Saturday, May 31, 2008

Comicbook Review: Ultimate Spider-Man 122


Creative Team
Writing: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade von Grawbadger
Colorist: Justin Ponsor


Issue Rating
Story: 8 out of 10
Art: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.5 out of 10


Story Developments
While trying to film some stuff on the streets of New York for MJ's brocasting club Peter and MJ hear Shocker attempting to rob another bank. Peter puts on his Spider-man costume and does short work of Shocker. As Spider-man is webbing up Shocker he is caught of guard when Shocker attacks him and as Shocker makes his escape he takes Spider-man with him.


MJ, who filmed the whole battle, calls Kitty Pride for help in finding Peter and after viewing the video Kitty agrees to help find Peter. Kitty than decides to go to the cops and get them to help her find Spider-man.

Spider-man with his mask taken off is seen hanging from the ceiling of a warehouse in chains as Shocker tells him a little history about himself and why he does what he does, while als punching and using his "shockers" on Peter every so often. As Shocker continues to tell his story Peter is able to break out of the chains and knocks out the Shocker. As Peter is about to finish Shocker of Kitty arrives, finding Peter and the Shocker with the help of MJ and the cops, to stop him. Before the cops arrive Kittyputs Peter's Spider-man mask back on him and leaves with Peter, who is half conscious, while the cops enter the warehouse and arrest Shocker.

Comments
Coming out of an average one and done issue last month Ultimate Spider-man 122 was an improvement. It is issues like this that make me wish Bendis would write more solo titles than team books. With books like Ultimate Spider-Man and his past run on Daredevil is were Bendis writing skills really because he is able focus much more on one main character and his supporting cast that all have their external voices while also giving the reader an intriguing villain to oppose the hero. But when Bendis writes team books, i.e. the two Avengers books, Bendis writting is less focus and he is not able to give all the characters their own external voices instead he writes all the characters to have generic voices and villains that have zero motivation outside of ruiling the world. It also seems that Bendis uses this title to poke fun at the regular 616-Universe and he did once in this issue with the women dressed as I believe Psylock screaming "Who can you trust" which is the tagline to Secret Invasion.

The reason I loved this issue was because for the first time ever I actually started to get interested in the Shocker character. In truth the Shocker both in the 616-Universe and Ultimate Universe has never really interested me and always felt that he was one of the lamest Spider-man villains. But with this issue I actually felt sympathy for poor old Shocker because the Ultimate version of the character seems like a guy that has never caught a break in his life and almost everyone he's known has taken advatage at him. In his previous apperrances Ultimate Shocker was just Spider-man's punching bag of the week and had the least development of all of Spidey's villains. But now the reader is able to understand that this is a guy that has been screwed over so many times in his life that it is understandable his only invention that wasn't taken from him to rob banks.

I loved that even though Peter was hanging from the ceiling of a warehouse without his mask off he was still able to keep his cool and still make fun of the Shocker even if he was defeated. This shows that Peter has matured with his role as Spider-man and now seems to be used to having his masked pulled of by yet another villain. Now with Shocker, even though he doesn't know Spider-man identity, almost every one of the Ultimate Spider-man villains know how he looks like behind the mask. Peter is probably just used to being unmasked by everyone he fights every other week. And by having so many people know his identity it helps to see how different Ultimate Spider-Man is from the 616-Spider-man.

One of the best parts of this issue was getting to see MJ and Kitty interacting with one another without Peter or anyone else around. I actually think this is the first time that both girls have interacted with one another alone were they actually have a conversation. I could actually feel the tension between both characters and MJ's look when Kitty ask her why she didn't contact Johnny was priceless. In truth now with Liz attending the Xavier School I can actually see Bendis building these two up to become good friends since they both don't really have many people to talk to, with MJ losing her best friend and Kitty having left her friends back at the Xavier School.

That brings me to Peter because it is obvious that Kitty still has a thing for him and that Peter still might also have feelings for Kitty. It is hard for me to think that Peter doesn't have any romatic feelings for Kitty especially since that relationship ended so quickly. Maybe it is because I actually like their relationship but I think there are really a lot of good stories oppurtunities especially if MJ and Kitty actually become friends and Kitty continues to fight villains with Spider-man as partners.

I also found it interesting that we yet again meet another guy that has been screwed over by the Roxxon company. So far Doc Ock, the Venom symbiote, Sandman, Omega Red, The Vulture, Silver Sable, and now Shocker all have had some involvement with Roxxon in one form or another. It seems as though Bendis is building Roxxon up as more involved with all the events that have occurred in the Ultimate Universe. While I am not reading any of the other ongoing Ultimate titles I find it interesting that Bendis seems to have been using these past 10 or so issues to suitally build up interest in the Ultimate Origins mini series that will be come out in July which will be followed by the Ultimatum mini.

I now a lot of people like Immonen art but I am just not a fan of his art and find his work on this title to be average. Don't get me wrong because I think that he draws great action scenes but the strength of this has never been the action but all the characters in Peter Parker's life outside of his life as Spider-man. Peter and Kitty continue to look like their twelve while MJ looks like she is 21. In truth Peter actually looked like a 16-17 year old while he was hanging upside which is probably because of all the blood rushing to his head.

Overall: Again Ultimate Spider-man proves that it is the best Spider-man title on the market. And with this OMD/BND debacle over in the 616-Universe it's great to be able to read a Spider-man title that has nothing to do with BND. I actually dropped all Amazing Spider-man even before OMD from my pull list and have not picked up that title since. So reading Ultimate Spider-man is great because I am able to still read great stories about my favorite comicbook character and save an extra $10 that I would have to waste to be able to read Amazing Spider-man which I used pick up another title. So I hope you all enjoyed my first comicbook review and I will try and post at least four more reviews later this week.

Comic Book Review: Marvel 1985 #1

The Revolution has been curious about Millar’s Marvel 1985 for a while. This title sounds like it has the potential to be a neat little read. I always dig a story that involves multiple Earths. I have confidence that Millar will be able to hook me into this mini-series with Marvel 1985 #1. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer
: Mark Millar
Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards

Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a scene of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1961 creating the Marvel universe. Or so they thought… We then cut to 1985 with the events of Secret Wars. (Oh man, that story was dumb.) We see Doom kill the Beyonder and then attack our assembled heroes.

We then cut to a young boy named Toby reading Secret Wars #10 at his local comic book shop. Toby is enthralled with Secret Wars (Well, I suppose the story would appeal to someone around the age of 10 years old) and has the owner of the comic shop get him the first nine issues and add Secret Wars to his regular pull list. Toby also adds Daredevil, only if Frank Miller is coming back. (Good choice. Miller’s Daredevil was awesome.)

One of the employees at the comic shop derides Toby for being a Marvel zombie and not reading truly great comic books like Cerebus and Love and Rockets. Toby then spies a toy figure of H.E.R.B.I.E. from the old Fantastic Four cartoon. Toby says that he didn’t know they ever made a H.E.R.B.I.E. toy. The owner of the comic shop responds that he got it at a local junk shop this very morning. The owner says that the funny thing is that they never made a H.E.R.B.I.E. toy.

We see Toby walking home. He thinks about how his parents got a divorce and his mother got remarried. Toby has barely uttered three words to his stepfather. Toby thinks how he stated picking up comic books again when he was thirteen years old after two years of trying hard to be a normal person. His parents divorce and a random issue of Iron Man (The boy clearly has good taste) was all it took to reel him back into this simple world where every problem could be solved in twenty-four pages.

We see Toby arrive at his house. His father is there talking to his stepfather. Evidently, Toby’s dad, Jerry, has been strapped for cash since his band broke up and Jerry had to get rid of his car because he could not afford it. Of course, Toby’s stepfather, Hart, has a good job and just bought a new Cadillac. (Pimp.)

Toby and Jerry then walk off to the old Wyncham House in the woods that has just been sold. Evidently, someone is going to turn it into a nursing home. During their walk, Jerry tells Toby that he read some of Toby’s comic books and that the X-Men stuff was fantastic in particular the “Dark Phoenix” issues and the “Proteus” story. (Oh yeah, I remember those days when Uncanny X-Men was truly one of the best comic books on the market.)

Toby answers that Hart thinks comic books are a waste of time. Hart says that Toby should get his head out of the clouds and make more of an effort in school. Jerry says that Hart is probably correct. That there isn’t a job in the world where you need to know Giant-Man’s secret identity. Jerry tells Toby that he doesn’t want to end up dumb and broke like his father. Jerry says that Hart is good to Toby and his mother and that Toby doesn’t need to hate Hart to please Jerry.

The father and son arrive at the old Wyncham House. Jerry used to be friends with Clyde Wyncham when they were kids. That Clyde ended up having an accident and became brain damaged. A small man wearing dark glasses and looking suspiciously like the Mole Man asks Toby and Jerry if he can help them.

