Archive for Heralds

A Bunch of Short Reviews, Followed by a Hiatus

I got a great big stack of comics sitting on the desk, all ready to start reviewing for the week.

And I’m also getting a bit tired of blogging. The weather is nice, I’ve got a stack of interesting new games I could be playing, I’ve got a bunch of books I never have time to read, and I’ve got non-blog writing I’ve been wanting to do forever. The blog gets in the way of all of that.

So here’s what I’m gonna do — get all these comics reviewed today, then take most of the rest of the week off, except for Friday Night Fights. Maybe I can recharge my batteries, maybe I’ll get some writing done, maybe I’ll actually finish a book for once.

So here we go…

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #18

Batman teams up with the Martian Manhunter to take on Ma’Alefa’Ak, the other last survivor of Mars, and later, Dr. Fate assists when Batman is possessed by the evil Martian.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun story with a few twists and turns. Evil Batman is lotsa fun.

The Flash #3

Captain Boomerang gets magic black-lantern boomerangs, Barry Allen gets in trouble at work, and the Flash gets chased by the futuristic Rogue-inspired cops

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s just not particularly fun or exciting.

Green Lantern #55

Lobo’s in town, and that means a bunch of ring-slingers are gonna get beat up. All that, plus the origin story of adorable rage-filled Red Lantern cat Dex-Starr!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of great stuff, including Hal on a space motorcycle. And the Dex-Starr origin is worth the price of admission all on its own.

Heralds #5

Nova has kidnapped Valeria Richards, and all the heroines have to go into space to rescue her. Will Frances the diner waitress be able to assist with her mysterious connections to Nova? Or is someone gonna die?

Verdict: Thumbs down. Not enough of Tonci Zonjic’s artwork. Too much confusion in the plot. A whole lot of stuff unresolved. This series started really well — I’m disappointed it ended so poorly.

Joe the Barbarian #6

Joe makes it to Hearth Castle, a deeply friendly and comforting place, where everyone promises to make his life completely happy. But Zyxy and Smoot track him down and try to get him to return to his quest.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Two issues left ’til the end of this one. Joe has to get a soda and try to save both himself and this weird little fantasy world that may be a lot more real than we expect.

Legion of Super-Heroes #2

While the Legionaires try to clean up after the destruction of Titan, Saturn Queen takes control of Ultra Boy, Earth-Man tries, probably deceitfully, to win his new teammates’ trust, and Saturn Girl travels time to find her children.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Too much stuff happening! Come on, it’s just the second issue — shouldn’t there be a little lead-up before we get this many subplots going on at once?

Madame Xanadu #24

Rosalyn is trying to live a normal life, but she’s begun to see visions of normal people with horrific injuries — visions that no one else can see. Can Madame Xanadu help cure her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice work, great setting details for 1963. Rosalyn is a very appealing character. The art by Marley Zarcone is different than normal for this book, but it works very well.

Supergirl #53

The War of the Supermen is over, and New Krypton is destroyed, and now Supergirl doesn’t much wanna be Supergirl anymore. But a new Bizarro Supergirl may soon force that issue.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice characterization, nice dialogue, cool art. Supergirl’s desire to get out of the spandex-wearing career is written really well.

Aaaaand that’s that. See y’all Friday evening.

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Watching the Detectives

Detective Comics #866

A done-in-one story mixing Dick Grayson’s past and present. While Dick, as the current Batman, tangles with some thugs and finds an old lost medallion in a deserted mansion, he remembers his first adventure as Robin, how he came across the medallion for the first time, and how he first faced the Joker. He also meets up with an ex-con who took the rap for stealing the medallion all those years ago, now on his deathbed. Will Batman be able to tie up all these loose ends? Or is there one more mystery he’s overlooking?

Verdict: Thumbs up. When almost every comic is full of long-running storyarcs, it’s cool to see a nice, simple story, told completely in just one issue. I really dug the art style in the flashback part of the tale, with the bright colors, animation-style cartooning, and weathered appearance of the pages. Denny O’Neil has his good comics and his not-so-good comics, and this looks like one of the good ones.

Heralds #4

Reed Richards manages to prevent an artificial black hole from destroying Nova — and New York City along with her. Nova flees, but Reed is sure she’ll be back for Frances, the diner waitress who seems to have a connection to her. She says she once met the Silver Surfer, who made some sort of alteration to her mind and personality. Hoping to jog her memory, Sue Richards takes Frances, Emma Frost, She-Hulk, Hellcat, Valkyrie, Monica Rambeau, and Valeria Richards to see an old friend of Frankie Raye, Nova’s original identity. Frances can’t stand hanging out with any of them and goes out with Hellcat and Valeria to get ice cream. That’s when Nova shows up and kidnaps Valeria.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Part of the problem here is that I feel like I’m not getting the full story. I suspect part of the backstory here was told in Marvel’s cosmic-oriented comics, and we aren’t being told everything we need to know. On top of that, there are now three different credited artists — the very good Tonci Zonjic and the not-nearly-as-good-especially-in-comparison Emma Rios and James Harren. And there’s a whole page in the middle of the comic devoted to a conversation between two bystanders who have nothing to do with the story. The plotline needs to be tightened up a lot before the final issue of the series hits later this week…

