Archive for Captain Marvel (DC)

Smackdowns for Everyone


Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #19

Well, first things first: Even if she’s not wearing her familiar Fantastic Four outfit, that’s one of the most awesome cover shots of Sue Storm I’ve ever seen.

Second, I found out, to my great disappointment, that the entirely awesome and hilarious “Marvel Adventures: The Avengers” series has been cancelled, and that nearly all of the “Marvel Adventures” titles are either being cancelled or are going to get revamped and retooled. Honestly, I didn’t see anything wrong with ’em in the first place. And where are we going to get our monthly dose of Giant-Girl?

But anyway, for as long as this title lasts, the current lineup of the Avengers is Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Invisible Woman, the Vision, Nova, and Black Widow. They’re moving into their new headquarters when the supervillain Plant Man pays them a visit. But he’s not here to fight — he needs help because the Silver Surfer has seemingly gone nuts and keeps trying to kill him. While the rest of the Avengers make preparations for the Surfer, the Vision goes to visit the alchemist Diablo who the team met a few issues ago. While they discuss the secret codes of the Voynich Manuscript, the Silver Surfer finally arrives, attacking everyone around him in an attempt to get at Plant Man. And he’s so juiced-up on the Power Cosmic that even Thor has trouble dealing with him. So why won’t the Vision help out in the battle? And what is Reed Richards hiding from the team?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some amusing character bits with Plant Man, a nice solution to the problem of the out-of-control Silver Surfer, and a new mystery to add into the mix. Isn’t it depressing that the only comics that focus on the fun of superheroic stories are the ones marketed mostly to kids?


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #11

Billy is still suffering from something that’s already turned Captain Marvel evil and is slowly corrupting him as well. Mary Marvel and Tawky Tawny escort him to the Rock of Eternity to see if the Wizard Shazam can help him. Trying to figure out what’s wrong, the wizard has Billy say his magic word, then draws the evil out of him — and it manifests as a mirror-image of Captain Marvel who speaks in reverse. While Captain Marvel tries to stop his double from wreaking havoc on the world, the wizard fears that something far more terrible is at work.

Verdict: Thumbs up. If I’ve got a quibble, it’s that the creators didn’t give Evil Marvel the same costume he has on the cover — instead, he and regular Captain Marvel have almost the same costumes, which can sometimes make it hard to tell the two apart. However, beyond that, it’s a great issue, with good characterizations, decent dialogue, excellent action, and a wonderful mystery.

Comments off

Frankenstein’s Vigilante

Punisher #11

Okay, I think we all know by this point that I’m a sucker for monsters. And this one was high-concept enough that it was particularly appealing. In the previous issue of this comic “Punisher: Dark Reign – The List #1” (Thanks for the heads-up, Todd), Frank Castle met up with Wolverine’s rotten son Daken and got cut to pieces, literally. And I’m not using the word “literally” for emphasis — I mean, there went Punisher’s head, there went his arm, there went his leg… So Frank Castle’s dead, right? Well, maybe not. A bunch of mole people collected the Punisher-chunks and carted them away into the sewer, under the protection of the Man-Thing. And Frank gets stitched back together and returned to life by Morbius the Living Vampire, with half-hearted assistance from Jack “Werewolf by Night” Russell and a bunch of other monsters. Why? The monsters of the world are being hunted to extinction by a bunch of high-tech samurai, and they need a soldier like Frank to help them with battle tactics. Unfortunately, Frank’s brain isn’t really firing on all cylinders yet, and he tends to have trouble with anything outside of his personal war on crime. Is he going to be able to help the monsters who saved his life?

Verdict: Thumbs up. And not just because of the mad concept of turning Frank Castle into a patchwork monster. If that was all there was to this, it wouldn’t be worth squat. What I enjoyed about this was Frank’s reaction — even in the midst of his post-reanimation freakout, he expresses deep cynicism, and the trigger point for his rage is the memory of his dead family. And even when he’s calmer, he has the old Frank Castle attitude, and he seems deeply conflicted about having to deal with a bunch of monsters, freaks, and bug people, when he normally focuses on organized crime. There’s been some serious thought put into Frank’s character and reactions, and the results are pretty entertaining. Is it bizarre? Oh, yes. I’m sure Frank will be back in his old body eventually, gunning down mobsters left and right — but I’ve got no idea how they’ll get there from this point. I hope it stays cool, because it looks like it’ll be a lot of fun to read.


