Archive for Captain Marvel (DC)


Avengers Academy #4

After getting treated to Mettle’s stomach-churning origin (Hawaiian surfer-dude gets his face demolished in a surfing accident — but wherever he loses skin or cartilage, there’s just shiny red metal behind it. And then Norman Osborn gets hold of him and makes it worse.), we get into the meat of the story. The kids from Avengers Academy — selected not because they’re going to be great heroes, but because they have the potential to become great villains — are visiting the Raft, a maximum security supervillain prison. Mettle, Hazmat, and Veil have taken advantage of a blackout to go looking for Norman Osborn to get revenge on him for the way he screwed up their lives. But Osborn talks them down, saying that he’s made them great and promising that he can “fix” them.

Soon enough, the other supervillains start breaking out of their cells and giving the Academy kids and the Thunderbolts trouble. Mettle gets into a fistfight with the Juggernaut and has a little too much enthusiasm for it. Man-Thing shows up and scares the heck out of everyone. Hazmat threatens to give a convict cancer. And eventually, everyone gets the prison back under control, and the kids get kicked out of the prison.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A huge amount of fun. This is a great concept for a series — teen heroes who might turn out to be teen villains — and I love how it’s all progressing. Christos Gage and Mike McKone are both doing great work on this series. And I also like how this crossover between “Avengers Academy” and “Thunderbolts” was handled — they’re telling the same story in both comics, but with different points-of-view. If you don’t read one series, you don’t miss out on half the plot.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #20

It’s the final showdown between the Marvels and Black Adam — and everyone gets their first big surprise when Mary says her magic word and transforms — not into the pint-sized superhero we’re accustomed to — but into a grown-up Mary Marvel! In the confusion, Black Adam escapes from the Rock of Eternity and unleashes all of Captain Marvel’s greatest foes on Fawcett City. Cap ends up taking down all the bad guys almost single-handedly, but Black Adam has one more nasty little trick hiding up his sleeve.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s the next-to-the-last issue of this series, and it’s wrapping up quite well. Art Baltazar and Franco are doing some of the best writing they’ve done on this comic, and Mike Norton is producing some really charismatic, fun art. It’s kinda weird to see a grown-up Mary Marvel — we’ve had a lot of time to get used to Mary as the super-speedy super-kid. Clearly, the creators planned to do this eventually, and the cancellation of the series just pushed it (and the introduction of Captain Marvel Jr. last issue) forward much sooner than planned. Still, great story, great art — let’s hope they can keep it going for the finale.

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Greased Lightning

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #19

Captain Marvel has had a run-in with a villain called the Vampire Burglar, who doesn’t look much like either a vampire or a burglar, but he’s managed to steal away most of Cap’s life energy, leaving him looking like an old man and not too far away from actually dying. In desperation, Mary and Tawny turn to Freddy Freeman to help them get to the Rock of Eternity — he’s no big fan of the Marvels, but he’s moved to help out. They decide to summon the wizard, even though they don’t know whether Black Adam will return. And as it turns out, Black Adam is exactly who comes back, with extra powers he gained while running around the wizard’s pocket dimension. He’s more than powerful enough to take care of Mary, Tawny, and Black Adam Jr., and even the return of the wizard doesn’t leave them on much better ground. The only hope for Cap is for Freddy to make a very big sacrifice.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very good story. Lots of action, lots of emotional resonance, very fun art. I loved it from beginning to end, quite honestly.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #20

Big Barda comes to request Batman’s aid to find her kidnapped husband, Mister Miracle — and when they go to their suburban home to investigate, they’re immediately attacked by forces from Apokolips, including the Female Furies, who are trying to kill off Mister Miracle so Barda will return to lead them. The heroes are able to rescue Miracle from the rocketship deathtrap he’s been tied to, but he’s in no shape to fight, and Batman and Barda are badly outnumbered by the Furies. Can they figure out a way to get rid of the Furies before a tragedy occurs?

The followup story is a reprint of the Martian Manhunter story from… two issues ago? Holy baloney, that’s weak.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story with Big Barda was alright — not the strongest story, but not particularly bad. But reprinting a story that’s just two months old? That’s either a wildly inept screwup or the most blatant expression of “We’ve been canceled, we don’t care anymore” contempt I’ve seen in a long, long time. Whichever it is, it’s enough to kill any enjoyment the first story may have left behind.