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Light my Fire

Heralds #3

This weekly series continues with Johnny Storm apparently living in a suburban home in the desert with the spirit of Frankie Raye, former fire-slinging herald of Galactus. It’s an illusion, obviously, giving them both the opportunity to throw hot irons around, kick over burning barbecue grills, and set swimming pools on fire. Meanwhile, the rest of the Fantastic Four have found Johnny locked up inside a forcescreen chamber while he lets off a lot of fire and heat. And Hellcat, Monica Rambeau, She-Hulk, Valkyrie, and Emma Frost have brought mysterious injured waitress Frances to the Baxter Building to take advantage of Reed Richards’ high-tech healing equipment. After the heroines argue about whether or not Frances is dangerous, Reed figures out how to release Frankie Raye from Johnny’s body, and she makes a beeline for Frances. And that’s when Agent Brand shows up with a black hole gun…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice writing, good dialogue, weird science, interesting mysteries. My biggest complaint is that Tonci Zonjic‘s excellent artwork is only on the first eight pages, then the rest is all by James Harren, who does not come off well in the comparison.

Crossed: Family Values #2

There we go, people — that’s the worst cover you’re going to see all year. That is not the way you do a wraparound cover — all the other “Crossed” covers have been wraparounds, but they didn’t leave the front cover with such an awkward and unbalanced look to it. I don’t care how nice the cover looks when you lay it out flat — if it looks stupid when it’s closed and on display in your comic shop, you run the risk of potential purchasers passing it by.

As for the story, the Pratt family — a very large, very religious survivalist family — have escaped from the Crossed and established a new, more isolated, more defensible compound. Addy is helping scout the Crossed, to discover their numbers and their movements, while her father expands the compound with new recruits and survivors. They’ve even captured one of the Crossed, reduced to no more than a torso and a head, to try to learn more about their opponents. Addy has allowed herself to forget, however, that her father is an abusive pedophile with a fondness for his own daughters — and by the time she realizes that he’s up to his old tricks, her family is set up to take another severe hit.

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. It’s written well. It’s written shockingly — and that’s one of the important things for this story. But I think they’ve got too much shock and not enough horror. ‘Cause I was decently shocked by what was happening, but at no point was I scared.

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Herald Angels

Heralds #1

I originally missed this one, until I heard several different recommendations and figured I’d better check it out. It’s a five-issue miniseries, with a new issue coming out every week. There are a couple of different focuses — one is Frances, a young woman working the night shift at a small roadside diner. The other focus starts out on Scott Summers and Emma Frost — it’s Emma’s birthday, and Scott has actually managed to get her a surprise birthday party in Las Vegas. The big winning image of the comic is the party guests — She-Hulk, Valkyrie, Hellcat, and Monica Rambeau — all wearing fake cowboy mustaches. S.W.O.R.D. agent Abigail Brand is there, too, but she skips the mustache. And when there’s suddenly some sort of energy surge from outer space, there’s a mass escape of cloned dinosaurs and scientists at a S.W.O.R.D. facility, and both Emma and Frances have some sort of psychic freak-out. Emma just wrecks a hotel suite, but Frances injures a coworker at the diner and stabs a customer in the stomach. While the heroes bust up the clones, Frances meets someone she thinks is her father — and then explodes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. If you loved Tonci Zonjic’s art in “Marvel Divas” — well, you’re also going to love his work here. Wonderful character work with Frances and the other folks in the diner. Lots of funny stuff from our superheroes, too — not just the mustaches, which are plenty fun. But also Hellcat’s love for beating up cloned Einsteins and Oppenheimers, and the great dialogue between Emma and Cyclops. Not real sure I like She-Hulk with short hair, though…

Heralds #2

After the heroes get the clones subdued, S.W.O.R.D. concocts a cover story that it was all a publicity stunt by… Cirque du Soleil? Okay, whatever gets the heat off. Monica remembers zapping a clone of Phineas T. Horton, the creator of the Golden Age Human Torch — and the news reports that someone matching Horton’s description was found dead in the desert. Oh, yeah, and that guy was also the one who Frances thought was her father at the end of the last issue. Where’s Frances? Crashing into the desert from a few hundred feet up — and surviving just fine. The heroines break into the morgue to get some more information about the dead Phineas T. Horton, then take a trip into the desert so Emma can psionically track the explosion — and Frances, who is a dead ringer for Frankie Raye, one of Galactus’s old heralds. And meanwhile, in New York City, someone who looks a lot like Frankie Ray pays a visit to Johnny Storm.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I will say that the art suffers in this issue — while Zonjic does a lot of the art, James Harren does about half the issue, and his work isn’t nearly as good as Zonjic’s. The writing by Kathryn Immonen remains wonderful, however — lots of mysteries, lots of funny stuff, lots of great personality work.

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