Archive for Blackest Night

The Hero Sandwich List of Favorite Comics for 2010

I don’t think I’ve ever tried to do a year-end retrospective list — it’s always too difficult for me to pick out a list of things I enjoyed the most out of 12 whole months. But what the heck, I’m gonna try it today.

This list is strictly listed in alphabetical order. I can’t claim it’s a list of the best comics — I haven’t read all the comics, after all — but it’s the list of the 15 comics that I enjoyed the most.

American Vampire

Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Stephen King came together to re-invent the vampire for the rough-and-tumble American West. Outstanding characters, close attention to setting, and rip-snorting horror make this a must-read for anyone who loves non-sparkly bloodsuckers.


The adventures of Stephanie Brown as the newest Batgirl are full of great humor, great action, great dialogue, and great characterizations. This is one of the best superhero comics around.

Batman and Robin

Grant Morrison’s triumphant run of Batman comics had its most epic stretch in these stories of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, as well as Alfred, Dr. Hurt, and the Joker. The scale of Morrison’s storytelling here was breathtaking.

Blackest Night

Possibly the most successful crossover storyarc in years, this grabbed readers’ imaginations and didn’t let go for months. Even better than its commercial successes were the overall excellence of the plotline. At its height, there was nothing as good as this story about zombies, power rings, and emotions.


I’m not a fan of the new series, but Garth Ennis’ original Crossed miniseries was the most harrowing, brutal, relentless, depressing, and terrifying horror comic to hit the stands in a long, long time.


This was, without a single doubt, the best comic series of the entire year. Nothing else came close. Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon deserve to win so many awards for this one. If you missed this series in the original run, you should definitely keep your eyes open in the next few months for the trade paperback.

Detective Comics starring Batwoman

Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III didn’t create the character, but they crafted her best stories. While Rucka brilliantly fleshed out her backstory, personality, and supporting cast, Williams took the stories and created some of the year’s most beautiful artwork and design.

Hellboy in Mexico

This story of, well, Hellboy in Mexico was my favorite, but I also loved all of the other collaborations between Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and fantasy artist Richard Corben. These two meshed together creatively in ways that very few creators are able to do, and all of us readers were the beneficiaries.

Joe the Barbarian

Grant Morrison’s fantasy story is both epic and mundane in scale, which is really quite a trick — Joe is in diabetic shock, and he’s hallucinating that his home and toys have turned into a fantasy kingdom. But what if he’s not really hallucinating?

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit

The second chapter of Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Donald Westlake’s crime fiction is a beautiful tribute to Cooke’s retro-cool art sensibilities and the pure fun of good pulp crime novels.

Power Girl

Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner created the best version of Power Girl ever for a year’s worth of funny, smart, sexy, exciting superhero stories. These creators loved this character, and you can tell that in every story they published about her. I still hope they’ll be able to come back to this title eventually.

Secret Six

Far and away DC’s best team book, Gail Simone has hooked us a bunch of people who are extremely likeable and also completely crazy and prone to trying to kill each other from moment to moment. This shouldn’t work as well as it does, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s colossal fun to read every single month.

Strange Science Fantasy

Scott Morse’s retro-pulp series packed a heck of a lot of audacious fun into six short issues. This was a treat visually, emotionally, intellectually — even on a tactile level, what with the heavy, rough paper it was printed on.

Thor and the Warriors Four

The Power Pack go to Asgard. I didn’t really expect much of it, to be honest, but readers were treated to godlike quantities of humor, excitement, whimsey, and awesomeness, thanks to writer Alex Zalben and artists Gurihiru, and to Colleen Coover’s excellent backup stories.

Tiny Titans

Probably the best all-ages comic out there right now. These comics are smart and funny and cute and just plain fun to read.

Aaaaand that’s what I got. There were plenty of other comics that just barely missed the cut, but these were nevertheless the ones that gave me the most joy when I was reading them.

