Archive for Countdown to Mystery

Farewell to a Master


Countdown to Mystery #8

In our first story, Eclipso is defeated by the Spectre in a fairly neat fashion — Crispus Allen, the Spectre’s host, convinces Bruce Gordon, Eclipso’s host, to surrender. But listen, no one really cares about that one, nice though it is. The big news is the Dr. Fate story. The previous chapters were written by the late Steve Gerber. It looks like he didn’t finish the script, so instead, DC asked Mark Waid, Mark Evanier, Gail Simone, and Adam Beechen to each write the final chapter the way they thought Gerber would have finished it up. They’re all pretty good, but I think I prefer Simone’s ending.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Dr. Fate story really does end up being excellent, but I would’ve loved to see what Gerber had planned for the finale.


Pigeons from Hell #2

Second issue of this wonderfully creepy adaptation by Texan Joe R. Lansdale of a classic horror tale by Texan Robert E. Howard. I recommended y’all read the story last month, and I’m gonna go ahead and recommend it again — it’s good ghoulish fun. In this issue, the stranded friends have to spend the night in the creepy old mansion, but when one of them goes upstairs to check on some noises… Well, let’s just say when he comes back downstairs, he’s not right in the head. All that, plus creepy ghosts, a horrific murder, and more blood and gore than you’ll be able to believe.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A great writer adapting a story by a great writer. And the art, which I was a bit iffy on last month, is really hitting its stride now. I’m very enthusiastic about this comic now.

Comments off

Flies on the Wall


House of Mystery #1

DC looks to be trying to recreate one of their classic horror anthologies, with a few twists. In this first issue, we discover that someone has somehow stolen Cain’s House of Mystery from out of the Dreaming itself. Much later, there are a bunch of people living in it — actually, they have no choice but to live in it. In fact, they never get to leave, except for rarely, when a strange coach arrives and whisks one of the tenants away, never to be seen again. We get into this issue’s setpiece after that, the odd life story of a girl named Hungry Sally.

Listen, if you don’t like disturbing, creepy, gory stuff, Hungry Sally’s story is gonna put you off your lunch. If you do like disturbing, creepy, gory stuff, it’s still likely to be unlike anything you’ve read in a comic book before. It involves pregnancy. And flies. I don’t think I can tell more than that without spoiling it. Viewer discretion is advised.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yow, very squishy. I’m certainly willing to give this another shot. With any luck, the involvement of Cain and Abel from the “Sandman” series could mean we’ll eventually see a story or two from Neil Gaiman himself. Well, that’s what I’ve got my fingers crossed for.


Hulk #3

Most of this issue is devoted to the red Hulk, still a man of mystery, fighting the new blue Abomination — the former Rick Jones, now calling himself A-Bomb. Their battle ends up freeing Bruce Banner and turning him back into the familiar green Hulk. And aside from all that, there’s Iron Man, She-Hulk, and S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to figure out who the new Hulk is.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out who the red Hulk is. Does that make me smarter than Tony Stark yet?


Countdown to Mystery #7

Bruce Gordon manages to free Plastic Man, the Creeper, and Dove from Eclipso’s influence, but a bunch of Eclipso worshippers manage to make Gordon turn into the villainous vengeance demon and merge him with a giant black diamond, vastly increasing his power. The only being who can stop him now is the Spectre, but the thousands of souls who he’s damned over the centuries are back and ready to take their own revenge. Elsewhere, the Helmet of Fate gets taken by someone who just ain’t ready for it, and it looks like a lot of people are going to pay a terrible price for her arrogance.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Let’s be honest, the only thing anyone should be caring about is the Dr. Fate story. This issue is basically the last story by the late Steve Gerber. The next issue is the last one for the series — it’ll be interesting to see how DC will resolve the story without Gerber guiding it.

Comments off

Time and Magic


Booster Gold #7

Booster and Blue Beetle (that’s the Ted Kord version, the one who got killed before Infinite Crisis and who has now been saved thanks to Booster’s time-meddling) are on the run from hordes of OMACs who are running the world and who have killed most of the world’s superheroes. Luckily, because Max Lord used some Ted’s technology to build the OMACs, Ted has a backdoor into their systems to make them ignore him. But they’ve still got plenty of OMACs to fight their way through — and even worse, Max’s mind control still has Superman doing his dirty work for him. Let’s hope the Resistance can save Booster and Beetle in time. Meanwhile, Booster’s rotten father gets rescued from the distant past by the futuristic Blue Beetle from the last few issues, now revealed as a villain called the Black Beetle — and they’ve got some very powerful allies with evil plans in the works.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Buuuuuut not as much of a thumbs up as previously. Everything’s really just a bit too frantic this time, and though everyone wants us to think of the evil Time Stealers as a serious bunch of badasses, they really underwhelmed me a bit. But like I said, it’s still a thumbs up. It’s great to see Ted Kord in action again, and to get reminded that he was a lot more than a “Bwa-ha-ha” stooge.


Countdown to Mystery #6

I’d lost track of this one for a while and have been trying to get caught up. We’ve got two different stories right now — first, Kent Nelson is a homeless, alcoholic doctor in Las Vegas who’s become the latest possessor of the Helmet of Fate. He’s trying to get a grasp of his new powers, overcome his addictions, and keep his semi-steady job picking up trash in a motel parking lot. But when he makes an accidental side-trip to Hell, is he going to get out alive? Our second story follows the Spectre, his host, Crispus Allen, and Bruce Gordon, the former and now current host of Eclipso. Eclipso continues his schemes to corrupt superheroes — this time adding the Huntress to his current group of Plastic Man, the Creeper, and Dove.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some good, creepy stuff in here. Dr. Fate’s trip to hell and his encounters with a demonic version of the Justice Society are thoroughly nasty, and his reaction after getting out is pretty darn close to what I woulda done, too. As for the Eclipso story, it’s a bit more of a standard comic-book-villainy plot, but Huntress’ much angrier disposition after getting Eclipsed was very well done.