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Mummy Dearest

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #18

Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel discover a new intruder inside the Rock of Eternity — a magical Egyptian mummy who claims he was cursed by the wizard Shazam and Black Adam centuries ago and released during Black Adam’s recent rampage. How tough could a dried-up old mummy be? Captain Marvel knocks his jaw off… but he can regenerate himself easily. And he’s got a mystical device called the Horn of Horrors that can summon hordes of demons. Cap can beat up demons all day, but all Mary has on her side is her speed. And the mummy is creating even more demons back on Earth, too. Can the Marvels defeat the mummy and his monsters?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a simple, straightforward story, with a few clever twists. And Mary gets a rare chance to show off her superhero bonafides, too. All that, plus a not-so-subtle setup for some future stories, too.

Detective Comics #867

There’s a new gang in town — the Jokerz, a bunch of private citizens, mostly law-abiding, who have gotten addicted to a low-dose variant of Joker venom. They get called together flash-mob style to run amok, trash places, and cause chaos. Their ringleader is a man dressed up as the Joker, who engineers a regular Jokerz riot into something more deadly when he shoots and wounds a cop, who then shoots one of the Jokerz. When the gang later marches on the Gotham Police Department, Commissioner Gordon orders his cops to use rubber bullets, convinced that the Jokerz aren’t a violent gang. Turns out he was wrong. Now in addition to angering his own cops, a new player is impersonating the Batman and telling Gotham’s citizens to emulate Batman’s vigilante tactics.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see the Jokerz outside of the old “Batman Beyond” cartoon, and the Joker impersonator looks like he could be an interesting villain. Only quibble — Batman sure didn’t do very much in this issue… Hopefully, that’ll change later…

Green Lantern #56

Giant-headed super-psychic Hector Hammond gets extraterrestrial help in breaking out of prison, and he goes off looking for Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris. Hal, meanwhile, is in Minnesota, trying to find Larfleeze, who’s busy stealing everything he can, no matter how valueless. Hal eventually finds Larfleeze working on… a letter to Santa? Hey, when you’re the greediest thing in the cosmos, why not try to hit up the Patron Saint of Greed for some more loot? But before long, Hammond shows up and grabs away Larfleeze’s orange lantern, intent on freeing Ophidian, the orange lantern entity trapped inside. Certainly two ring slingers can fight off a floating, paralyzed telepath, right? Well, not unless Hammond eats the orange lantern…

Verdict: Thumbs up. An issue focusing on the awesomely greedy Larfleeze? Oh, yes, I’ll have more of that, please.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Lubbock’s Star Comics has a new website design. Go check it out…
  • Full trailer for next year’s “Thor” movie. Doesn’t look bad. A bit longer than I was expecting, but doesn’t look bad.
  • Whoa, the triceratops we’ve all been familiar with since kindergarten may have just been a baby version of another dinosaur?
  • The “Friends of Lulu” organization advocating for women comics creators is in trouble. Let’s hope it can survive…

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Urban Cowboy

Reed Gunther #4

President Grover Cleveland has received alarming reports of monster attacks all over the nation, so he calls out the fearsome Special Agent Mundy to take care of the situation. Meanwhile, adventuresome but somewhat dim cowboy Reed Gunther and his pet bear Sterling have just arrived in New York City, where Sterling is immediately mistaken for a monster, and that leads to a frantic chase, as Reed and Sterling try to both take in the big city sights and avoid getting shot by monster-hunters. And it all ends with Sterling in Mundy’s custody, and Reed with no guns, no where to stay, and no pants. Can Reed track down where Sterling and the monsters are being held? Can he get free from Agent Mundy? And does he still have a chance of finding Starla and the evil Mr. Picks?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Ye gods, this one was a lot of fun. Lots of very funny lines from Reed, lots of great shenanigans around the city, great depictions of 1880s NYC, excellent action, the grand comic reappearance of Grover Cleveland, and a bonus pinup by Stan Sakai!

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #17

This one’s a break from all the heavy, serious stories of the past several issues. Aliens are abducting cows all over the nearby countryside, and Billy is assigned to help investigate the story for WHIZ news. Mary tags along, and they soon discover that, despite the local farmers’ lame attempts to disguise their cows as human beings, the abductions continue. After changing into Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel, the heroes confront the alien responsible and learn his surprising reason for his cow-napping spree.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very cute, very humorous, and very fun. This is what this comic should be about all the time.