So farewell, 2010. And hello, rapidly onrushing 2011. Hope you’re a better year for all of us, and I hope we can all look forward to plenty more great comics to come.

Now y’all be safe and have a good time tonight, but call a cab if you need it — I want to make sure all of y’all are here to read me in 2011.

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The End of the Blackest Night

Well, an extra two days away from the blog didn’t exactly recharge my batteries, but it gave me two days away from the blog, and I guess that’s saying something.

Part of the problem may be that last week’s comics, with only one or two exceptions, were perfectly competent, but just not that enjoyable. But I guess we gotta start reviewing somewhere, so let’s start with one of the few that I thought was really fun.

Blackest Night #8

And hey, if you haven’t read this one yet, I’m gonna spoil the heck out of it. You have been warned.

Well, Sinestro has merged with the Entity, the incarnation of all life in the universe, making him the extremely powerful White Lantern. He doesn’t have too much trouble killing Nekron — or so it seems. How do you kill an undead god? You don’t, ’cause he can recreate himself with any of the billions of Black Lantern zombies in the universe. And it doesn’t take long for Nekron to separate Sinestro from the Entity. The Black Lanterns make a recovery until all of the Lantern Corps and Earth’s superheroes join the defense of the planet. Deadman briefly possesses Guy Gardner to suggest that the Lanterns should focus on Black Hand instead. Hal Jordan realizes that, though Nekron claims to have allowed all of the resurrected heroes to return to life, they all chose to embrace life on their own. He joins with the Entity and inducts all of the resurrected heroes, including Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Kid Flash, Green Arrow, Superboy, Donna Troy, Ice, and Animal Man, into a new White Lantern Corps, which lasts just long enough to bring Black Hand back to life.

Black Hand ends up puking up a bunch of white rings, the way he used to puke up black rings. He brings the Anti-Monitor back to life, which breaks the Black Lantern power battery. Nekron banishes him back to his own universe (which also frees up the Anti-Monitor for use in future crossovers), but he is then destroyed by the white rings. A bunch of white rings then start flying all over the place, resurrecting the Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Jade, Hawk, Captain Boomerang, Maxwell Lord, Professor Zoom, Osiris, and, most surprisingly, Deadman. Mera’s heart stops beating after her love for Aquaman frees her from the Red Lantern ring, but she’s saved by Star Sapphire and Saint Walker. Maxwell Lord makes his escape, and Hawkgirl is revealed to no longer be Kendra Saunders, but the classic Hawkgirl, Shiera Hall.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is what every single giant comics crossover of the last few years has wanted to be. It has all the epic stuff that a big cosmic crossover needs, with some good human level drama, too.

The few things I’m less-than-happy with are all related to the aftermath. Why bring Deadman back to life? Isn’t the entire point of Deadman that he’s, um, dead? I assume they’ll kill him sooner rather than later to get the status quo back, so why even bother resurrecting him? And my irritation about bringing Shiera Hall as Hawkgirl is mainly that I thought Kendra Saunders was a really cool character. And there’s going to need to be some explanation why these specific characters got brought back to life, and not, for instance, Ralph and Sue Dibny, Solovar, Trickster, or any of the dozens of other dead DC characters.

Astro City: The Dark Age – Book Four #3

A new player is on the scene, born partly from a rip in reality and partly from the current mood of darkness and violence in Astro City. A hooded figure riding a flaming horse skeleton, he calls himself the Pale Horseman, and he specializes in killing criminals — metahuman assassins, safecrackers… and jaywalkers and kids stealing shopping carts. Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Charles and Royal Williams again miss the chance to kill Aubrey Jason, the supercrook who murdered their parents decades ago. While Jason is having trouble holding himself together after being converted into an energy form, he still manages to escape. The Williams brothers give chase, and Mirage tries to convince the Silver Agent not to keep traveling into the past, to avoid his own execution — and of course, the Agent refuses, because it’s still worth it to him to go out and save lives, even knowing what’s to come.