Jerry says he had friend that grew up here. The small man then says that they are cleaning out the home to turn into a big hotel. The small man asks Toby if he likes comic books because when they cleaned out the house they found a bunch of them. Toby and Jerry look at the box of comics and notice that it contains valuable issues like X-Men #1, Hulk #1, Spider-Man #1 and Fantastic Four #1. The small man looks at Jerry and says “Fantastic Four?”

Jerry then tells the small man that comic books are worth thousands of dollars and that it wouldn’t be right for Toby and Jerry to take them. Jerry tells the small man to take the comics and sell them to the local comic book shop in town. During this conversation, Toby looks into one of the windows of the old home and sees the Red Skull staring at him. The Red Skull then disappears from the window.

We cut to school the next day. Toby tells his friend Darius that he saw someone dressed like the Red Skull at the Wyncham House. Darius replies that Toby keeps getting weirder and that Darius is going to get beat up for hanging out with Toby. Toby then says that he also met a creepy midget guy who looked really familiar to him. Toby wishes he could remember where he knows him from.

We shift to that night with Toby’s mom ranting to Toby about what a bum and a stiff his father is. That Jerry should have taken the comic books and sold them for thousands. Instead the comic book shop owner bought all of them for eighty dollars. Toby’s mom calls Jerry an idiot.

Toby then sees a news report about some strange bald man in a green bird outfit on the rooftop of the Town Hall. The news report shows a picture of the mysterious man and it is none other than the Vulture. Toby freaks out.

Toby calls Darius who lives next door. The two stand in their bedroom windows to look at each other as they talk. Darius says that it was just a guy in a costume pulling a prank. Toby says he is going to go investigate the Wyncham House tonight. Darius refuses to go saying that they are too old to be playing “Nancy Drew” (Wait a minute; you don’t know who Nancy Drew is?) Toby counters by asking if Darius is wearing a Masters of the Universe t-shirt. Darius pauses and sheepishly answers “Yes.”

We cut to Toby making his way over to the Wyncham House that night. Toby thinks that he must be crazy to believe that comic book characters have come to life. But, that if they are real then maybe all of this problems can be solved in twenty-four pages, too.

Toby crouches in the shrubs next to the house and sees Dr. Doom talking with the Mole Man. Doom complains about having to live in this miserable hose surrounded by idiots. Mole Man reminds Doom that it is only for a little while. That once they have done the great man’s bidding then this world of his will be theirs for the taking.

Mole Man says that there are no super heroes on this world. Doom comments that the “great man” is playing Mole Man and the others. Doom says that the man’s mutant powers have no influence over him. Mole Man counters that the great man ripped a hole from their world to his. That they cannot disobey him. That Doom must think of the consequences. Doom scoffs that he never thinks of the consequences.

We then see Dr. Doom setting a bunch of furniture from inside the house on fire. Toby is stunned and mutters “Jeez.” Dr. Doom hears Toby. Toby then runs and is chased by Mole Man’s underground creatures. Toby runs through the woods thinking how they are all real. The Red Skull, Dr. Doom, Mole Man and the Vulture. They are all real.

Toby keeps running until he suddenly runs into something that knocks him on his butt. Toby looks up and sees the Hulk staring at him. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Marvel 1985 #1 was an enjoyable read. This was a pleasantly paced issue. Millar takes his time setting up the story. I like the measured pace of this story that slowly builds in intensity and then explodes for an exciting ending. Marvel 1985 #1 is well plotted as Millar clearly has a well constructed story and is moving the story along with a purpose. Millar does a fine job placing all the various players into place and then teasing the reader with a couple of interesting plotlines.

Millar whips up some solid dialogue. The dialogue has an enjoyable realistic and natural flow to it. Each of the characters are surprisingly well developed for just the first issue. Millar impressed me by being able to give the reader a good sense of each character’s personality in just a few panels. Millar also injects some good humor into this issue. All the dialogue between Toby and Darius was pretty funny.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Millar unfolds this story. Millar makes sure that he sets the scene properly. The reader truly buys into the fact that we are reading about our Earth. I know that Marvel likes to boast that the 616 universe is “realistic.” But, honestly, at no point have I ever read a Marvel comic and thought the 616 universe was like ours. Millar does his job by making the Earth in Marvel 1985 #1 feel just like ours. And getting the reader to this Earth as our world was critical in allowing the reader to just as stunned and amazed as Toby was when he sees the appearance of Marvel characters.

I love Toby’s character. This is a kid that I can relate with. I liked the home problems that Toby is dealing with. I can completely understand his using comic books as a form of escapism from the real world. I did the same at his age. It was the only way to transport myself away from the crappy barrio I lived in full of losers doing nothing and going nowhere. Millar does a great job fleshing out Toby’s character in this issue.

My enjoyment of Marvel 1985 #1 also stems from the fact that I was a little kid in 1985. This is the Marvel universe that I grew up with and loved dearly. It just feels right to see this era of Marvel heroes and villains. I am looking forward to seeing the various heroes in all their 1980’s glory.

Millar immediately won my heart with the opening scene. I loved the one page splash shot of the two icons in Jack Kirby and Stan Lee standing together as they begin to create the 616 universe. It doesn’t get much better than Kirby and Lee. Nuff said.

The scene at the comic book shop was perfect. You know that you have these type of fanboys at your local comic book shop as well. You have the indie comic book snob who sneers down the edge of his nose at anything published by the big two. This guy is clearly too far evolved to read your mainstream super hero titles and is simply too smart for you.

And then there is the Marvel zombie that populates many local comic book shops. This is the guy that will purchase anything by Marvel regardless of how putrid the story is or not. Marvel could publish a story with stick figures and dialogue written by chimpanzees and the Marvel zombie would buy it and add the extra opinion that DC sucks.

It is too bad that Millar left out the stereotype for the DC comic book fan. He is usually older than the Marvel zombie and immediately dismisses everything Marvel does as all flash and no substance stories centered on ridiculously “grim” and “gritty” characters.

At any rate, the scene in the comic books store was well done and funny. Millar also teases the reader with a strange H.E.R.B.I.E. toy that the owner bought at a junk sale. The odd fact that this toy was never made means that I am going to expect this H.E.R.B.I.E. “toy” to spring to life at some point during this story.

I liked the scene at the Wyncham House with Toby, Jerry and the Mole Man. I geeked out when we saw the Red Skull. I could actually feel Toby’s excitement upon unexpectedly seeing the iconic villain. This was such an enjoyably understated way to introduce both Mole Man and Red Skull for the first time. I particularly liked the fact that after this scene Toby proceeds to rack his brain trying to figure out where he has seen the Mole Man before.

Millar does a brilliant job increasing the intensity and tension in this issue with the news report that Toby is watching while his mother rants about Toby’s father. What is so well done is that the reader, following Toby’s lead, tunes out the dialogue from Toby’s mother as we get reeled in by the news report and then see the one page splash shot of the Vulture. Once again, Millar gets the reader to share Toby’s “Oh shit!” moment perfectly.

Millar ends Marvel 1985 #1 with a great hook ending. Millar teases the reader with a mysterious mutant who Mole Man refers to as the “great man.” All we know is that this character possess mutant powers strong enough for him to rip a hole between our world and the Earth-616. The reader also learns that the 616 villains are to do this mysterious character’s bidding and in return the 616 villains will get our world as their own. This plotline immediately piqued my interest and I cannot wait to learn more about this “great man.”

Millar then cranks up the intensity as we see Toby racing through the woods as he is begin chased my Mole Man’s creatures and then slamming into the Hulk. I love the one page splash shot of a stunned Toby still reeling from all that he saw at the Wyncham House now looking up into the face of the green goliath. This ending got me on the edge of my seat and immediately made me want to come back for the next issue.

Of course, I am a total sucker for a multiple Earths story. Our “real” Earth has shown up in older DC comic books as Earth-Prime where there were no super heroes. On Earth-Prime, super heroes only existed in comic books. I dig this playful concept of heroes from an alternate Earth arriving at our “real” Earth where heroes only exist in comic books. I liked it when DC did these stories and I like it now from Marvel.

The Bad: I am just not a fan of Tommy Lee Edwards’ artwork at all. I found it to be way too sketchy and rough for my tastes. The inking was too dull and muddy. The art made Marvel 1985 #1 a visually drab and boring issue.

Overall: Marvel 1985 #1 was such a pleasant surprise. Now, this is definitely not a fast issue nor does it have any action to speak of. However, Marvel 1985 #1 is a great set-up issue that does its job of getting the reader sucked into this story. If you are the type of reader who prefers faster paced stories and plenty of action then I would not recommend getting Marvel 1985 #1. However, if you don’t mind a story that is lacking in action then I would certainly recommend you giving Marvel 1985 #1 a try. Plus, we all know that at some point Millar is going to deliver the action in spades. Marvel 1985 #1 is a solid and entertaining issue that is worth the cover price.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Comic Book Review: Batman #677: Batman RIP

The Revolution enjoyed Morrison’s much anticipated debut issue of the Batman RIP story arc. There is no doubt that Morrison has a wild story in store for us. I fully expect for Morrison to crank up the intensity with Batman #677. I have a feeling that this issue is going to be an exceptional issue. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Batman #677.