Wonder Woman #38

Wonder Woman’s enemy Alkyone has married Achilles and been declared Queen of the Amazons. Wondy, meanwhile, is in prison, under a death sentence. She refuses to escape because if she does, Hippolyta, her mother, will be killed. Artemis plots revolution, Achilles chafes at Alkyone’s plots, Donna Troy searches for Hippolyta, and much darker bargains are made with much darker powers.

Verdict: I’ll give it a nominal thumbs up. The story isn’t that bad, but as I’ve said before, I’ve pretty much had my fill of grim stories here about gods and mythologies — it’s gotten to the point where that’s almost the only story that’s being told in this title, and that needs to change.


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #10

Billy is still unwilling to change into Captain Marvel because Cap has started acting evil. He and Mary are on their way to see the wizard Shazam about this, but they get distracted by a bunch of normal passersby who are robbing a bank — they’ve all been hypnotized by a felonious rocker named Axe. Mary tries to handle the problem solo, but gets hypnotized, too. Can Billy save everyone without resorting to changing into Captain Marvel?

Verdict: I’m gonna thumbs-down it. Part of it was that Axe just wasn’t a very good villain. Part of it is that this is the first all-ages title I’ve seen that combined a complicated multi-part storyline with no recap of previous events. If you’re going to go with continuing storylines in an all-ages book (something I’m just not convinced is a good idea), you’ve got to give new readers some idea of what’s gone on before.

Comments off

Samurai Smash!


Strange Tales #3

I had very high hopes for this one, especially with that outstanding cover by Stan Sakai, creator of “Usagi Yojimbo,” who also contributed the lead story, about an ancient Japanese warrior transformed into a raging green demon by a witch named Gama. But the rest of the stories here are, at best, unimpressive (Peter Bagge’s conclusion of “The Incorrigible Hulk,” Paul Hornschemeier’s talky “battle” between Nightcrawler and the Molecule Man, Jay Stephens’ entirely pedestrian set-up of the Beast vs. Morbius the Living Vampire) and at worst, outright stupid (Corey Lewis’ dayglo Longshot-as-a-club-dork story, Jonathan Jay Lee’s pointless and muddy Punisher story, and Chris Chua’s entirely incomprehensible… I really don’t know what it’s supposed to be, but it goes on for four pages).

Verdict: As bad as the rest of it was, I’m still giving this a thumbs up, solely because of that awesome Stan Sakai Hulk story, which is beautifully illustrated, cleverly thought-out, and extremely entertaining. This miniseries hasn’t been a bad experiment in letting alternate comics creators play around in the Marvel Universe, and it’s certainly an excellent way for readers to discover new creators that they wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #9

An arsonist is trying to burn up the city, but the more perplexing crisis seems to be Captain Marvel’s sudden personality change — he’s turned into a colossal jerk! He insults his friends and family, snubs kids in wheelchairs, ignores the arson crisis, and endangers normal people. What’s going on? And is there anyway to stop Cap before he goes too far?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very interesting mystery, with cute illustrations and storytelling to go with it.


Wonder Woman #37

I missed an issue somewhere down the line, so some of this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Diana gets a visit in her dreams from Ares, God of War, who Wonder Woman killed a few issues back by splitting his skull with an axe. Back on Themyscira, Achilles is romancing one of Wonder Woman’s mortal enemies, the island is plagued by numerous mysterious virgin pregnancies, and Artemis has returned a lost tribe of Amazons home. When Wonder Woman decides to return to Themyscira, she’ll have to battle one of her best friends to make her homecoming.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Even considering that I missed an issue, this didn’t make much sense at all. I know all the Paradise Island stuff is supposed to be important to Wonder Woman, but I’m kinda getting tired of hearing about it all the time. Couldn’t Wonder Woman go bust up some criminals sometime?