Back in Astro City, the Pale Horseman’s continued assaults on “transgressors,” combined with uncommonly bleak weather, has everyone in the city alternately terrified that they’ll be next on the Horseman’s list and eagerly anticipating seeing someone else get slaughtered by him. A former hero named Street Angel who’d once been mind-controlled by another vigilante into killing criminals tries to live a clean life but is targeted by the Horseman. Royal Williams runs into another ex-hero who the brothers were acquainted with when they were kids — and then Charles tracks down Aubrey Jason again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is still a great contemplation of the Dark Age of comics history — it’s probably one of the best of its type out there. The Pale Horseman is certainly one of the most vivid and terrifying symbols of the Dark Ages that we’ve seen, and he makes a great antagonist, too. On top of that, the Silver Agent’s scene with Mirage is really very well done, and an excellent re-statement of the Agent’s Silver Age morals. If I’ve got a complaint about this issue, it’s that it’s going to be really difficult for new readers to follow. There’s a short recap of the action at the beginning, but there’s been so much happening in this series, it’s just not enough to explain everything that’s going on.

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White Knight to the Rescue

Green Lantern #52

It’s the next-to-the-last chapter of the “Blackest Night” event. Sinestro, almost entirely to my surprise, is now the White Lantern, the embodiment of all life in the universe. This leads all the Black Lantern zombies to fly top-speed at Earth, hoping to kill him, pursued by all of the other Lantern Corps. Looks like they didn’t need to bother, though, ’cause while Sinestro is exulting in all his power, Nekron goes and cuts him in half — length-wise — with his scythe. Doesn’t seem to have killed him, though. And a group of Lanterns manage to blow up the zombie planet of Xanshi, drastically reducing Nekron’s power and demolishing most of the zombies. Can they all shield Earth from the wreckage? And can a reborn Sinestro still lead the forces of life to victory?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not the best of these issues, though, but it still does a good job of getting the story points across. After all, the big moments will come with the very end of the “Blackest Night” saga. Doug Mahnke’s artwork is just entirely and unbelievably awesome — the big double-sized splash page of the giant Lantern-powered framework protecting Coast City from meteor fragments is fantastically beautiful. Definitely looking forward to seeing how this is all going to shake out.

Power Girl #10

Satanna has stuck a device on Power Girl that is about to use a gravity field to compress her into a small, dead ball. Luckily, Terra has shown up, knocks Satanna around a bit, and uses a particularly nasty threat to get her to release PeeGee. While Satanna makes her escape, Power Girl and Terra return to Kara’s apartment, where they meet up with Fisher, the kid who’s blackmailing Power Girl with photos of her real identity. He has a bunch of serious demands — he wants her to go with him to pick up his comics this week, he wants her to take care of some bullies, and he wants her to help him get a date with a girl from school. Okay, that coulda been a lot worse. Power Girl and Terra head off to Kara’s company for a few hours, then go off to see Fisher’s friends at the comic shop. After that, there’s another attack from some of Satanna’s monsters, and Terra starts acting quite a bit more bloodthirsty than normal. What’s going on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Holy cow, I just love this comic to pieces, and there are only a couple of issues left before Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner leave it. We get all the great stuff we’ve come to expect from this book — lots of funny stuff, outstanding artwork, great action, awesome dialogue, the best facial expressions and body language and background details in the comic world. If you’re not reading this, I’m gonna chase you down and beat you with an aardvark, I swear.

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There's No Justice. There's Just Zombies.

Blackest Night: JSA #3

The bad news for everyone is that the Earth-2 Superman’s zombie is up and running again. The good news is… well, there’s not a lot of good news. Mr. Terrific has a plan to beat the Black Lantern, but it’ll require most of the Justice Society to charge into a hopeless battle against an undead demigod. Is everyone doomed or what?

Verdict: Ehh, thumbs down. I don’t mind a big slugfest sometimes, but this one just wasn’t entertaining enough to hold my interest.