Creative Team
Writer
: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Tony Daniel
Inks: Sandu Florea

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Batman brutally beating up a thug in the sewer. Batman screams for the thug to tell him who the Black Glove is. Commissioner Gordon and the police arrive on the scene to take away the thug. Batman says that the thug must be working for the Black Glove. Gordon responds that he has checked the police database for anything related to the Black Glove and nothing came up other than an old movie. Gordon asks if Batman is sure that some secret criminal mastermind is pulling the strings behind all of these events. Batman disappears from the scene without answering Gordon’s question.

We shift to the Batcave where Batman tells Alfred that he has to pin down the connection between Dr. Simon Hurt and John Mayhew as well as their connection to some other names linked to the Black Glove. Batman tells Alfred that one of the black casebooks was missing from the drawer.

Alfred answers that he has committed all of Batman’s handwritten notes to the Bat-computer. Alfred says it is possible that he left the missing casebook in his desk. Batman is bleeding from a nasty wound from his fight with the thug. Alfred tends to Batman’s wounds.

Batman tells Alfred that The Black Glove is a movie by John Mayhew about two innocent lovers who are corrupted and destroyed by a group of super-rich gamblers. Batman says that the movie is playing at a local theater in Gotham and he instructs Alfred to go watch the movie and see if he can pick up any clues.

Batman asks where Tim is and that he could use Tim’s help. Alfred replies that Tim left two days ago and that recent events have dented his confidence. In particular Batman’s relationship with Damian. Batman replies that that is not what he wanted to happen. Batman then curtly says that they will talk later and for Alfred to leave and go see the movie.

We cut to the League of Villains. Hurt says that the Black Glove is going to teach Batman a lesson he will never forget. That what they are about to do will be a work of art. Nothing less than the complete and utter ruination of a noble human spirit.

Le Bossu inquires if Hurt thinks he can do what not even the Joker and Two-Face or any of the others have been able to do all these years. Hurt replies that no one knows Batman better than he does. That the extreme lengths that Batman has gone through to make himself stronger are powerful indicators of the weakness he feels he must overcome. That weakness is still inside of Batman. The fracture that will break the man.

Hurt says that if Le Bossu’s gargoyle henchman did his job then the Librium on the henchman’s blade will make Batman more susceptible to the induction trigger phrase that Hurt planted all those years ago. Hurt then tells the villains that their targets, Batman’s friends, await. All they have to do is push and Batman will self-destruct.

We cut to Batman arriving at the Batcave with Jet alongside him. Batman shows Jet around his Batcave. Jet is duly impressed and yet at the same time horrified by what she sees. Jet comments that a sane person might see the Batcave and say that Batman was mad.

Batman tells Jet that the Black Glove has targeted them. Bruce says that the invite to the party is a trap. Bruce says that Mayhew already tried to kill him and now the Black Glove is trying to kill him. Bruce says that they are closing in on both he and Jet. Bruce says that Jet needs to stay away from him until all of this is over. Batman grips Jet’s wrists so hard that she says he is hurting her.

Batman apologizes and says that he lives in the dark. That Jet is the best thing that has happened to him for a long time. That he can’t risk her becoming a part of this. Bruce says that when he first met Jet that if felt like he had known her his entire life. That meeting her was always meant to happen.

We hop over to Commissioner Gordon meeting with the Mayor of Gotham. The Mayor tells Gordon that Ed Sheldrake at the Gazette wants to run with a story about Bruce Wayne and his family. Evidently, during the Gotham Grand Central bomb scare a dossier turned up in an empty locker and found its way to the Gazette news desk.

The dossier had the sordid secret of Thomas and Martha Wayne. That Thomas Wayne evidently transformed into a foul mouth and brutal degenerate on booze and hard drugs. That Alfred might actually be Bruce’s father. That Alfred Pennyworth is an actor and his name is a stage name. That Alfred fooled the Waynes.

There is also a picture in the dossier that shows John Mayhew, Mangrove Pierce, Marsha Lamarr, Thomas Wayne and Alfred. Martha Wayne is also in the picture and looks brain-dead and her needle tracks on her arms are visible. The Mayor wonders what terrible things Bruce Wayne saw while he was a child.

Evidently, the dossier was compiled by a detective hired Martha Wayne’s family. Martha’s parents claimed that Thomas Wayne had Martha murdered and faked his own death. The Mayor states that Thomas Wayne might still be alive.

We cut back to Wayne Manor and see thugs jumping out of a plane above the manor. We slide into the Batcave where Jet tells Bruce that Tim, Dick and Alfred are all too scared of him to talk to him bluntly. That Bruce has spent his life and billions of dollars trying to make everyone afraid of him. And the price of fear is truth and intimacy and all things that hold together normal human relationship. However, Jet is not afraid of Bruce. Jet says that she loves him and she will say what Alfred, Dick and Tim are too afraid to say.

Jet then says Bruce has made himself into the Dark Knight who wasn’t there when he needed him. That all of this is a disturbed little boy’s response to his parents’ death. That Bruce is over thirty years old and that this cannot go on. That Bruce could use his wealth and influence in other ways. That he has to think about what he is doing to himself and to impressionable young people. That Bruce needs to talk to somebody. That the Batcave us a gigantic underground museum of death and technology.

Jet then says what if Bruce is not well. Bruce answers that he knows what this looks like but this is how the Black Glove would work. The Black Glove knows everything about him and would know the exact moment that he is most vulnerable. That the Black Glove would try and isolate Bruce and make him question his mission. That the Black Glove would even use Jet as a weapon to make Bruce doubt himself.

Bruce tells Jet to let him show her one more thing that might make her understand the world that he lives in. Bruce takes Jet over to the Bat-computer. Bruce mentions the dead man’s hand that Joker dealt the Batman in Arkham Asylum: two Aces and two 8s. That the eighth letter of the alphabet is “H”. That the cards said “H.A. H.A.”

Jet then says what if the Black Glove is Bruce. Jet says who would hate Batman more than the little boy whose life was sacrificed so that the Batman could live. Who would really know all of Bruce’s weaknesses? Who else could match the Batman’s moves? Who else has Batman’s love of mysteries, games and puzzles and the resources to battle him?

Bruce ignores Jet and says that Hurt had him in an isolation chamber for ten days. That maybe Hurt is the Black Glove. Jet then tells Bruce that she is so sorry. That this is terrible. Bruce says that he could not be the Black Glove. That he knows he has been under pressure these last few years.

Batman stands before the Bat-computer. All of the Bat-computer’s monitors have pictures of graffiti from around Gotham all of the same word: Zur-En-Arrh. Bruce says that he has inputted every scrap of data into the Bat-computer in order for it to detect a pattern. If Bruce is indeed the Black Glove then the Bat-computer will say so.

Bruce stares at the screens and wonders what is wrong with the Bat-computer. That all he sees on the screens is static. Jet comments that Bruce is wrong. Jet says that Bruce is starting to scare her. Jet says that the screens all show graffiti writing the same word. Bruce says that all he sees is static. Bruce asks Jet what the graffiti says. Jet responds that it is gibberish. That it is the same word over and over: Zur-En-Arrh.

Bruce then says “No. Not now.” Bruce stares at the screens and a demonic mask appears and says what if Bruce is falling apart and having some sort of breakdown. Bruce mutters that he is not ready for this. Bruce says that it is now and he is not ready.

Bruce tells Jet that the Commissioner is on the hotline. That there is an emergency. That she has to get out of here and run. Bruce grabs his head and then collapses to the floor. We see Le Bossu and his gargoyle thugs in the Batcave surrounding Jet and Bruce.

Alfred then enters the Batcave and sees that the entire cave has been set on fire. Suddenly, Le Bossu and his thugs brutally attack Alfred. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Batman #677 was an excellently crafted story. Morrison is on top of his game with this story arc and quite clearly pours his heart and soul into this story. Batman #677 was a well paced issue. Morrison begins with a furious and brutal action scene and then eases off the gas as he reduces the pacing to a simmer and slowly brings it up to a boil with a frenzied and heart pounding ending.

Batman #677 is strongly plotted as Morrison unleashes multiple plotlines at the reader. This issue offers the reader a complex read with plenty of substance. It is enjoyable to see how everything that Morrison has been doing during his run on this title has all been leading up to this story arc. Morrison is doing a fine job pulling together all the different long running storylines into one seamless story arc.

Morrison crafts plenty of simply wonderful dialogue. Each character has a well developed voice. The dialogue has a great flow and Morrison is able to generate good chemistry between the various characters.

Morrison sets the tone on this issue early by effectively using the opening scene to show the reader that even Batman’s biggest supporter in Commissioner Gordon is beginning to question Batman’s sanity. At no point does Gordon believe that the Black Glove truly exists. Morrison manages to make Batman look obviously unstable and slightly mad in this opening scene. Batman savagely beats the thug as he barks for answers concerning the Black Glove’s identity with an almost deranged manner.

