop’s heel turn in the future plotline during the Messiah Complex. But, that is too little too late. If you are going to make a hero like Bishop morph into a hardcore villain like he was in this storyline then you had better lay the foundation and psychology for his heel turn far in advance of Messiah Complex.
There are certainly X-Men that I could easily see making a heel turn. Warpath, Gambit, Wolverine, Emma Frost and Wolfsbane. They all are characters that are written in such a style that I could easily see any of them making a heel turn. Personally, I think Wolverine is a character that is just begging to make a heel turn. At any rate, the fact remains that I never got that impression from Bishop’s character.
The decision to disband the X-Men completely failed to work for me. The reason for that is that the rational for disbanding the X-Men lacked any internal logic. Professor X is a classic martyr character. He is the man who has a dream for a better future for his people and it is his death and his dream that is supposed to inspire his followers to pick up his mantle and carry on their brave fight to make his dream a reality.
Imagine in Braveheart if after William Wallace is killed if the Scots then decided “Oh well. William is dead. And with that so is his dream for freedom for Scotland. All right, guys lets go home and have some haggis.” No. That is a wasted death of a martyr and it lacks any logic. When the martyr dies, the followers are inspired more than ever to fight even harder to make the martyr’s dream a reality.
I think it would have been a much more interesting and compelling read for Scott to assume Xavier’s heavy crown and play the role of the patriarch of the X-Men family and the Xavier Institute. We would get to see some important and quality character work with Scott’s character. And maybe Scott would get a newfound respect for the tough decisions that Xavier was forced to make while leading the X-Men.
I also found the resolution to the chase for the baby to be anti-climactic. We go through all this fighting and chasing just for Scott to hand the baby back to Cable. Yeah, I get the character work that the writers were trying to pull off with Scott in this scene, but it just made a lot of the fighting and running around to be a bit pointless. And I can’t say that I’m particularly interested in reading a comic book centered on Cable running around with this baby in tow.
And I have to hope and pray that the boys at Marvel are just playing with the reader by making this baby a female with red hair and green eyes as well as having the baby play with Scott’s locket that has the picture of Scott with Jean. I swear that this baby had better not turn out to be Jean Grey reincarnated. For the love of god, just let the woman stay dead already!
Bachalo’s art was just atrocious. I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on most of the time. The action scenes look like a box of crayons puked all over the page. The decision to end Messiah Complex with Bachalo was a terrible one.
Overall: Personally, I found X-Men #207 to be a bit of a disappointing ending to the Messiah Complex. This was a wild ride of a story arc that simply ended with a thud. I’m sure plenty of X-fans will be completely excited with this new direction for the X-Men franchise. This ending to Messiah Complex certainly delivers on the promise to shake up the X-Men franchise. I’m just not too sure if it is for the better. At any rate, I’ll keep an open mind and hope for the best with this new direction for the X-Men.
Next month X-Men transforms into X-Men: Legacy which is centered around Xavier and his examination of the past and how he has impacted the various characters from the X-Men franchise. I will admit that this title has plenty of potential to be an intriguing read. It should be interesting to see Xavier interacting with the various villains and heroes from the X-Men franchise. And X-Men: Legacy should also provide for plenty of character growth for Xavier.
Uncanny X-Men deals with the disbanding of the Xavier Institute. Since Iron Man makes an appearance in the upcoming issue then I would imagine that the X-Men are going to become a part of the government’s group of registered heroes. Since there is pretty much nothing about the Registration Act that even remotely interests me, I cannot say that I am particularly enthused with the direction of this title.
I think that X-Force will probably be short on depth, but certainly should make up for it with plenty of quality excitement and action. I’ll certainly give this title a try.
The other title that spins out of the Messiah Complex is Cable’s title. Like I said before, the writers simply didn’t do enough with the baby to get me interested in adding this title to my pull list. I have never been a big fan of Cable and adding a baby to his title doesn’t do anything for me.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Countdown to Final Crisis continues to be an unimpressive read. I simply cannot delude myself into expecting a quality read on Countdown to Final Crisis #14. Maybe Dini and company can prove me wrong, but I seriously doubt it. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Writers: Paul Dini, Tony Bedard & Keith Giffen
Art: Pete Woods, Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Superman-Prime about to snap Forerunner’s neck. Solomon the Monitor tells Superman-Prime that the Earth that Prime has been searching for is none other than Earth-51. Solomon points to a video screen that shows Monarch’s forces destroying Earth-51. Superman-Prime is enraged and screams that they are ruining his Earth. Superman-Prime then blasts off for Earth-51.