Justice Society of America #36

We’ve got a tale told in flashback from 20 years in the future — Mr. Terrific is in prison and due to be executed soon, so the new Nazi masters of the world want him to record some of his history for their records. He remembers Liberty Belle getting taken down by a Nazi speedster, Green Lantern getting killed by a bomb in a wooden crate (the Golden Age Green Lantern has a vulnerability to anything made of wood, which is the type of thing that turns a bunch of high-velocity splinters into lethal shrapnel), and the rest of the team has to deal with a large team of evil Nazi supervillains.

Verdict: Thumbs up, at least for now. It’s been a while since the JSA had a good time-travel story to deal with, and frankly, it’s always fun to see superheroes stomp Nazis into puddles. Something about the story, however, is bugging me. I can’t really say for sure what the problem is, but it’s making me a bit nervous about how the rest of the story is going to play out.

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All You Zombies

Green Arrow #30

Okay, I got this for the “Blackest Night” crossover and for that cool inversion of the famous “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” cover from the ’70s. Green Arrow has been taken over by a Black Lantern ring because he once died and was brought back to life. While his zombie-side tries and fails to kill Hal Jordan, Black Canary, Connor Hawke, and Mia Dearden, the real Oliver Queen ends up watching it all from the inside, mostly helplessly.

Verdict: Thumbs down. At least Ollie wasn’t as uselessly dull as Wonder Woman when she got take over by the black ring in the “Blackest Night: Wonder Woman” miniseries, but it’s still not a very interesting story. I dig the artwork by the awesomely-named Diogenes Neves, though…

Batman and Robin #9

And speaking of zombies, this issue had several resurrected dead people, and it isn’t even part of the “Blackest Night” stuff at all.

We start out with Batwoman, who is, um, dead. She was injured terribly in the cave-in from last issue, but ultimately, it was a suicide, assisted by Dick Grayson. The plan: Batman, the Knight, and the Squire will dig out the buried Lazarus Pit again, and then dunk Batwoman back in it. Meanwhile, the resurrected clone of Bruce Wayne has traveled to Gotham City, where he’s trying to kill Alfred Pennyworth and Damian Wayne, still recovering from spinal replacement surgery. The Batman clone is starting to rot from within pretty quickly, but he’s still got plenty of time to commit low-IQ mayhem. Back in England, Batwoman is successfully revived, but will she and Batman be able to make it back to America in time to save Damian from being thrown off the top of Wayne Tower?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely claustrophobic action — can Damian even survive fighting a zombie clone Batman when he’s wearing a neck brace? Great personality work, too. Batwoman’s father has his first meeting with Batman and looks entirely delighted, and it’s great fun read dialogue between the Knight and the Squire. And there are a couple hilarious keeping-the-secret-identity-secret moments — Damian’s mock-innocent “Who ARE all these terrible people?” and the not-heterosexual Batwoman just flat-out flirting with Dick Grayson, partly for the sake of her secret ID, and partly because Dick is, frankly, such an over-confident dork.

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All the Colors of the Rainbow

Blackest Night #7

Nekron is putting his final gambits into place, and the various representatives of the Lantern Corps are not working together well. Specifically, Lex Luthor, weilding an Orange Lantern ring, has decided that his greed entitles him to all the other power rings. He manages to take Scarecrow’s yellow ring and tries to take Mera’s red one, but before he can do that, the full populations of all seven Lantern Corps finally arrive at Earth. But Nekron reveals his ace-in-the-hole when he kills one of the Guardians. That enables him to summon from inside the Earth a glowing white entity called simply “The Entity” — the embodiment of all life in the universe. And if Nekron call kill the Entity, guess what happens to everyone else?

Verdict: Thumbs up. More chaos, more hitting. Scarecrow and Luthor get some brief moments to shine, but at this point, it’s nearly all boiled down to just the Green Lanterns and the other Emotional Colors of the Universe. That’s not a bad thing, because the story is still rocking, and it’s still managing to get a few good shock moments out there, including a completely unexpected cliffhanger.