Morrison continues to get the reader to question Batman’s sanity in the next scene between Batman and Alfred. Batman is normally single minded when dealing with a case, but what Morrison gives us in this scene goes beyond just single minded concentration. Batman is becoming completely and totally obsessed.

I liked the reveal that the only data that Gordon or Batman can turn up on the Black Glove is an old movie entitled the Black Glove by John Mayhew. This was an odd twist. Obviously Jet and Bruce represent the two lovers in the movie who are destroyed and the Club of Villains are playing the roles of the super rich gamblers from the movie.

We also learn about the missing black casebook and how strangely cavalier Alfred is about its disappearance. This is an odd moment that builds off of Alfred’s unusual tactic in the last issue of revealing to Tim that Damian is Batman’s son. Even early in this issue the reader wonders if something is off with Alfred.

It is possible that the Black Glove is using this movie as his inspiration for the method in which he destroys the Batman. Or perhaps Bruce saw this movie and suppressed that memory and is now attempting to bring that movie to life. There are so many possibilities and Morrison is not the kind of writer to introduce something into a story for no reason. I am curious to find out what role the Black Glove movie plays in this story.

I liked the quick scene with the Club of Villains. Morrison uses this scene to show the reader that the Black Glove is such a preeminent threat and that he can accomplish what the Joker and Two-Face have not. This immediately elevates the stature and standing that the Black Glove possesses within Batman’s rogues gallery. Morrison also reveals that everyone connected with Bruce Wayne is now a target.

The scene with the Mayor and Commissioner Gordon was just a sick, nasty and dirty scene. And that is why I loved it so much. Talk about dishing some serious dirt about the Waynes. A dossier suddenly appears at the Gazette full of some horrible secrets about Thomas and Martha Wayne. Morrison just goes wild in this scene. Thomas Wayne a brutish drunken drug addict. Martha Wayne also a drug addict. The Waynes being connected with Pierce and Mayhew. And the best part of it all the incredible assertion that Thomas had Martha murdered and then faked his own death and that Thomas Wayne may still be alive. What an insanely twisted and stunning take on Bruce’s parents and the terrible things that Bruce must have seen as a small child.

Then Morrison builds on top of the earlier suspicious actions by Alfred by having the dossier claim that Alfred is an actor who completely fooled the Waynes about his pedigree and background. Also the fact that Alfred might actually be the true father of Bruce Wayne. This scene succeeds in stoking the reader’s already suspicious view of Alfred in this story arc.

This scene is simply pure genius from Morrison. Only Morrison could take such outlandish ideas and actually make them work perfectly within the context of this story. Now, this entire scene could be a complete red herring. This could certainly be a part of the Black Glove’s plan to not just ruin Batman but also to publicly embarrass and ruin Bruce Wayne as well.

Morrison delivers a wonderfully written scene with Jet and Bruce in the Batcave. This was a seriously intense and powerful scene. Morrison does an excellent job using Jet to deconstruct the Batman to his very core. Morrison exposes Batman’s persona for the warped and bizarre fantasy that it is. This was such a riveting and intriguing perspective on Batman’s character, his Batcave and why Batman does what he does. Seriously, this was a beautifully written scene that I read several times over in order to truly soak it all in.

I dig that Morrison takes the time to explain the scene between the Joker and Batman from DCU #0 and that the hand that Joker dealt Batman said “H.A. H.A.” Morrison deftly keeps the reader guessing as to Bruce’s sanity. Bruce is certainly shown to be completely insane as he accuses Jet of being a possible tool that the Black Glove would use against him.

Then Bruce begins to hallucinate. All Bruce sees is static despite the fact that the Bat-computer screens are clearly showing images of graffiti. And then Bruce sees the strange demonic mask that speaks to him and tells Bruce that he is falling apart and having a nervous breakdown. Bruce has completely descended into madness at this moment.

The best part of this scene is that Morrison already clued the reader in to the fact that the thug in the opening fight scene had his blade laced with Librium. The drug would in turn make Batman more susceptible to the induction trigger phrase that Hurt planted all those years ago. So now the reader’s head is spinning and wondering if Bruce has truly gone insane or if it is just a combination of the Librium and Hurt’s trigger phrase.

Once again, the word “Zur-En-Arrh” makes an appearance. I cannot wait to see how Morrison works in the obscure character of the Batman with superman powers from the planet Zur-En-Arrh. This is such a bizarre plotline and is a credit to Morrison’s talents to take such obscure references and seamlessly incorporate them into a modern story in a pleasant fashion.

Morrison ends Batman #677 with a jaw-dropping hook ending. We see Bruce recognizing that it is happening now and that he is not ready. Then Bruce collapses. WE then see Bruce and Jet surrounded by Bossu and his thugs. Then we see the Batcave engulfed in flames and see Alfred begin brutally attacked. That sick hook ending effectively puts the reader on the edge of their seat and has them anxiously wanting more.

I am curious to learn just what Bruce was referencing when he mentions that “it” is happening and that he is not ready. Morrison just keeps riddles and puzzles flying at the reader all through out this issue.

And that is what makes Batman #677 such a captivating and engrossing read. Morrison constantly peppers the reader with multiple mysteries and possibilities to the point that the reader doesn’t know which way is up and which way is down.

Morrison keeps the reader guessing with various suspects who could secretly be the Black Glove. Is it the “actor” posing as a dutiful butler in Alfred? Is Jet? Could she be a part of the Black Glove? After all, her name is “Jezebel.” That has to be an obvious sign of something bad. Maybe Thomas Wayne is still alive and is acting as the Black Glove and is orchestrating everything. Of course, maybe the Black Glove is Bruce Wayne himself? And there is still the possibility that the Black Glove is someone that the reader hasn’t met just yet.

Morrison delivers so many viable theories that the reader’s head is spinning trying to come to grips with what we just read in Batman #677. There is definitely tons to digest in this issue and it will take the reader some time to try and get their thoughts in order once they finish reading this issue. Batman RIP is just such a delightfully insane story that very few writers outside of Morrison could effectively pull off.

Oh yeah, and to top it all off, at the end of the issue we see the teaser line for the next issue stating that we will get the “shocking return of the first Batman!” What? I love it!

Tony Daniel provides plenty of his usual excellent artwork. It is nice to see Morrison’s fantastic story arc being done justice by such a talented artist.

The Bad: The one thing that Morrison has failed to do during his run on this title is to get me to ever buy into the Jet/Bruce relationship. I found this relationship to be poorly handled. This relationship feels artificial and was not allowed to evolve organically. Instead Morrison forced this relationship because it was a necessary ingredient for the Batman RIP story arc.

Now, there is no doubt that I am enjoying this ride. However, I have to admit that I do not have any interest at all in another character other than Bruce being the Batman. None at all. But, this is such a well crafted story that I will enjoy it till the end and if Bruce is removed as Batman then I’ll just drop the title until Bruce makes his eventual return as the Batman.

Overall: Batman #677 was just an amazing issue. Morrison delivers a story that is technically well written. This issue pretty much has everything that a story could ever possess. There is action, adventure, mystery, suspense, drama, madness, deceit and impressive character work. There really isn’t much more that a reader can ask from a comic book than what Morrison gives us in Batman #677. If you still haven’t hopped aboard Batman RIP then I strongly urge you to do so. This is one of the best stories currently on the market and is well worth your money.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Comic Book Review: Final Crisis #1

Final Crisis #1 is finally here. I have been anxiously awaiting this issue. I am confident that Morrison is going to deliver a wonderfully crafted read on this title. Now, I fully expect Final Crisis #1 to be a relatively slow read. Morrison is a patient writer who is obsessed with the smallest details. Also, set-up issues are notoriously slow reads. It is simply the nature of the beast. At any rate, let’s go ahead and do this review for Final Crisis #1.

Creative Team
Writer
: Grant Morrison
Artist: J.G. Jones

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 in the Stone Age with Metron appearing before Anthro and giving him the knowledge of fire. We cut to a bunch of cave-men attacking a village of early men. The cave-men are slaughtering the men and the old people. We see one cave-man about to rape a girl. Suddenly, Anthro appears on the scene and uses his new gift of fire to destroy the enemy cave-men.

We cut to the present day and see Dan Turpin lighting up a cigarette while thinking how fire was mankind’s very first mistake. Dan thinks how every good idea that the human race creates is used to kill ourselves. Dan mentions that he has been out on the trail for three weeks trying to find six missing kids.

Dan opens up a garbage container and is stunned to find a badly beaten Orion lying among the garbage. Orion says that heaven has been cracked and broken. Orion yells “They did not die! He is in you all… Fight.” Orion then slumps to the ground dead. We see the Black Racer in the sky watching the scene.

We cut to John Stewart at his office building. The sky has turned black and there is red lightning crashing down to the Earth. John is informed by his power ring that a 1011 is in progress. John transforms into his Green Lantern outfit and openly wonders what a “1011” is.