Comments off

Portable Holes


Tiny Titans #20

Raven has a great shortcut to school — she just conjures a black hole and steps through to get where she wants to go. Soon enough, everyone in school is using black holes to get around school and to get school supplies they forgot at home. Is there a downside? Not really, other than Beast Boy accidentally hitting himself in the face with a rock. But Terra can do that for him all by herself. Meanwhile, Alfred doesn’t trust the kids to play in the Batcave unsupervised, so he sends a penguin along to keep an eye on things. Of course, the kids soon get into mischief, with Beast Boy trying on a jetpack. Does anyone else suspect this is going to end with everyone standing in a corner?

Verdict: Thumbs up, as always. Beast Boy is the star this issue, since he’s the guy who gets into all the trouble, but Action Alfred is always fun to watch.


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #8

Dr. Sivana is at the controls of a new Mr. Atom robot, now powered by the Marvels’ magic lightning and by Tawky Tawny! The robot is stronger than ever, and every time Captain Marvel or Mary Marvel hit it, Tawny feels all the pain. Even worse, the battle releases Kull, who immediately wants his revenge on Captain Marvel. Luckily, Mary remembers something from science class, using some copper wire and some magic lightning to turn Kull into an electromagnet. Can the Marvels use the magnetic Kull to take care of Sivana and Mr. Atom and save Tawny at the same time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see a little comic-book science make its appearance here with Mary’s electromagnet. Cute art and cute story, too. My only complaint? Even for the conclusion of a lengthy storyarc, this felt a little lightweight.

Comments off

Shaggy Dog Story


Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #4

Uh-oh, Thanos is on the scene, and he means to get all the Infinity Gems away from the Pet Avengers. None of them are tough enough to take him on, so Frog Thor (I just can’t get into calling him “Throg” — even for this series, it’s too silly) takes all the gems and gives them to Lockjaw, on the pretense that Lockjaw is going to betray them all and hand them over. Instead, Lockjaw blasts Thanos a few times, then teleports him pretty much all over the place before stranding him in an alternate universe where he can’t get back. Huzzah! Cute animals triumph over evil!

Verdict: I’ll give it a thumbs up, because this issue was still plenty fun. But this was still the weakest issue of the series. If Thanos couldn’t understand what the animals were saying, why all the subterfuge that Frog Thor goes through? How did Ms. Lion survive getting a face-full of Thanos-blast? Why wasn’t Lockjaw more powerful when he possessed all of the Infinity Gems? Still, like I said, lots of good fun in this one, and I’m looking forward to the planned ongoing series with these characters.


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #7

Dr. Sivana is back and plotting more evil. After learning about Tawky Tawny’s connections to Billy and Mary, he manages to trail them to their home, bug their apartment, kidnap Tawny, and lead them straight into a trap — he’s re-activated the giant robot Mr. Atom, and he’s managed to super-charge him with the Marvels’ own lightning! Do they stand a chance to stop Dr. Sivana’s schemes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Cute story, cute art, and they manage to raise the stakes and make things even more dangerous for Billy and Mary. That’s actually a pretty nice accomplishment for a kids comic.


Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #39

The Leader, the Abomination, and the Rhino are pulling off a ton of crimes as they work toward a plan to take over an orbital super-laser. Wolverine gets conned into making hot dogs while wearing an apron, just so Spidey can upload the pix to the Internet. Luke Cage beats the Abomination by beating him senseless with Wolverine. Spidey and Storm beat the Leader with rain. And Rhino wants out of the villain biz, so he and Tigra fake an epic battle so he’ll have an excuse to retire.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one was just spectacular fun. The coolest scene was Tigra’s faked battle royale with Rhino — in a dramatic, drenching downpour, no less. The prize for best line goes to Tigra for: “Won the fight. Stole a line from the Thing. I’m totally a hero, and everything’s fine.” Just plain fantastic stuff.

Comments off

The Golden Ticket


All Winners Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

If you’d told me a few months ago that I’d be grooving this hard on a bunch of comics commemorating Marvel’s Golden Age, I’da laughed in your face. The Golden Age of comics — mostly centering around World War II — is something that requires a lot of nostalgia to get into, ’cause if you read the original comics from that era, they’re often not that good. But without the Golden Age, you wouldn’t have had any comics at all, and for that alone, it deserves respect. But I’ve always been more interested in DC’s Golden Age, mostly because DC does such a good job of promoting their Golden Age characters through the “Justice Society” series. Marvel? What’s there to know but Captain America, Bucky, the Human Torch, and Namor, right?