Comments off

Kingdom Coming Back?


Justice Society of America #10

The Justice Society is rocked by the appearance of a new, older version of Superman. He’s a dead-ringer for Power Girl’s dead cousin from Earth-2, but he is in fact from Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ very popular “Kingdom Come” comic from a decade or so ago, which Starman identifies as Earth-22. The JSA are well and truly freaked out about him and lock him in their board room, fearing he’s some sort of evil duplicate. Supes and Obsidian have a heart-to-heart, then Supes busts out to go rescue a girl trying to commit suicide.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still not sure that I like the idea of dragging “Kingdom Come” even this close to DC’s continuity, I do like Supes’ characterization a lot. It’s also nice to see Obsidian again, since he hadn’t done more than make single-panel appearances since this series re-launched. Also very awesome: Superman’s flashbacks to his home universe are lushly painted by Alex Ross himself.


Blue Beetle #20

This is a crossover with the Sinestro Corps War storyline going on over in the Green Lantern comics. One of the Sinestro Corps rings decides that Christopher Smith — thuggish biker, mentor to Jaime Reyes, and the former hero named Peacekeeper — should be the next member of the Sinestros, because he’s unknowingly carrying one of the scarabs created by the evil alien empire called the Reach. So Jaime’s stuck trying to fight off someone with all his powers plus the powers of the yellow power rings. Brik, one of the Green Lanterns, shows up to help, but they’re still getting skunked. Is there any way to beat both the scarab and the ring to save the man trapped inside?

The fact is that sales for this comic are way low — like “imminent cancellation” low. But DC knows they’ve got a great character here, and they don’t want to give up on the book — hence, you’ve got Beetle joining the Teen Titans and a crossover with DC’s very popular Sinestro Corps crossover here. Not sure this one is going to do the job — heck, we only get a brief glimpse of Jaime’s family and friends, and his supporting cast are just about the best thing about the comic. Still, “Blue Beetle” is one of DC’s very best comics, and I do hope that you — yes, you — will go pick up a few issues.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Even when it’s not at its best, this comic is very, very good.


Countdown to Mystery #2

In the feature story, the new Dr. Fate battles a demon on the mortal plane and in hell, and in his civilian guise as the homeless Kent Nelson, he gets a job picking up trash at a cheap motel. In the backup story, Darkseid tells Eclipso that it was actually created by the Lord of Apokolips, not by God, and Plastic Man goes off the deep end, attacking his son and teaming up with Woozy Winks to commit crimes.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Thumbs way, way down. The Dr. Fate story is fine, but there are no depths to my loathing of the Plastic Man story. Turning Plas into a supervillain is bad enough — and more than enough to earn the creators my undying hatred from now ’til the heat death of the universe — but revamping Woozy Winks from addled but good-natured doofus to hardened criminal? That’s the thing that really makes me mad. It’s everything that disgusts me about DC’s recent trends of embracing darkness and violence, and just disrespecting their characters and the artists who originally created them. It’s a stupid and self-destructive business strategy, as far as I’m concerned.

Comments off

Doing it Quick like a, um, Beetle

More fast reviews! ‘Cause I’m a busy man! I got work to do! Meetings to attend! Candy to eat! So onward! REVIEWS!


Blue Beetle #19

The extremely tall Giganta, one of Wonder Woman’s enemies, shows up to take down local crimelord La Dama, who’s secretly the beloved aunt of Jaime Reyes’ friend Brenda. Whoa, complication! Can Jaime save La Dama and still preserve the secret she’s been keeping from Brenda? Umm, no, he really can’t.

Verdict: Thumbs up! Good action, good jokes, decent soap opera. Paco gets the best lines, as usual. Have I told y’all to start buying this? You’ve been ignoring me, haven’t you? Don’t make me beat you!


Teen Titans #51

Oh, spit! It’s the evil Titans from the future! But I thought they stopped existing? I thought Conner Kent and Bart Allen were dead? Oh, well, they’ve stomped on the Justice League and have now sent the current Titans off against a bunch of supervillains who are being mind-controlled by Starro the Star Conqueror. Of course, the future Titans have some twisted reasons for being there, but Robin has a plan to stop them — a pretty drastic plan…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The future Titans are good, wicked fun. Hope they can maintain the fun over the next issue or two.


Countdown to Mystery #1

I’d planned to skip nearly all these Countdown tie-ins, but decided to give this one a shot because I heard it had Plastic Man in it, and Plastic Man’s my homie. So in the first part, we meet the new Dr. Fate, who, like the first Dr. Fate, is named Kent Nelson. Oooo, coincidences! He’s a down-on-his-luck bum who stumbles across Fate’s helmet in a dumpster in Vegas and then uses its power to destroy a demon. Yay for smelly homeless Dr. Fate!

In the second part, the Spectre kills a murderer, who steadfastly refuses to go to Hell, because he’s an atheist. Haw! Eat that, Mr. Wrath-of-God! Then we run into my pal Plas, who captures some muggers in Central Park, then gets accosted by Eclipso, who apparently turns him from wacky jokester to angst-ridden villain-to-be. And then there’s a flashback with Darkseid. But ya know, I wasn’t listening by that point. Because no one treats my pal Plastic Man that way. NO ONE TREATS MY PAL PLASTIC MAN THAT WAY.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story with Dr. Fate was pretty good. But you do not treat my pal Plastic Man that way.

And now, just to burn a little more space, here’s another image you will never be able to un-see.


That’s right, Superboy saves people by biting them on the butt. Comics are wholesome!

Comments off