We slid back to Dan Turpin deciding to leave Orion’s body and thinking that it feels like sacrilege him being here. Dan decides to let the space cops handle the situation. We then see Dan meeting up with Renee Montoya. Montoya mentions how the six missing children had metagenes. That somebody has been targeting meta kids. Montoya then hands Dan a Dark Side Club flyer and exits the scene.

We see Hal Jordan and John Stewart arriving at the location where Orion’s body is lying. There is a Mr. Miracle poster on the wall of a nearby warehouse. John asks if Hal has ever heard of a “1011?” Hal responds that a 1011 is deicide and it doesn’t happen that often, Hal immediately recognizes Orion and tells John that Orion was a number one cosmic hard-ass. Hal then reports this to the Guardians.

We cut to Oa where the Guardians order Earth to be sealed and that no one is to leave or enter Earth’s atmosphere. They order for the Lanterns to dust for radiation prints and to interrogate all suspects. That a 1011 requires a vast energy expenditure and for Hal and John to locate the weapon. The Guardians then state that a special operations Alpha Lantern unit is on the way.

We hop over to Empress, Sparx, and Mas y Menos arriving at a hill full of mirrors surrounding Metron’s chair. Empress says that her visions told her that they would find it here. Sparx says that this is a major launch for the League of Titans. Suddenly, Dr. Light appears on the scene and blasts his light beams into the mirrors which causes the light beams to ricocheted around and blast all four heroes.

Mirror Master emerges from the mirrors and comments that he and Dr. Light make a pretty good team. We then cut to the Justice League of America helping the police arrest thirty super villains who were staging a protest march against vigilante brutality. We slide back to Mirror Master and Dr. Light getting the chair of Metron. Mirror Master wonders what Libra wants the chair of Metron for.

Dr. Light then asks if Mirror Master knows anyone who can get him some pharmaceuticals. That Dr. Light has a date with Giganta and that Arthur Light never likes to let a lady down. Mirror Master is totally entertained with the notion of Light on a date with the “monster wummin.” Dr. Light then tells Mirror Master to zip it. That they will deliver the chair of Metron to Libra and keep their personal lives personal.

We shift to Libra’s headquarters where Lex Luthor is still unimpressed with Libra’s plan. Lex and the other big name villains like Vandal Savage and Gorilla Grodd are not ready to hand Libra the reigns to the Secret Society. Libra retorts that he does not want to take their place.

Libra mentions that the villains always lose because the heroes’ actions are in accordance with a higher moral order. But, what happens in a world where good has lost its perpetual struggle against evil? Libra says that he is not human and that he is here to balance the scales and even the odds.

Libra says that he will grant each villain whatever their heart’s desire is. Libra says that he will now grant the Human Flame his heart’s desire to witness the death of the Martian Manhunter. Lex asks what is in this for Libra. Libra answers “An end to the age of super heroes. A full on no bullshit twilight of the gods.

A heavily sedated Martian Manhunter is then drug into the room. Libra then has Martian Manhunter engulfed in flames. Libra uses his scales of justice spear and stabs Martian Manhunter through the gut.

We cut to Dan Turpin meeting with the Tattooed Man. The Tattooed Man leads Tuprin to the Dark Side Club. Turpin meets with Boss Dark Side. Turpin says that he expected somebody younger. Dark Side responds that bodies tend to wear out hard in here. He mentions that he was in a fall, but that what they endure makes them stronger.

Boss Dark Side then admits to capturing the six missing kids and giving them to Granny. That Humanity’s best hope for the future is the young. The Life Force. Dark Side takes off his sun glasses to reveal red energy eyes. Dark Side says that there was a war in Heaven and that he won. That the future belongs to Dark Side.

Dark Side then calls for the children. Dark Side says that they are the new model human. That they are beyond salvation. Dark Side tells the children to show Turpin what they have learned about Anti-Life.

We hop over to the Hall of Justice where the JLA members are all filled in about Orion’s death. We then see the Alpha Lanterns locking down Earth and securing the crime scene. We cut to the Nexus where the Monitors report that New Earth is secure. That the bleed drains are intact. That the Multiversal Orrery has survived the repairs after the loss of moving part: Universe 51.

We then see the assembled Monitors judge Nix Uotan guilty of negligent endangering of the Orrery of Worlds. The penalty will be that Nix shall be stripped of his duties, his powers and his word of attention. That Nix shall live out his days as a humble mortal germ and die to feed the Orrery. Monitor Weeja Dell cries out “No!” Nix then yells that he will find a way back to Weeja. He promises that he will. Nix then is transported away.

We see Weeja Dell talking with Zillo Valla, another Monitor. Weeja states that she has never felt anything before now. Zillo says that Weeja should consider their diving engine. Their celestial foundation of interlocking universes. That all existence depends on its survival. That Weeja should save her love for the Orrery.

Weeja wonders why she cares so much for Nix. Zillo responds that the Monitors who were faceless once now all have names and stories. And there are heroes and villains. Secrets and lovers. That Ogama fears that the Monitors have become contaminated during contact with the obscure life forms that grow within the workings of the Orrery. That through them, time has entered their timeless world. Beginnings and endings.

We see another Monitor watching Zillo and Weeja. The Monitor says that attentions wander. Uotan, his only obstacle is gone. The Monitor says “We’re on…”

We slide back in past to see Anthro grilling some dinner and drawing Metron’s symbol into the dirt. Suddenly, Anthro appears in Kamandi’s future. Kamandi runs over to Anthro and says that Metron gave Anthro a weapon that can be used against the gods. Kamandi screams “We need it now!”

We cut to Nix Uotan waking up on New Earth in his apartment. Nix mentions that he is in such deep sleep. Nix then stares at his hands. The television is on and we see a news report stating that the super hero community is reacting to the horrific murder of J’onn J’onnz, Martian Manhunter. We see Green Arrow yelling that whoever did this to J'onn will suffer. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Final Crisis #1 was an excellent debut issue. Now, people may not like the death of Martian Manhunter to the point where it will color their opinion of this issue. And people may have wanted more “wow” scenes right out of the gate. But, the fact is that Morrison delivers a technically well crafted issue. This is some solid writing on the part of Morrison.

I know that some readers may be dissatisfied with the pacing and that Morrison did not come out and try and blow away the reader with the first issue. However, I never had that expectation and to do so is asking too much from the writer. Final Crisis #1 is a set-up issue. And in a seven issue big event story the first issue is a necessary evil. Set-up issues have to do the dirty work of laying a solid foundation for this story, begin to move the various players into place and tease the reader with several mysteries.

It is similar to how the first third of a novel is usually the least interesting part of the story as the writer has to introduce the reader to the world the story is taking place in, the characters involved and set the various plotlines in place. It isn’t glamorous or sexy, but it is critical for a properly written story.

Therefore, I found Final Crisis to be a well paced issue. Morrison fines a nice balance as this issue never drags nor does it ever feel rushed. And the most impressive part of the nice flow to this issue is that Morrison does not have to rely on action to move the story along. All it takes is impeccable plotting to keep the issue lively.

And that leads into the fact that Final Crisis #1 was a strongly plotted issue. Morrison delivers multiple plotlines right from the start. To no surprise, Morrison weaves a dense story that is thick with details. Morrison gives the reader plenty to chew on with Final Crisis #1. This is certainly an issue that you can read two or three times in order to fully enjoy all of the layers to this story.

And the best part of Final Crisis #1 is that it feels like a big event. This story reads like an epic tale. And that was a vital element that Morrison had to bring to this title. Whether I liked what Morrison was going to do or not was not as important as him at least getting me to believe that this was a huge epic event. And without a doubt Final Crisis #1 conveyed the impression to the reader that something much larger than our world is about to happen.

To no surprise, Morrison whips up some beautiful narration and dialogue in Final Crisis #1. The dialogue and the running monologues had a thoroughly pleasant flow. Each character spoke with a richly fleshed out voice. I enjoyed the dialogue that Morrison gave all the characters, but I found Dan Turpin’s dialogue and monologue to be particularly impressive.

I enjoyed that, for the most part, Morrison eschewed using the big guns from the DCU in Final Crisis #1. We only see Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in one single page. And while we do see Hal Jordan, it is only for a page or two. For the vast majority of Final Crisis #1 Morrison focuses on minor characters in the DCU. This was a brilliant move by Morrison. It conveyed the point to the reader that the DCU is so much more than just the big three. That the history and continuity of the DCU is vast and the major players only make up a very small percentage of it. This also gets across to the reader that the Final Crisis event is on a grand scale that can make any one character appear insignificant.

I liked that Morrison literally begins at the beginning with Final Crisis #1. It was a cool touch to kick off this event with an appearance by Anthro. The scene with Metron giving Anthro the gift of fire was pretty nifty. Morrison pulls off a brilliant transition between the scene with Anthro and the present day scene with Dan Turpin by using Mankind’s obsession with using great inventions and discoveries to kill ourselves to thematically tie in the past with the present and to hint at future events in Final Crisis.

I liked how Morrison used Dan Turpin in Final Crisis. Dan Turpin first appeared as Brooklyn in Detective Comics #64 in 1942 and as Dan Turpin in New Gods #5 in 1971. Morrison completely nails Turpin’s character. Turpin is by far the character that I enjoyed the most in this issue.