Well, wrong. This series of specials has been absolutely amazing — some of the best writing and artwork to come out of Marvel in ages, along with some of the best stories from the real Golden Age, too. If you haven’t picked them up yet, go get to it.

As for this story, we start out shortly after the end of World War II, with the All Winners Squad taking on Future Man and Madame Death. Captain America makes a careless error that leaves Future Man’s time ship falling through time, though the heroes escape safely. Waitaminute, wasn’t Cap frozen in ice at the end of the war? Yes, this is a guy named Jeff Mace who is a replacement Captain America — and he doesn’t feel he’s earned the right to take Cap’s place yet. There’s also some additional soap-opera drama — Miss America is pretending she and Cap are dating to get the media talking, which is making her real boyfriend, the Whizzer (snicker!) jealous. But a night out on the town soon devolves into an attack by undead soldiers — and when a zombie Captain America appears and says that he’ll return to life if the replacement Cap dies, what’s going to happen then?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful plotting, dialogue, characterization, and artwork. The soap opera elements inject several months’ worth of drama into only a few pages, and the surprise villain was perfect for the story.


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #6

Dr. Sivana has escaped from prison, but Captain Marvel doesn’t have time to track him down — there’s a Bigfoot terrorizing the area. Wait, that’s no Bigfoot, that’s King Kull, timelost barbarian warrior with a magic gun that turns wood into metal. But Kull may be as strong as Cap, and he’s definitely a more experienced fighter, plus his gun leads to some very rough moments for the Big Red Cheese. Is there a way for Cap to prevail?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This story is again written by Art Baltazar and Franco, who are best known for their work on “Tiny Titans” and “Patrick the Wolf Boy,” while artwork is provided by Stephen DeStafano. At first, I thought DeStefano’s art was extremely weird for this book, but the more the story continued, the more I liked it — it’s like a combination of ’60s underground art and retro Golden Age cartooning. It ends up being very appealing and perfect for a character like Captain Marvel.

Comments off

Jurassic Dog Park

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #2

The Pet Avengers — namely, the Inhumans’ teleporting dog Lockjaw, a new version of Frog Thor, the Falcon’s falcon Redwing, Speedball’s cat Hairball, Kitty Pryde’s dragon Lockheed, and Aunt May’s dog Ms. Lion — visit the Savage Land and get a new member: Ka-Zar’s sabretoothed tiger Zabu. They all travel to the distant past to retrieve one of the Infinity Gems — and they tangle with none other than the great Devil Dinosaur to get it. Can they all get the gem, avoid Devil Dinosaur, and return to the present? Or are they going to have to leave some team members behind?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a great deal of fun, with great characterization. And hey, Devil Dinosaur! Everyone loves Devil Dinosaur!

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #5

This is the first issue of this series without Mike Kunkel running the show — his stuff is wonderful, but he works slow, which makes it hard to keep a monthly series coming out every month. So this time, the art is provided by Byron Vaughns, with script by Art Baltazar and Franco, creators of the “Tiny Titans” and “Patrick the Wolf Boy” series.

After Captain Marvel saves a school bus, Billy Batson finds that his alter ego has gotten a little old-hat — WHIZ-TV needs new footage for their newscasts. Luckily (or unluckily), the imprisoned Dr. Sivana picks that moment to unleash his giant robot, Mr. Atom, on the city. Can Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel shut Mr. Atom down without getting themselves — or the city — blown up in the process?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Baltazar and Franco’s story and script aren’t nearly as complex or wordy as Kunkel’s usually were, but it does make an interesting change. And Vaughns’ artwork is close enough to Kunkel’s usual style to keep everyone happy. So seriously, why hasn’t this comic been turned into a cartoon yet? There’s not much doubt it’d make an awesome cartoon…

Comments off

Lightning Bugged

Justice Society of America #25

What. A. Train wreck.