Forerunner compliments Solomon on his quick and crafty thinking in getting rid of Superman-Prime. Forerunner then says that she has come here to kill the Monitors.
We slide over to Earth-51 and more specifically the Bat-Bunker. Batman has agreed with Jason to go ahead and enter the battlefield and to go out in a blaze of glory. Batman gives Jason a new uniform that was specifically designed for Earth-51’s Jason and his new role of having grown past his Robin stage. Unfortunately, Jason died before Batman could ever give him the new outfit.
We see our Jason putting on the outfit. Batman says that Jason’s new codename is Red Robin. Jason stands there wearing the Red Robin outfit from Kingdom Come.
We shift to the evil Donna Troy arriving back to Queen Belthera’s ship. Evil Donna tells Belthera that she failed, but that she will bring Belthera Donna Troy. Belthera tells Evil Donna to leave immediately and return with Donna. Evil Donna then says that Donna is already here. Swerve, it is Donna posing in evil Donna’s costume.
Donna proceeds to whip Belthera like a rented mule. After defeating Belthera, the insect army that Belthera commands then swear allegiance to their new Queen, Donna Troy. Kyle and Ray then arrive on the scene and are stunned at what they see.
We cut to Monarch deciding that he needs to end this conflict now. That the Monitors are proving too hard to defeat with just Monarch’s soldiers. Monarch tells his troops to pull back unless they want to be incinerated by his blast. One of Monarch’s troops suddenly notices an incoming object. Monarch dismisses it as a missile that must be aimed for their engines. The troop says that it isn’t a missile and that it is headed straight for Monarch. We then see Superman-Prime rip through the wall and tell Monarch that he is dead. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Gorilla Grodd. End of issue.
The Good: I’m surprised. Countdown #14 wasn’t that bad of a read. I actually enjoyed a fair amount of this issue. The dialogue was average. It wasn’t anything great, but at least it was an improvement over the dreadful dialogue we got in the last issue of Countdown. The pacing was solid. Dini and company finally give us some progression on this big battle raging on Earth-51. Dini and company certainly serve up a huge heaping helping of action in this issue that also helps to make Countdown #14 a pretty fast read.
The scenes that I liked the most were the ones involving Batman and Jason Todd, or should I say Red Robin. I dig this Punisher-styled Batman. He has a balls-to-the-wall attitude and certainly knows how to kick ass. I loved the scene where Batman shoves a green Kryptonite pill down an evil Supergirl’s throat. The Earth-51 Batman certainly will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I like this extreme version of Batman. I will admit up front that I have always been a sucker for a more aggressive and angry Batman.
I really enjoyed the scene where Batman gives Jason Todd the new outfit that Batman had specifically made for the Earth-51 Jason Todd. Seeing Todd in the Red Robin outfit was pretty cool. I have always thought that Jason Todd’s character has tons of potential. And I enjoyed his character prior to Infinite Crisis. However, DC has terribly mishandled Jason’s character since the end of Infinite Crisis. Maybe, DC is finally figuring out what to do with Jason’s character and what his role in the DCU will be. I’m perfectly fine with Jason becoming Red Robin.
Red Robin also is one vicious bad-ass. Seeing Red Robin ripping out Superwoman’s eyes was just sick. I like how Red Robin shows no fear or hesitation when faced with opponents that possess far greater powers. Jason’s deadly demeanor is a nice way to distinguish him from the other Robins. Dick and Tim are already almost identical. We don’t need a third version that is the same.
Now, I know I have voiced displeasure over Superman-Prime’s character during Countdown. And he certainly is a one-dimensional character. However, I liked how Superman-Prime was used in this issue. Prime works best when he is employed as a weapon of mass destruction by another character rather than Prime operating on his own. Solomon’s crafty manipulation of Superman-Prime was brilliant. Not only does Solomon save his own skin, but he also introduces a new player to the battlefield who might be the only one capable of killing Monarch.