The Incredible Hercules #141

I really hate to say it, but it appears this is the final issue of this wonderful series. As it starts, Typhon has succeeded in almost all of his objectives. He’s killed Hera, he kills Zeus, and he’s about to use the power of Continuum to strip the universe clean of all life. Athena manages to return from the dead and re-curses Delphyne Gorgon with her snake-headed appearance. Hercules goes off to confront Typhon after telling Amadeus Cho to quit worrying about him all the time. There’s a terrific battle, and Herc almost has the ancient Titan on the ropes, but Typon wears a magic chestplate that drives all attacks on it back on the attacker — and that’s enough to almost take Hercules out of the fight. Does Hercules have a chance of defeating Typhon? Can he stop Continuum from destroying the universe? Or is there one more betrayal on the way?

Verdict: Thumbs up. And thumbs down, too. On one hand, it’s a great story, and a better ending than I was expecting from this storyarc. But on the other, I’m so tired of seeing great comic series like this get cancelled. This one has had a great run, and has profited from a lot of wildly unexpected success — but it should’ve lasted a heck of a lot longer.

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Flash Lightning

Blackest Night: The Flash #3

We got a lot of stuff happening in this one. Barry Allen has been chosen as a temporary member of the Blue Lantern Corps, and he’s busy fighting off the Black Lanterns, particularly Eobard Thawne, better known as Professor Zoom. But Zoom is a bit of a special case — he’s currently dead, but at some point in the future, he’ll be brought back to life. In fact, the revived Zoom was recently imprisoned in Iron Heights Prison by the Flash — so there are two Professor Zooms right now — one alive and in prison, and one dead and a zombie. Meanwhile, Wally West is trying to save Bart Allen — Kid Flash was forcibly inducted into the Black Lanterns by Nekron, and the longer he wears the black ring, the closer he gets to dying for real. Can the Flash save Kid Flash, or is it already too late?

Meanwhile, Captain Cold and the Rogues have invaded Iron Heights on the trail of the Black Lantern Rogues. Unfortunately, it’s a bit hard for a bunch of supervillains to kill off the unkillable zombies — until all the zombies get entranced by something inside Professor Zoom’s cell. And while they’re all gawking at Zoom and the glowing symbol for DC’s upcoming “Brightest Day” series that’s appeared over him, Captain Cold manages to flash-freeze everything in the prison. But there’s still one loose end — Owen Mercer, the son of the original Captain Boomerang, had captured his father’s zombie and was sacrificing low-rent supervillains to him in the belief that he’d be able to come back to life if he ate enough people. How are the Rogues going to deal with something like that?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I gotta admit, I kinda prefer Barry wearing his blue costume — it makes it a lot easier to tell the difference between him and Wally, whose outfits are almost identical. Not overjoyed with the resolution of the Captain Boomerang situation, but I was intrigued by the little clue about “Brightest Day”…

Joe the Barbarian #2

Joe is a kid with Type-1 diabetes who is in big trouble — he’s going into diabetic shock and hallucinating. He has to get to the kitchen on the other end of his very large house, and his journey isn’t made a bit easier by his hallucinations — or are they hallucinations at all? We start out with Joe meeting up with his action figures, who see him as a prophesied savior. Jean-Luc Picard gives him his phaser. Batman and Snake Eyes salute him. Joe makes his way across the bizarrely transformed landscape of his attic bedroom, strewn with giant Legos and joysticks, with evil soldiers killing Care Bears and Buzz Lightyears. He saves his pet rat, now turned into a mighty rat-warrior named Chakk. He gets orders from a bolt of lightning that resolves itself into the godlike Lord Arc. But can the blessings of Lord Arc and the assistance of Chakk help Joe when Sir Ulrik the Unspeakable attacks with his Deathcoats and King Draka’s buccaneers?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Grant Morrison’s story is beautifully head-trippy — I really don’t care if it’s all real or not, ’cause the hallucinations are just that cool. And Sean Murphy’s artwork is just glorious, switching from Joe’s mundane house to the apocalyptic wasteland of his fantasy world. This one is vast fun — check it out.