The Avengers #2

The Avengers meet up with their newest member, Marvel Boy, an interdimensional Kree warrior named Noh-Varr, and ask them to build them a time machine so they can try to keep their future children from destroying the universe. What Noh-Varr builds is a time viewer that lets them see a number of different alternate futures, including the world of Spider-Girl, the Days of Future Past, and the Age of Apocalypse. They get to see their kids execute Kang the Conqueror, and then time apparently breaks. And before Marvel Boy can get to work on a new time machine, Wonder Man busts in, bellows some threats, knocks everyone around, and then vanishes. After that — hey, look! It’s Apocalypse and a brand new bunch of Horsemen!

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ve got some concerns about Wonder Man’s out-of-nowhere attack, but I’m also thinking this is either a mind-control situation, or a Wonder Man from the future. Other than that, the dialogue is okay — maybe a bit strained in places, especially when Spider-Man tries to wisecrack, the action is pretty good, and we’ve got some interesting conflicts being set up.

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Bruce Pilgrim vs. the World

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2

Bruce Wayne is lost in time — after spending some time in prehistory, he awakens in colonial-era Gotham, fights a time-monster, and is rescued by a witch named Annie. Elsewhen, Superman, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Rip Hunter visit the Vanishing Point, the final 10 minutes before the end of the universe, where the high-tech temporal archivist explains a few details of time travel. Back in colonial days, Bruce has gotten acclimated and taken up a new identity as Brother Mordecai, a witchfinder with a serious bent toward detective work and uncovering non-witch scam artists. He’s opposed, however, by Brother Malleus, who takes his witchfinding very, very seriously. Will Bruce be able to keep Annie safe? Will he be able to foil Malleus’ plots? Will he be able to defeat the time-monster? And why is the time archivist stranding the superheroes at the end of the universe?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Artist Frazer Irving worked on the similarly-themed “Klarion” miniseries during Grant Morrison’s “Seven Soldiers” event, and his art is wonderful — though I do wish he’d made Bruce Wayne look a bit different from Brother Malleus. Aside from that, it’s another excellent issue. Gee, ain’t it a wonder that a fanatic like Bruce Wayne makes such a great pilgrim?

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #16

Black Adam is back, and he’s empowered Freddy Freeman as Black Adam Junior. While Captain Marvel and Black Adam are mystically unable to harm each other, Black Adam Junior is able to hurt Cap, so while Junior pounds on the hero, Black Adam uses the distraction to look for the ancient scarab medallion he believes will make him even more powerful. When he can’t find it, he accuses Cap of hiding it, and he starts flinging cars at innocent bystanders to get him to tell him where it is. This doesn’t sit well with Junior, but all Adam cares about is getting the scarab back. And when Mary accidentally blabs that the Wizard Shazam has it, they’re all off for the Rock of Eternity for a final battle.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Just didn’t enjoy the story. And it turned out a lot darker, more violent, and more depressing than I’d rather see in an all-ages comic.

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Fellowship of the Rings

Green Lantern #53

The Blackest Night is over, and the primary representatives of the various Lantern corps are continuing on with their lives. While Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris try to figure out if they can continue their always-stormy relationship, Sinestro reveals that a white power battery has appeared and demanded to to see Hal. Saint Walker helps the Flash rebury the dead of Coast City, a mysterious someone from Sector 666 is holding secret telepathic conversations with Hector Hammond, and Larfleeze gets manipulated by Lex Luthor. All that, plus Atrocitus is making some very surprising new allies.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is fine, if a bit all over the place. Doug Mahnke’s art is what really makes this issue sing. From the blasted surface of the dead planet Ryut, to Hal and Carol flirting in a bar, to Saint Walker’s benedictions in the cemetery, to Sayd‘s look of sorrow as Larfleeze’s captive Guardian, to Luthor’s beautifully thoughtful and evil expressions — they’re all rendered just about as perfectly as I could ever imagine them. There’s no way DC is paying Mahnke enough for work this gorgeous.


Batgirl #9

Stephanie saves a train from a mad — okay, mostly just angry — bomber, while Barbara Gordon continues mentoring the recently-paralyzed Wendy, brother of the late Marvin and daughter of the Calculator. Wendy is generally hostile to getting any help beyond just fixing up electronics. But the Calculator has some evil new plans, including a new binary nanite system that can control and kill people over the phone, and some all-new and all-crazy plans to get rid of Oracle once and for all.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great and fun superheroics, with plenty of excellently crafted action, dialogue, characterization, and suspense, courtesy of writer Bryan Q. Miller, and some outstanding action-packed and downright cinematic artwork from Lee Garbett.