I dig how Morrison handles the Green Lantern Corps in this issue. Morrison utilizes the Green Lantern Corps as a true police force. The use of Turpin, a policeman himself, to comment that Orion’s death was something that he simply was not capable of handling and that this was a job for the “space cops” was a nice touch.

The scene with the Hal, John and the Guardians dealing with the “1011” was excellent. The Guardians swift reaction of locking down all of Earth and not allowing anyone to enter Earth’s atmosphere or leave Earth’s atmosphere, ordering the area to be dusted for radiation prints and for all suspects to be interrogated furthered the image of the police force aspect of the Green Lantern Corps.

I found it interesting that we see Black Racer in the sky when Turpin stumbles across Orion’s body. The Black Racer is tasked with the duty of collecting the New Gods at the time of their death and taking them to Hadis. Now, this means that Orion might not truly be totally dead just yet. We have yet to see Black Racer collect Orion’s soul. And with the Guardians completely sealing any ingress or egress from Earth, it is possible that Black Racer is now stuck on Earth.

I absolutely loved the scene with Mirror Master and Dr. Light. This was such a well done scene. I liked the League of Titans consisting of some of the no-name characters who were Titans during the course of 52. This was a wonderful use of some obscure characters and lets the reader know what they have been up to since the end of 52.

Once again, we see Libra continuing on his quest to collect all of the Fourth World weapons and technology as Libra sent Mirror Master and Dr. Light to retrieve Metron’s chair. I am interested to see just what Libra is going to try and pull off with all of this Fourth World technology that he is amassing.

The dialogue between Mirror Master and Dr. Light was hilarious. Morrison manages to crank up some nice chemistry between these two characters. The funny banter about Dr. Light’s date with Giganta and his desire for some pharmaceuticals to ensure that the date goes well was a nice way to keep Final Crisis #1 from being too dark and somber of a read.

Now, I have avoided this part of Final Crisis #1 for long enough. It is time to discuss the scene with Libra and his gathering of villains. First, let me state for the record that I have always been a big fan of Martian Manhunter. Now that I have gotten that on the table, I have to admit that I found the scene with Libra and the other villains to be a wonderfully crafted scene.

Let me take a moment to salute my fallen homeboy. I have an Oreo cookie here and I’m going to take one bite of it first. Mmmm, delicious. And now I’m going to crumble the rest of the Oreo on top of J’onn’s grave. I will miss you, man. All right, now that I have gotten that out of the way, I have to admit that I liked how Morrison handled J’onn’s death. I am normally very critical of writers when they kill characters and I am notoriously hard to please when it comes to a character’s death. However, Martian Manhunter’s death made sense to me.

I know that some people may claim this death scene was just more gratuitous violence. I didn’t find this death scene to be gratuitous at all. This was a fast death scene as Morrison did not dwell much on it at all. There was no single or double page splash shot. The death was not drawn out over several pages. Instead, Morrison simply has Libra kill J’onn to prove his point to Lex and the others and then moves on. It was a rather realistic death scene.

I know many people will be upset and call this “lazy writing” and that this was a cheap death simply used to make the villains seem “evil.” I disagree. This was not lazy writing. Nor was this death simply used as a cheap method to make the reader view Libra as “evil.” I found J’onn’s death to be a necessary part of this story.

Libra is dealing with a large collection of villains that he is trying to unite and get them to follow him. Now, the chump villains like Human Flame are easy to get in line. However, big name villains like Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage and Gorilla Grodd don’t follow anyone. And they certainly won’t follow Libra based on him simply making promises.

Actions speak louder than words and a true leader leads by example. There is no way that Libra could ever convince Luthor, Savage and Grodd to join him with the use of mere promises. Libra had to actually deliver something that grabbed their attention. Libra had to do something that Luthor, Savage and Grodd have been unable to do and that is to kill a Justice Leaguer.

Killing Martian Manhunter was such an impressive feat that it would naturally grab the attention of characters like Lex and Savage. And Martian Manhunter was a good character to select for this role for various reasons. Killing a big name character is risky since it will likely piss off a huge number of fans. So, a logical choice would be a solid mid-level character whose death would have an impact on readers but not piss off massive amounts of fans. Martian Manhunter fits that description. J’onn has been a member of every version of the JLA. To many readers, Martian Manhunter is the heart of the JLA.

J’onn was also a good character to select because honestly, for all practical purposes he has been “dead” since the end of Infinite Crisis. Martian Manhunter’s mini-series was less than impressive and his character has been handled poorly since the end of Infinite Crisis. Now, if you recall Morrison’s run on Animal Man, Morrison clearly believes in a Comic Book Limbo. And I also subscribe to this belief. There is no death in comic books. And there really is no reason to think that death exists in comic books. Characters are either active in the DCU or they sit in Comic Book Limbo waiting to be re-invented and brought back into the DCU.

Morrison views Comic Book Limbo as a place where characters who have lost their usefulness or purpose can go and wait for a certain amount of years until a writer comes along who has a novel idea to re-invigorate a certain character. Martian Manhunter needs to go to Comic Book Limbo and be off the playing field for several years. Then, hopefully, a writer will have a good idea how to utilize J'onn’s character and will bring him back better than ever.

I enjoyed the scene between Turpin and Dark Side and the Dark Side Club. Morrison reveals that Dark Side won the war and that he now has the secret to the Anti-Life. This scene definitely piqued my interest and I am excited to learn how Darkseid went from being killed at the end of Countdown to now having attained the secret of the Anti-Life and won the war of the heavens.

The scene with the Monitors at the Nexus was fantastic. This scene is a good example of how Morrison can take another writer’s plotline and make it better. The Nexus was a standard styled base of operations for the Monitors during Countdown. However, Morrison makes the Nexus a much more intriguing place and a large reason for that is the wicked cool Multiversal Orrery. I love it. And of course, since Morrison has introduced this ornate machine with the first issue, we all know that it is probably going to get destroyed by the time we reach the end of this story.

Morrison also takes Dini and Giffen’s concept of the Monitor’s developing unique personalities and does a much better job with it than was ever done on Countdown. Morrison plays with the concepts of the Monitors how having their own names and stories. That they now suddenly have secrets and lovers. That some are becoming heroes and others are becoming villains.

Watching Weeja obviously upset and feeling genuine feelings of love and loss while at the same time openly questioning why she even has these emotions all of a sudden reminded me a lot of Morrison’s run on Animal Man with how characters questioned if their thoughts and emotions were their own or someone else’s.

I dig that time has now seeped into the world of the Monitors. This appears to clue the reader into the fact that it is possible that the Monitors will experience their demise in this story. I also enjoyed the little teaser from Morrison with the Monitor commenting that now that Nix has been removed that his plans can proceed unimpeded. Clearly, Morrison has some huge changes in store for the Monitors. While I was completely uninterested in the Monitors over on Countdown, I find myself rather intrigued with what Morrison is doing with them on Final Crisis.

Morrison delivers a fantastic hook ending to Final Crisis #1. First, Morrison teases the reader with a cool scene where Anthro is suddenly transported to Kamandi’s future. We then see Kamandi yelling that Anthro has a weapon that can be used against the gods and that Kamandi needs it now.

We then see Nix appearing on New Earth to serve his sentence as a mere mortal. We then get the news report about J’onn’s death with a raging Green Arrow swearing vengeance. That is a fine way to hook the reader to wanting to come back for the next issue.

I was impressed with Morrison’s effort to weave all the various storylines that have taken place since the end of 52. Even if it was just for one panel like the quick scene showing the villain march protesting vigilante brutality, Morrison managed to give an all encompassing feel to Final Crisis. Morrison builds off of 52, Countdown, Salvation Run, and Death of the New Gods. This was a wise move in order to take all the various major storylines and bring them under the umbrella of Final Crisis. It gives Final Crisis context within the current events of the DCU and brings together seemingly disparate stories into one large event.

J.G. Jones treats the reader to some gorgeous artwork. Seriously, this is exactly the type of artwork that I expect to receive on a big event. Yu’s work on Secret Invasion pales in comparison to the beautiful artwork that Jones gives us in Final Crisis #1. Jones is able to breathe Morrison’s story to life and give it such a grand feel of an epic event.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue. To be sure that Morrison is not going to rush things so Final Crisis #1 is not a fast paced issue full of stunning plot twists. And, to be expected, since this is a DC Crisis event, it certainly helps to know your DCU continuity. Newer readers need to fire up Wikipedia and not be shy about doing a little research.