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Dark vs. Light

Green Lantern #51

Hal Jordan has allowed himself to be possessed by Parallax again, to give everyone a chance to take out the Black Lantern version of the Spectre. Parallax dives down into the Spectre’s giant body to track down the real Spectre hidden within and imprisoned by the real Black Lantern ring. He severs the ring’s connection to the Spectre, freeing the Spirit of God’s Vengeance, but Parallax isn’t ready to give up Hal’s body yet, and he wants to try to kill the Spectre once and for all. Atrocitus briefly inducts the Spectre into the Red Lantern Corps before the Spectre and Carol Ferris break Hal free of Parallax. So in a straight up battle between the Spirit of God’s Vengeance and Nekron, the undead god behind the entire Blackest Night, the contest has to go to the dude in the green cape who works for God, right? Right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Plenty of fun stuff here, great battles, all the stuff we’ve been accustomed to in the main “Blackest Night” books — and best of all is Doug Mahnke’s incredible, beautiful, disgusting artwork. From Parallax’s tour around the zombie Spectre’s rotting innards to Lex Luthor and Larfleez battling over the Orange Lantern to Parallax tearing the Spectre’s face off to Black Hand’s entirely unwholesome expression of pure bliss, this is a work of absolute magnificance.

Tiny Titans #25

And on the other end of the spectrum, we have the awesomely happy “Tiny Titans.” DC’s busiest writer, Geoff Johns, shares writing duties on this one and even makes a guest appearance inside. It’s the first appearance of Conner Kent as Superboy in the TinyTitansverse, as well as Match, Conner’s stinky bizarro-clone. I was also fairly gleeful to see another new addition to the cast — Stargirl from the various JSA comics.

Maybe this means we’ll start seeing some of the other JSA kids hanging around the treehouse, too.

Anyway, Speedy trades in a bunch of old junk at the pawn shop for a wad of bubble gum, and when Starfire and Stargirl pick up a bunch of multi-colored rings to share with their friends, they all get a big surprise:

The whole spectrum of power ring corps, all rendered in Tiny Titans awesomeness. I kinda saw that coming, but I also kinda didn’t see it coming, and that makes the whole thing even cooler.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun, fun, fun stuff. It’s great for kids, and it’s great for grownups, too. If you’re not picking this one up, you should be.

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Final Milestones

Milestone Forever #1

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the comics produced by Milestone Media back in the ’90s. I loved the art, I loved the writing, I loved the dialogue and characterizations, I loved the idea that they were making superhero comics that looked like something other than a bunch of white people hanging out in spandex. Heck, “Blood Syndicate” got me back to reading comics, after years of ignoring them. And when I heard DC was going to bring all those characters back a year or two ago, I was real excited. It didn’t turn out so well — Dwayne McDuffie tried to re-introduce them during his run on “Justice League of America,” but DC kept taking control of the book away from him so they could promote new crossovers. And then DC announced that, whoops, they were foolin’, and other than Static, they had no plans to use the other Milestone characters for anything.

But the Milestone characters are getting one final hurrah — this very short miniseries, written by McDuffie, with artwork by John Paul Leon, M.D. Bright, J.H. Williams III, and Romeo Tanghal. We start out with a focus on Dharma, near-omniscient precog, obsessed with the only thing he can’t see — how the world is about to end. We catch up with Icon and Rocket, Flashback (still trying to kick her crack habit), Holocaust, still scheming, still trying to take over Dakota’s gangs. Holocaust wants his new Blood Syndicate to help him kill Icon, but he doesn’t know that Icon has allies on the way, including Static, Hardware, and even a bunch of Syndicate members. And former Syndicate leader Wise Son is back, ready to fight Holocaust for control of the gang he helped create. Is the ensuing battle going to be the spark that sets of the global armageddon that Dharma fears?