Dini and company end Countdown #14 with a pretty good hook ending. We get the twist of Donna arriving on the battle field with her new army of insect creatures who used to serve Belthera. And we get the two heavy hitters squaring off as Superman-Prime and Monarch look to throw down with each other. That is enough to get me curious about what happens in the next issue.
The Bad: There are still numerous warts on Countdown #14. The plotting continues to be rather weak. Dini and company have simply left so many of the various plotlines like the ones involving Mary Marvel, Holly Robinson, Jimmy Olsen and the Pied Piper to simply languish like a dying vine twisting in the wind.
I could still care less about Forerunner. She is such a generic and bland character. I was actually rather disappointed that Superman-Prime didn’t kill her off and mercifully end her dull plotline.
I continue to care less about Monarch. I just don’t get this character at all. I still have no idea why Captain Atom made such a dramatic heel turn. Monarch’s character has been poorly handled from the start. The writers have spent no time delving into his character and trying to flesh out his personality. Instead all we get with Monarch is an incredibly generic and one dimensional villain. I really hope that Superman-Prime kills Monarch so we can put an end to what has been such a dud of a villain.
The fight between Donna and Belthera was a total miss with me. The reason that there was no emotion or impact with this supposedly big showdown is that the writers totally failed to give the reader any character development with Belthera. Instead, Belthera comes across as a random generic villain that was hastily cobbled together for Countdown. I never got a sense of any drama or a well developed feud between Donna and Belthera. It seemed like the writers were trying to make it like this was some big long anticipated clash. It wasn’t.
Overall: Countdown #14 wasn’t a great read, but it was at least average. And an average read is a real rarity on Countdown. Maybe Dini and company will be able to craft some type of satisfactory ending to this title that helps ease the sour taste that the majority of the issues have left in the reader’s mouth. I still don’t recommend you wasting your hard earned money on this title.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #14
LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #38
SUPERMAN BATMAN #45
TEEN TITANS #55
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #548
ASTONISHING X-MEN #24
IRON MAN #25
MARVEL ADVENTURES IRON MAN #9
ULTIMATE IRON MAN II #2
ULTIMATES 3 #2
No Top 10 or any random musings for this week. I am slammed at work as I am in the middle of some complex litigation at the moment. Therefore, I have to make this quick. Let’s check out the comic books for this week. It looks like we have a total of 11 titles headed to the Bunker this week. This week’s shipment of comic books is a bit heavier with Marvel titles than DC titles.
Which DC comic book am I most looking forward to reading? Oh, this is just too easy. It simply has to be Legion of Super Heroes #38. I was stunned by how fantastic Shooter was with his debut issue on this title. Shooter brought back that magic Legion feeling to a title that has been limping along half-dead for decades. Now is a great time to be a Legion fan. And if you haven’t read this title before or gave up on it a while back then this is a perfect time to hop back aboard this train.
Which DC comic book am I least looking forward to reading? This is also an easy one. It has to be Countdown to Final Crisis #14. This title continues to be a dreadful read and I simply cannot hold out any rational hope that we are going to get a quality ending to this story. I will continue to suffer through having to chronicle this title in order to save people from having to waste their hard earned money on this pathetic excuse for a comic book.
Which Marvel comic book am I most looking forward to reading? Well, this is a tough decision. We actually have a really strong selection of comic books headed our way from the House of Ideas. Astonishing X-Men #24 is sure to be a strong read. Whedon’s run on this title has been an absolute blast even with the shipping issues that have plagued this title.
Iron Man #25 is another issue that should provide for an incredibly strong read. The Knaufs have done a masterful job on this title easily making Iron Man one of Marvel’s best titles.
However, the issue that I am most looking forward to reading would be X-Men #207. This issue is the dramatic conclusion of the fantastic Messiah Complex story arc. I have loved Messiah Complex from the very start and I am sure that the boys at Marvel have something pretty wild in store for us with the conclusion of Messiah Complex.
Which Marvel comic book am I least looking forward to reading? That would be Ultimates 3 #2. What Loeb gives us on this title is a far cry of the incredible work that Millar cranked out on this title.
I’ll try my best to start posting reviews as soon as possible. I hope everyone enjoys their new comic books for this week.
Posted by Rokk Krinn at 1:48 PM