Overall: Final Crisis #1 was a strong set-up issue. Morrison delivers an impressively crafted issue that is well plotted and does its job of setting the stage for what should be one wild ride. I would definitely recommend giving Final Crisis #1 a try. This title has the true epic tale feel to it that is notably lacking on Secret Invasion.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Comic Books For May 29, 2008

DC COMICS

ACTION COMICS #865
ALL STAR SUPERMAN #11
BATMAN #677
FINAL CRISIS #1
GREEN LANTERN #31
LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #42
TEEN TITANS #59

MARVEL COMICS

DAREDEVIL #107
GIANT SIZE ASTONISHING X-MEN #1
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #15
MARVEL 1985 #1
MARVEL ADVENTURES IRON MAN #13
NEW AVENGERS #41
THOR #9
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #122
UNCANNY X-MEN #498
X-FORCE #4
X-MEN LEGACY #212

I have to admit that The Revolution is all kinds of geeked up tonight. I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve eagerly waiting for Santa to show up with a bundle of presents. Now, I always look forward to each Wednesday. I truly love comic books I am normally excited for the newest weekly shipment of comic books. However, tomorrow is different. Why? Final Crisis. I cannot wait. I hate to admit this but I will probably have a hard time falling asleep tonight because I am so amped up. I cannot wait to see what Morrison has in store for us.

All right, let’s check out the comic books for this week. We have a monster week this week with a total of 18 titles headed to the Bunker. This week’s shipment of comic books is still Marvel heavy. But, that doesn’t mean anything as DC is doing more with less as the titles that they are rolling out this week are some serious heavy hitters.

Which DC comic book am I most looking forward to reading? Look, I don’t want to waste our time. The selection of DC comic books for this week is loaded with excellent reads. You have my sentimental favorite in Legion of Super Heroes #42. You have the second installment of the Batman RIP story arc in Batman #677. And we also have Green Lantern #31 which should be a solid read. And then there is All Star Superman #11 which should continue Morrison’s excellent story on this title.

Normally, this would be a tough choice, but it isn’t this week. That is because Final Crisis #1 comes out this week and this issue absolutely dwarfs all others. Now, I had low expectations for Secret Invasion. That was due in part because the general premise to Secret Invasion did not seem all that original or intriguing. I also had my reservations for Secret Invasion because Bendis has failed to earn my faith due to his unimpressive work on his last big event in House of M and his inability to handle a title with a large roster of characters.

On the other hand, Morrison has earned my trust and faith. A large reason that Morrison has my trust with Final Crisis is due to his incredible run on Animal Man. I adored how Morrison used the Psycho Pirate to deliver his own little commentary on the original Crisis and all the worlds and characters that were wiped out of existence. Morrison’s Animal Man was mind-blowingly good and shows that Morrison gets the Multiverse. Combine Morrison’s Animal Man with his strong work on 52 and I am confident that Morrison is more than capable of delivering a complex and captivating read dealing with the Multiverse in Final Crisis.

Now, I’m not saying that it is a lock that Morrison is going to deliver an epic tale with Final Crisis. It is certainly possible that Final Crisis will be a huge disappointment. It is just that I feel safer betting that Morrison delivers a hit big event than Bendis delivers a hit big event.

Which DC comic book am I least looking forward to reading? That would be Action Comics #865. This issue screams filler issue to me. Maybe I will be wrong, but I don’t think so.

Which Marvel comic book am I most looking forward to reading? The House of Ideas is rolling out several nice titles this week. New Avengers #41 should be a good read. Bendis has yet to fail to deliver a quality read with any of his Secret Invasion tie-in issues on New Avengers and Mighty Avengers. I’m curious to see how Bendis ties the Skrull invasion into the events of the very first New Avengers story.

I am confident that Brubaker will deliver another nice read in Daredevil #107. Now, I will concede that Daredevil has tailed off a bit as of late. For a while there I would have said that Brubaker’s Daredevil was as impressive as his Captain America story. However, Brubaker seems to have lost a bit of his focus ever since he resolved the monster storyline involving Vanessa Fisk. Still, Brubaker’s Daredevil remains a quality read that is better than your typical comic book.

Marvel 1985 #1 piques my interest. I am curious to see what Millar has in store for us with this title. Now, I am definitely keeping my expectations low for this story. But, seeing 1980’s era Marvel heroes in action should be fun.

However, the title that I am most looking forward to reading is Thor #9. I have really enjoyed JMS “rebirth” of Thor into the 616 Universe. Having said that, now that JMS has brought back Asgard and all the Asgardians, it is time for him to step on the accelerator and get this story moving. I hope that JMS has something interesting in store for us.

Which Marvel comic book am I least looking forward to reading? A four month wait between Astonishing X-Men #24 and Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1 has pretty much killed my interest in this story. I’m sure that Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1 will be a pretty looking issue with a technically well constructed story. But, the fact is that I’ve moved on and turned my attention to other comic books due to Astonishing X-Men’s pathetic shipping schedule.

Still, the Marvel comic book that I am least looking forward to reading would be X-Force #4. This title has proven itself to be nothing more than a rather generic action themed comic book that worships at the altar of the grim killer hero. Unless X-Force #4 manages to blow me away, it appears that this title is going to fall victim to the dreaded axe.

As always, I’ll try my best to start posting reviews as soon as possible. I hope everyone enjoys their new comic books for this week.

Weekly Awards For The Comic Books From May 21, 2008

Let’s go ahead and dish out The Revolution’s weekly awards.

The nominees for the Che for the best read of the week:

Captain America #38
Fantastic Four #557
Justice Society of America #15
Mighty Avengers #14
Superman/Batman #48
X-Factor #31

The Winner: Justice Society of America #15

This week was just loaded with some excellent reads. As always, Brubaker served up another quality read with Captain America #38. I already praised this book enough in my review. Suffice it to say that when it comes to consistency it is tough to beat what Brubaker has delivered in the past thirty-eight issues on Captain America.

Fantastic Four #557 was another good read. Now, I don’t find Millar and Hitch’s run on Fantastic Four to rival what they did over on the Ultimates. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still a class effort. Fantastic Four may not be anything mind-blowing or revolutionary, but it is certainly an entertaining and well crafted read.

Bendis continues to impress with his Secret Invasion back-story issues with Mighty Avengers #14. To be sure, you have to like the Sentry to really get hooked into this issue. Luckily, the Sentry’s has not gotten stale with me. Yet. Bendis is doing what I have rarely seen and that is delivering excellent tie-in issues that far exceed the actual big-event itself.

Superman/Batman #48 was wonderful read. I really didn’t expect much from this issue and was pleasantly surprised. Michael Green and Mike Johnson display an incredible feel for Superman and Batman in this issue. The chemistry between the two characters was fantastic. This issue is exactly the type of interaction between the Big Red S and the Bat that I like to read. And the reader got treated to a great hook ending with the revelation that LexCorp is manufacturing green Kryptonite based weapons for the U.S. military.

It should come as no surprise that The Revolution enjoyed X-Factor #31. I have been praising David’s run on this title from the very beginning. David certainly has placed our rag-tag band of mutants in a tough situation and it was nice to see our heroes battling through what seemed like an impossible situation. All the members of X-Factor displayed true grit and determination as they refused to give up despite the long odds of stopping Arcade’s bombs placed around Mutant Town. If you enjoy great character work and fine dialogue then X-Factor is a book tailor made for you.

However, despite all the strong reads this week I went ahead and gave The Che to Justice Society of America #15. Johns cranked out another impressive issue. I have already lavished my love upon this title in my review. Suffice it to say that Justice Society of America #15 is one of DC’s more compelling reads. Johns finally has this story arc moving with purpose and is delivering a balanced story that should appeal to a wide range of comic book readers.

And now the nominees for the Sequential Methadone Award for the worst read of the week:

Amazing Spider-Man #560
Batman and the Outsiders #7
Wolverine: Origins #25

The Winner: Wolverine: Origins #25

The Revolution was less than impressed with Amazing Spider-Man #560. I like Dan Slott; I just don’t think that Marvel is giving him much to work with on this title. I find the story to be a bit juvenile and the dialogue simply average. I strongly dislike the constant rotating of the writers on this title. I firmly believe that consistency is key to a title’s success. And it is hard to have consistency when there is constant turnover at the writer position.

Batman and the Outsiders #7 was another pedestrian read. I am getting the impression that Dixon is just collecting a paycheck and phoning it in on this title. And that is too bad because Dixon is able to write a solid comic book. There is nothing special or particularly interesting that would make me recommend that you run out and give this title a try.

Of course, in the end I had to give the Sequential Methadone Award to Wolverine: Origins #25. I continues to be summarily unimpressed with Way’s work on this title. And if there is one character that I hope and pray turns out to be a Skrull it would certainly be Wolverine. I would love for everything from Wolverine: Origins to be completely retconned away.

So congrats to Justice Society of America #15 for winning the Che for the week and congrats to Wolverine: Origins #25 for winning the Sequential Methadone Award for the week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four #557

Millar and Hitch are doing a fine job on the Fantastic Four. Last issue gave us CAP on a massive rampage tearing his way through an impressive group of heroes. It appears that we are going to get to see Reed riding to the rescue as he comes up with some plan to take down the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut CAP. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Fantastic Four #557.