Evil Pink-Ponytailed Mary Marvel gets unpowered Billy Batson to say her name, thus turning him into, I dunno, Evil Captain Marvel Junior? Evil Black Adam Junior? Evil Mary Marvel Junior? I don’t know, but he’s evil and stuff. Isis, meanwhile, has turned into a total mass-murdering villain. Atom Smasher turns in the most overwrought, hackneyed and ridiculous narration ever. Flash and Billy Batson’s father go to a place called the Rock of Finality, which is basically the Evil Rock of Eternity, where the Seven Sacred Virtues of Man are chained up and where the wizard Shazam has been turned into a stone statue. Black Adam finally turns on his crazy “family” and helps free Shazam, who repays the Marvel Family and the Black Marvel Family alike by taking their powers away and turning Teth-Adam and Adrianna Tomaz into statues. As for the rest of the Justice Society, everyone decides that everyone gets to remain on the team, which is the lone bright spot for this comic.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This was absolute garbage. I figured they’d try to hit the reset button on the Marvel Family, after the disastrously awful way DC has treated the characters over the past few years, but I never imagined they’d actually go and make the situation even worse. The explanation that “Black Adam’s powers are inherently corrupting” is insultingly simple-minded, and Shazam’s harsh treatment of everyone suggests that Geoff Johns has a spectacularly poor grasp of the character. The whole thing is just a complete embarrassment.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #4

In the latest issue of Mike Kunkel‘s all-ages take on the Captain Marvel mythos, it’s Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel vs. Black Adam and the Seven Deadly Sins of Man. Unfortunately, Cap and Adam find themselves completely unable to harm each other. Forced to adopt a very complicated strategy, Billy and Mary use their magic lightning to defeat all the Sins but Selfishness, then convince Adam to go to the Rock of Eternity to drain the power of the imprisoned Sins. This leads to Adam and Selfishness battling for the Sins’ power, giving Billy the edge he needs to take them both down.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice, cute, and funny. Billy’s tactics are a bit byzantine, but still pretty entertaining.

Comments off

Angels and Demons

We got time to look at a couple of new all-ages books? Yes, I do believe we can swing that.

PS238 #36

The unpowered Tyler Marlocke and his superpowered clone, now named Toby, are in the process of getting their parents used to the fact that they’re now twins. Meanwhile, Malphast, the son of an angel and a demon (think of him as a pint-sized Spawn), has discovered that his parents and the forces of primal order and chaos plan to invade the mortal world to force their collective wills upon humanity — which will certainly result in the destruction of the Earth. Malphast enlists the aid of the Marlocke twins, conspiracy-minded Cecil Holmes (and his mystical bat-winged coat), and Alec Kent, a local kid with some math talent.

While the little imps and cherubs influence superheroes to chase the kids down, Malphast and his friends draw some crayon glyphs to foil the bad guys and make a stopover in the astral plane to shut down the invasion at its source. Luckily, when Cecil travels to other dimensions, he turns into a giant, tentacled monster, but even with his giant, tentacled aid, can they discover the secret that will stop the invasion in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, this series is a colossal amount of fun. I don’t think Cecil was always this much fun — I think he’s gotten to be a more enjoyable character as time’s gone on. Seriously, y’all should pick this one up if you have the chance.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #3

Theo Adam has released the Seven Evils, and he finally manages to trick Mary Marvel into revealing their magic word to him. One “Shazam!” later, and the evil Black Adam is released on the world. While Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel try to figure out how to stop the Evils, Adam heads out to take over the city. Is there any way to stop him?

Verdict: This one is still awfully cute, but I think I’m going to give it a thumbs down. I enjoyed all the stuff with Cap, Mary, Adam, and the Evils (sounds like a band, doesn’t it?), but there was a lot of filler in this story, including Cap staying up all night to watch horror movies, and Billy meets a bunch of weird kids who have been given permanent detention. It’s bizarre and it goes on for way, way too long.

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Comedic Skull Fracture!

Tonight’s edition of Friday Night Fights comes to us from the story “Fear in Philadelphia” in February 1977’s Shazam! #27 by E. Nelson Bridwell, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Vince Colletta. It pits Captain Marvel against four generic thugs. Is there any way for the Big Red Cheese to prevail against such overwhelming odds?

Ahh, cartoonish, over-the-top violence, is there anything you can’t accomplish?

Comments off