Booster Gold #31

This is Dan Jurgens’ last issue on this title. Booster and Skeets head into the city to beat up some high-tech thieves. Booster is still angry about having to help ensure the past destruction of Coast City in the last issue, as well as being worried about his sister Michelle, who is still upset at the death of her boyfriend in the same disaster. Unfortunately, Booster isn’t paying close attention, and he accidentally deflects an energy blast the wrong way and kills a little girl’s dog. He can’t console the girl or replace the dog, and he leaves the scene feeling like he’s still a colossal failure. Can Booster make peace with his sister and make amends for the dog’s accidental death?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This series has had its problems, but this is a pretty nice issue, mainly because it’s low-key and simple, with more emphasis on emotions and character than on convoluted time travel.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #15

Freddy Freeman has accepted power from Black Adam, turning himself into Black Adam Junior. Captain Marvel and Black Adam battle clear to Egypt, neither able to hurt the other, while Adam seeks a scarab necklace that he believes will make him vastly more powerful. Mary, meanwhile, alternately beats up on Freddy and tries to talk some sense into him. Eventually, Mary and Mr. Tawny go to see if the wizard can help out, leaving Cap to take on Adam and Freddy solo.

Verdict: Ehh, neither one. It seems perfectly well done, but it’s just not keeping me interested.

Oh, one final note: y’all be here tomorrow — I got a special announcement to make…

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Speed Lines

The Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010 #1

Ooooo, first issue. Ya gonna have more than one “Flash Secret Files and Origins” issue this year, DC?

We’ve got two stories in this one — first, Barry Allen is obsessing about who killed his mother. You didn’t know someone killed Barry Allen’s mother? It’s a retcon — his mom wasn’t ever really mentioned until recently, when it was suddenly revealed that someone killed her when he was a little kid, and his dad got blamed for it and died in prison. Barry doesn’t believe that his dad killed his mom, and that’s what steered him toward work as a police scientist as a career. Our second story focuses on the Rogues — Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master, and the Trickster — visit the original Mirror Master’s spooky headquarters to check into an old anti-Flash contingency plan. And after that, there are profiles of the Flash, his supporting cast, and his villains.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, I didn’t really mind it that much. It’s light, but you’re not going to get any real deep stories in these “Secret Files” comics. The worst I can say for it is I think they slipped up and revealed the solution to the big mystery without realizing it.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #14

Black Adam is back, thanks to Freddy Freeman telling an amnesiac Theo Adam the magic word he needed. He and Captain Marvel knock each other around, and Mary Marvel tries to talk some sense into Freddy. Black Adam realizes he can find an amulet from ancient Egypt to get enough power to destroy the Marvels once and for all, but can he find an ally to help him out?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oddly, the slowest parts of this story are the slugfests between Captain Marvel and Black Adam. Everything aside from that is pretty darn cool. And the ending twist is pretty nice, too, even if we saw it coming pretty early.

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Wrecking Shangri-La

Madame Xanadu #20

Our flashback to Britain’s earliest history continues, through the eyes of Nimue, the future Madame Xanadu. The Romans have invaded, and Morgana is amusing herself by meddling in human affairs, in more ways than one. Nimue generally disapproves of everything she does, because that’s what she seems to do best. The sisters meet up with a young Merlin, who’s better at fortunetelling than Nimue is, and Morgana tries to destroy Camelot before it’s even begun.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Really just wildly not thrilled with this particular story — it sure makes Nimue sound like the original Miss Disapproval. She’s always sticking her nose in Morgana’s business and whining about whatever she’s doing. And I’m getting a bit frustrated that we’ve got a whole huge storyarc stuffed inside another storyarc. Can we please finish up one storyarc at a time?

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #13

Billy and Mary Batson are visiting the museum for a school field trip — complicated by the fact that Captain Marvel is supposed to make an appearance, so Billy has to somehow get away from his teacher and classmates so he can make the switch. Complicating things even more: Theo Adam, the amnesiac alter-ego of Black Adam, is in attendance, and he is suspicious of why Billy and Mary seem strangely familiar to him. And complicating things even more than that: a kid named Freddy Freeman who’s stuck in a wheelchair because Captain Marvel wasn’t able to keep his apartment building from collapsing, so he hates the Marvels. What’s it all lead to? Even more complications.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mike Norton is the new artist on this one, and his style is really wonderful. As for the story, it’s great fun. We get the introduction of Freddy Freeman, we get a nice new storyline featuring crazy Theo Adam, we get Captain Marvel checking to see if his fly is open, we get Mary getting stuck inside a giant hourglass. It’s crazy and chaotic and an excellent read.