Creative Team
Writer
: Mark Millar
Pencils: Bryan Hitch
Inks: Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary

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: We begin with Sue revealing to the assembled heroes in Alaska that Alyssa programmed a fail-safe in CAP so that she and her husband would not be harmed by it. However, the rest of the world is out of luck. Sue tells Alyssa to teleport them out of here. That they are wasting valuable time.

We shift to Portal Prime where they are tracking CAP. They realize that CAP is getting faster. That he is taking down nuclear facilities all across the globe. We then cut to Central Park where Reed is assembling his huge bad-assed Shogun Warrior. (Actually, it is his Anti-Galactus Suit and I don’t think that its fist can be launched.)

Dr. Castle informs Reed that Alyssa made CAP an unbeatable opponent. Reed says that he is prepared to take the risk. Reed’s assistants run through the last minute prep of the Anti-Galactus suit. One of the techs ask Reed what was the idea behind the helmets Galactus-style design. Reed responds because it looks cool.

Reed then hops inside of the Shogun Warrior and is ready to rumble. Dr. Castle then tells Reed that this is suicide. That CAP cannot be beaten. Reed responds that such talk is “Not in my vocabulary, Doctor Castle.” We then see CAP teleport in front of Reed. Right after that, our assembled heroes from the Avengers, Secret Avengers and X-Men appear on the scene as well.

Reed orders for the heroes to stand down and leave CAP to him. Reed then tells CAP that he knows there is a command in CAP that won’t let him lay a finger on Reed. That Alyssa put Reed on the special exemption list with herself and her husband. CAP finishes scanning Reed and states that his command is to not hurt Doctor Reed Richards.

Reed smiles and comments that fortunately he is under no such restraints. Reed then smashes CAP to pieces. All the assembled heroes are duly impressed with Reed’s Shogun Warrior. Reed powers down the Anti-Galactus suit and exits the robot. Everyone cheers Reed. Sue asks Reed how he knew there was even a list of people that CAP would not be allowed to hurt. Reed looks at an embarrassed Alyssa and replies that it was just an educated guess.

We slide over to the White House where the President is informed that the Russians and the Chinese are quite willing to help them keep a lid on the entire situation involving CAP. That Nu-World is their last hope and they can’t let a little thing like the CAP incident hold them back.

We cut back to Reed and Alyssa overseeing the clean-up of CAP. Alyssa says that the job for Reed to help them with Nu-World is still open to him. Reed declines stating that he doesn’t approve of how the entire incident has been covered up. And that he would rather stick around and do what he can to save his own planet first.

Alyssa then tells Reed that they married the wrong people. That her husband Ted has the intellect, but none of the passion. And that Sue is sweet and pretty but can hardly be described as an engaging conversation. Same with Ben and Johnny. Alyssa says that she is the only one Reed can talk to without the “child-lock” on. Alyssa says that Reed got married on the rebound.

Alyssa asks Reed why he would waste his one life with someone whose eyes glaze over when he talks about his passions. Reed answers because he loves her and is that something that Alyssa cannot work out on a calculator. Reed then says he is sorry and gives Alyssa a kiss on the cheek. Alyssa says that wasn’t much of a kiss. Reed answers that it was goodbye.

We cut to Reed and Sue at a nice restaurant for their anniversary. Sue asks Reed if he let Alyssa down gently. Sue says that she knew that Alyssa was still in love with Reed and that Sue knew what Alyssa was up to. Reed answers that Sue has nothing to worry about Alyssa.

Reed then pulls out a ring and places it on Sue’s finger. Reed says that he fashioned it himself. That it is a micro-galaxy. Seventy-four inhabited worlds and over forty trillion couples in total. All loving each other like Reed loves Sue.

Sue then gives Reed his present: the new Bob Dylan CD. We then learn that Reed and Sue have travelled thirteen years into the past to eat at this specific restaurant because it has a view of the two of them when they first met. Reed tells Sue to look out the window.

We see a young Sue and Reed literally bumping into each other for the first time. We then cut back into the restaurant with Reed telling Sue that he loves her more than anything in the world.

We shift to Johnny Storm’s pad. Johnny walks into his bedroom as sees a naked Psionics in his bed covered with money and drinking a bottle of champagne. (Sweet!) Psionics tells Johnny that she has been a naughty girl and robbed another bank. Psionics ask if that means Johnny will have to handcuff her. Psionics says that she hopes so. (Nice! It gets even better. Johnny is one lucky dog.) Johnny wonders out loud how can something so wrong feel so right. (Isn’t that always the case?)

We slip back to the Baxter Building where the Thing is informing a nice elderly woman who was present for the nanny position that Sue forgot about their meeting. Suddenly, we hear someone banging on the door. The door busts open and in walks a battle damaged Dr. Doom. Doom says “Find Reed Richards! NOW!” End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Fantastic Four #557 was a great read. Miller delivers a well paced issue. We don’t get much action but what we do get was well timed. Miller manages to let Reed’s character carry this issue. The fun in this issue is watching how Reed rides to the rescue in such a calm and confident manner.

Fantastic Four #557 was a nicely plotted read. This issue ties up Millar’s initial story arc in a pleasant fashion. This four issue story arc was a fairly tight story that, while not a fast story, never felt slow and unfocused.

Millar serves up plenty of well crafted dialogue. The two characters who really shined in this issue were Reed and Sue. Millar demonstrates a good feel for this couple and treats the reader to well developed versions of both characters.

Millar delivers a Sue that is strong and smart woman who is also a wonderful wife. Sue’s supreme confidence and unwavering faith in her husband, Reed, was touching and quite refreshing in a world of comic books where everyone is cynical and jaded and a strong marriage is sneered at as a pathetically outdated custom from the past.

Miller delivers a kick-ass Reed Richards while still keeping Reed completely in character. Reed doesn’t need to be like Wolverine or the Punisher in order to be kick-ass. There are all different types of cool and Millar most definitely makes Reed pretty cool in this issue. Of course, it always helps to look bad-assed when you are piloting a sweet looking Shogun Warrior. The Anti-Galactus suit was a rather wicked weapon that Reed pulled out of his toy box.

I liked how completely in control Reed is during this issue. Reed isn’t an egotistical jerk, but don’t mistake that for Reed not having an ego at all. Reed most definitely does and his supreme confidence in his abilities allowed him to be unnaturally calm in the face of a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut in CAP. Reed’s response that impossible is not in his vocabulary sums up Reed perfectly.

Millar does a great job getting Reed over with a newer reader who might now be as familiar with Reed’s character. At first blush, it seems easy for a reader to dismiss Reed as a nerd with a lame power. The fact is that Reed’s true weapon is his mind. And when written properly, Reed can be quite an engaging and intriguing character.

I will admit that the defeat of CAP was a bit anti-climactic, but it served the purpose of forwarding the dramatic plotline involving Alyssa, Reed and Sue. And in the end the love triangle between those three characters was always the main plotline in this story arc. And honestly, a big slug-em out scene is also pretty predictable and unoriginal. All in all, I was fine with how Millar had Reed dispatch of CAP.

I loved how Reed handled the love triangle between Alyssa, Reed and Sue. I am also thrilled that whatever marital problems that existed between Reed and Sue have finally been put to rest. I liked how Reed handled Alyssa at the end of this issue. Reed got his point across to Alyssa in no uncertain terms, but managed to do it in a classy way.

I liked the touching scene with Reed and Sue travelling to the past to watch the two of them meet for the first time. It was great to see Reed and Sue back together and better than ever. Millar does a nice job creating some quality chemistry between this married couple. I also thought Reed’s gift was pretty damn cool. Now, since the ring contains a micro-galaxy, could Millar be planting the seeds for a Fantastic Four/Micronauts cross-over? I guess the Micronauts (or Microns or whatever they are calling them nowadays) could be adventuring around in the micro-galaxy in Sue’s ring. Eh, odds are pretty safe that Millar is not planning a return of the Micronauts.

I am glad that Nu-World is going to stick around for the foreseeable future. Nu-World is a cool concept that can easily provide for plenty of future stories. I hope that Millar works Nu-World back into the story at some time in the future.

I loved the scene with Johnny and Psionics. These two characters are a perfect couple. And they are also a train wreck waiting to happen. I have to admit that I totally can’t blame Johnny for doing this (and Psionics). I mean, who hasn’t wanted to shag a super-villainess as some point or another? I certainly cannot wait to see how this entire situation explodes in Johnny’s face.

Millar cranks out a fantastic hook ending. Just awesome. I mean, were are talking Dr. Doom, people. What more can you ask for? This ending is also a great way to seamlessly transition from one story arc to the next without having a traditional filler or bridge issue.

Bryan Hitch dishes out plenty of good looking artwork. Hitch’s design of the Anti-Galactus suit was top-notch.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Fantastic Four #557 provided the reader with a satisfying ending to Millar’s debut story arc. Fantastic Four is a well balanced title that provides the reader with equal parts drama, action and character development. Even if you are like me and have never been much of a fan of the Fantastic Four before, I think that what Millar is pulling off on this title might appeal to you. Millar is doing a nice job trying to make the stories new reader friendly. I would certainly recommend giving the Fantastic Four a try.