Thumbs up. It’s great to see all these characters again, even if some of them only show up for a panel or two. The dialogue is pretty good, and the story, set against the end of the world scenario that Dharma has foreseen since his first appearance, is still interesting. If I’ve got quibbles, it’s that there are probably too many characters — understandable, since they are trying to make sure all these people get to appear at least once, but it’s too bad we won’t get to spend more time with more of these characters. I also groused a bit about the consistency of the art — Dogg, for instance, ends up being depicted a lot larger than he was in the original comics, and Kwai has lost her Extremely Dramatic Eyebrows. The whole package is gonna run you $6, for just this first issue, but for Milestone fans, I’m still recommending it.

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3

Diana has just received her power ring and become a temporary member of the Star Sapphires. She sets out to bust up some Black Lantern zombies, particularly the resurrected Maxwell Lord, but she gets interrupted by Mera, Queen of Atlantis, now wielding a red power ring as one of the violently angry, blood-puking Red Lanterns. Of course, there’s a huge battle between the two — Mera’s rage won’t even let her think straight, and Wondy doesn’t want to hurt her anyway. Is there a way to get through to Mera before the zombies take all of them down?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As little as I’ve enjoyed the previous books in this mini-miniseries, I wasn’t expecting much from this final issue, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Character and dialogue hit on all cylinders, and the artwork by Nicola Scott is, as always, staggeringly awesome. Favorite bit? Wondy’s awestruck amazement on what it feels like to wield a power ring.

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Question Authority!

The Question #37

Yet another revival of a long-cancelled comic as part of the “Blackest Night” crossover. In this one, Renee Montoya, the new Question, and Tot Rodor, longtime scientific assistant to the Questions, know that Vic Sage, the original Question, is almost certainly going to return as a zombified Black Lantern. But first, they have a little problem with Lady Shiva. She once beat Vic to death years ago, just to prove she could, then revived him so she could do a little gloating. She’s a twisted little gal, ain’t she? Anyway, she’s decided she wants to give Renee the same treatment, which is just darn rude. And of course, Vic makes his big resurrection during their fight and turns on them both. Lady Shiva manages to clear her mind of all emotion, making her invisible to the emotion-seeking zombie. Can Renee and Tot do the same, or are they both heading for a dirtnap?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely small-scale story, told with a near-claustrophobic focus. The entire story is told within a fairly small building on a fairly small island on a dark, rainy night with only four characters — it’s perfect for keeping a tight, terrifying spotlight on the characters and the action. Just an all-around fun story.

The Secrets of Sarah Winchester #1

Okay, I’m an utter sucker for anything having to do with the Winchester Mystery House, which has a backstory bizarre enough to be a comic book entirely free of embellishment. But in this case, Dan Vado and Drew Rausch have embellished it a bit. We start with version of the famous mansion that’s a bit less of a tourist attraction and a bit more of a genuine haunted house. A couple of snooping teens come along wanting to catch a glimpse of the weird old deserted house and are suitable awed by its colossal size. They run into the caretaker and ask to be allowed to look the place over, but he tells them he doesn’t have the key — the house has to be opened by someone — or something — from the inside. And as bad luck would have it, the things inside the house would indeed like to entertain visitors, leading to the mysterious and entirely fatal disappearance of two snooping teens. A flashback to the 1800s follows, as a medium warns Sarah Winchester that she’s been cursed by the spirits of everyone killed with a Winchester firearm, and the only way to escape the curse is to spend the rest of her life pouring her fortune into the ongoing construction of a mansion in California. And then a jump back to the present, as a cop investigating the disappearance of the teenagers has her own encounter with the ghosts in the house… but with a twist that startles the caretaker.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Vado is a big fan of the Winchester mansion and its legend, and he and Rausch have crafted a nice, creepy story about one of the most celebrated weird houses in the country, along with some beautiful, freaky artwork. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to read the rest of this series.

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