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Tiny Titans #24

The bats from the Batcave have invaded the Titans’ treehouse, and they’re demanding cake and milk! Well, who wouldn’t, right? But now they’ve drunk all the milk Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, and Blue Beetle were going to use on their Aqua-Oh’s cereal. Luckily, they’re able to borrow some milk from the Atom’s family (Snap! Snap!), but unfortunately, the milk has a strange effect on them — they all shrink as small as the Atoms! The perfect size for the bats to snack on! Can the Atom and his friends help the Titans? The Ant calls on his uncle, Uncle Ant (Uncle Aunt? No, Uncle Ant!), who has the power to enlarge them — but will he enlarge them too far?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Extremely cute, as always, and perfect reading for kids or adults who love goofy stuff. All that, plus guest starring appearances from the Batcow, the Ryan Choi version of the Atom, and more tiny pictures of Bat-villains on the Bat-computer.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #12

The mirror Captain Marvel has been revealed as Mister Mind — and he’s managed to take away Billy’s powers! Though Billy is soon able to turn back into Captain Marvel, Mr. Mind has released a horde of demons on the city and he even manages to drop a skyscraper on Captain Marvel! Meanwhile, Mr. Tawny is trying to deal with losing his shapeshifting abilities and being stuck permanently as a talking bipedal tiger.

Verdict: Ehh, not too bad. Might be a tad predictable, but it’s good all-ages fun. And it’s nice to see Tawky Tawny back in his traditional suit and tie, too.

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People Who Died

We’re gonna look at a trio of the old canceled comics that DC has resurrected for “Blackest Night”…

Starman #81

This is the one I think everyone was nervous about. James Robinson’s “Starman” series was one of the best comics of the ’90s — or any decade, really — but his recent DC work has been pretty unimpressive, to say the least. There was a lot of fear that he’d tarnish the “Starman” legacy with some badly-written garbage, but as it turns out, he brought his A-game to this one.

Jack Knight, the Starman from the ’90s series, doesn’t appear, and neither does his dad, the Golden Age Starman who died at the end of that series. The villain here is the zombified David Knight, Jack’s brother, who was very briefly Starman before Jack was. While David slaughters cops in Opal City, we learn that the Shade, immortal darkness-controlling former villain, and Hope O’Dare, lone distaff member of a large family of police officers, have become lovers. With the Black Lantern Starman threatening to wipe Opal City off the map and track down Jack Knight to kill him, is there any way to stop him? Especially after he tears out the Shade’s heart?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This was a huge relief — and I’m glad Robinson was inspired enough by the return to Opal City to put out a great story. It’s a great Shade story, a great O’Dare story, and we even manage to catch a few glimpses of the glorious Opal City architecture. My only disappointment: they got James Robinson back to write it, they got Tony Harris back to do the cover, but I wish they could’ve arranged for Peter Snejbjerg to come back to do the pencils. At any rate, Fernando Dagnino takes care of the art, with Bill Sienkiewicz inking, and while it’s a different look, it looks pretty good.

Catwoman #83

Catwoman tangles with the zombified Black Mask, a gangster who she killed after he tortured her sister. In fact, when he realizes he can’t terrify her, he decides to track down her sister in an insane asylum and finish the job. Selina enlists the aid of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, but will they be able to stop him before he kills Catwoman and her sister?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, good art, decent characterization, and they even tossed in some set-ups for future stories… if there are any future “Catwoman” comics…

The Power of Shazam! #48

A bit of an odd one here, as this story focuses on a character who wasn’t even around until long after this series was cancelled — namely, Osiris, the young counterpart to Freddie Freeman in Black Adam’s “Black Marvel” family from the “52” series a few years ago. Osiris is resurrected with a Black Lantern ring, but he doesn’t have the murderous attitude of the other Black Lantern zombies. In fact, he doesn’t even know he’s dead, doesn’t understand why everyone is so afraid of him, and successfully resists all of the black ring’s influences. Unfortunately, Sobek, the evil crocodile monster who killed Osiris has also come back from the dead, and he’s still very, very hungry…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It was weird to have a story where one of the Black Lanterns wasn’t evil, and it was weird to have a Captain Marvel comic where Captain Marvel only appeared in civilian guise on a single page, but I liked it anyway. Osiris was a cool character, and it’s nice to get to see him again, even if he’s all withered and rotten…

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