Archive for Hercules

Clash of Worlds!

PS238 #46

Evil genius Victor von Fogg has gotten his hands on a machine that briefly gives him limitless power and omnipotence — and every time he uses the machine, he ends up using it for frivolous or benevolent purposes instead of enslaving the universe, like he’d normally prefer. And he has to keep trying to use the machine over and over to work the bugs out — and it takes a lot of power to operate. How much power? He has to drain all the energy from an alternate universe just to turn it on. And when Zodon finds out which alternate universe von Fogg is about to drain, he decides that he has to stop him. So why does an evil genius care about saving another universe from another evil genius? We don’t know, but he assembles a strikeforce of his fellow classmates to travel to another dimension to stop von Fogg.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Obviously, we’re at the beginning of a new storyarc, with Zodon leading his motley band of pint-sized heroes on an interdimensional rescue mission, with Victor and his sister Alexandria in hot pursuit. So for now, we’re just setting up the players. If you haven’t read this title before, it makes this issue a very good jumping-on point.

Hercules: Twilight of a God #4

While Hercules’ grandchildren discover that the villain behind all the recent disasters is actually their own entirely amoral grandmother, Hercules is awakened from his coma, because he’s the only person strong enough to deliver the White Hole Engine into the Galactus-powered black hole. He says his farewells to his son, the emperor, to his surviving grandkids, to his friends, the Recorder and Skyppi, an elderly Skrull preparing to die. But when Hercules and Galactus clash, will either of them emerge? Or are they both doomed?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice story, a lot more emotional than I was expecting, with a lot of personality and humor coming along for the ride.

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Gods and Monsters

Hercules: Twilight of a God #3

Herc’s Skrull friend Skyppi is old and dying, trying to plan out his post-death existence as some random inanimate object. Hercules is brought into the hospital, comatose after his battle against the new Silver Surfer, and a convention of alien diplomats converges on Wilamean to negotiate on whether or not they’ll help evacuate the planet before a Galactus-powered black hole destroys everything. But a terrorist attack destroys all the diplomatic ships, leaving all those aliens stranded on a world that’s going to be destroyed in one month. As diplomats and citizens alike begin to panic, Hercules makes his triumphant reappearance to calm everyone’s fears — but actually, it’s a shapeshifted Skyppi working to give everyone more time to figure out a plan. And when they finally figure out how to stop the black hole, it turns out to be something that only the real Hercules can accomplish…

Verdict: Thumbs up. This story is actually a great deal sillier than the previous issues have been, with cracks about Superman, rednecks, brawling TV pundits, Hercules’ fake Shakespearean dialogue, and more. This actually works out a lot better than I was expecting. Characterization and dialogue are probably the best things in this issue, along with the art by Ron Lim.

JSA All-Stars #9

While most of the team is fighting monsters in the Central American country of Parador, they discover an old friend/foe, Brainwave, who has been roped in by the government to mentally sedate a group of mutant children who can channel the power of Parador’s gods. And the backup story featuring Hourman and Liberty Belle finally, after months of convoluted buildup, gets interesting as we learn why Tigress and Icicle want the magical doohickey everyone’s chasing after.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I wasn’t much expecting to enjoy this one, but it ended up being a good story — nothing spectacular, but a solid piece of storytelling. I’ve mostly skipped over the backup story in the past, but the fact that we’ve finally gotten a credible motive for Icicle and Tigress does a lot to make it more readable. They should’ve done this in the first chapter or two instead of the ones nearing the end.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • A fake trailer for an Avengers movie — from the 1950s!
  • A little bitty cannon that makes a great big BOOM!
  • Scorpion performs his own theme from “Mortal Kombat” on an accordion. This is why the Internet is so wonderful.
  • I’m not sure Mike Sterling‘s new blog is actually something we really need to see more of. Isn’t it depressing enough that these people exist without calling more attention to them?

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Power and Thunder

Thor and the Warriors Four #4

Loki and the Enchantress are triumphant — their spell has turned Thor and the other Asgardians into babies, and they’ve obtained the Golden Apples of Idunn, ensuring themselves immortality — and without the Golden Apples, everyone else in Asgard is now rapidly aging to their true ages of several thousand years old. The kids in Power Pack seem largely helpless to stop them, aside from talking a little smack. And even worse, the whole thing appears to have kicked off Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods and the end of the world. Jormungand, the immense World Serpent, appears to fight Thor. Alex Power is able to call on the help of Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, but they can’t do much against a giant dragon fated to strangle the world. Will Thor have to sacrifice himself to save everyone? Or is someone else worthy to assist?

Verdict: Thumbs up times a billion. This was the best comic I got last week. Absolutely HUGE props to writer Alex Zalben and artists Gurihiru for this one — I haven’t had this much fun reading a comic book in ages. I’m trying to limit the spoilers, but there was a ton of funny stuff in here, and a ton-and-a-half of awesome stuff going on in here. There were about a dozen panels in this comic that could be entered in a Most Awesome Comics Panel of the Year contest, but I can’t show most of them to you, because they’d be spoilers, and this story is just too cool to spoil. I can, however, show you this:

Beta Ray Bill with an afro? I would watch a TV show based on that alone.

Oh, heck, we didn’t even talk about Colleen Coover‘s backup feature, with Hercules babysitting the Power siblings and telling them stories about his Twelve Labors. There’s not a lot of real plot going on here — it’s really just Herc telling stories and philosophizin’ about mythology and science — but it’s still a whole boatload of awesome. Coover’s characterization of Hercules is just perfect, and the final panel of this one should definitely be entered into that Most Awesome Comics Panel of the Year contest, too.

Tails of the Pet Avengers: The Dogs of Summer #1

This is really just a showcase of Chris Eliopoulos‘s very cute Franklin Richards stories, with a few guest appearances from the Pet Avengers. In the first one, Franklin accidentally creates a giant garbage monster and must defeat it with the assistance of the Pet Avengers. Later, Franklin has to dogsit Lockjaw for the Inhumans, and he gets his first dog, Lockjaw’s grandson, courtesy of his future self. And there’s a story illustrated by Ig Guara that features Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Fin Fang Foom and sets up this fall’s “Avengers vs. the Pet Avengers” series.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mostly reprints, but they’re fun reprints.

Hercules: Twilight of a God #2

In the distant future, Hercules is the hero of the Andromeda Galaxy, and his kids and grandkids are the rulers of the planet Wilamean. But Hercules is being attacked by a new Silver Surfer, and a black hole threatens to swallow the entire galaxy. Can Hercules survive the battle? Can anyone?

Verdict: Ehh, thumbs down. I liked it on my first read-through, but the non-stop slugfest just didn’t do very well on repeated readings.

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Adventures in Babysitting

Thor and the Warriors Four #3

Power Pack has journeyed to Asgard in an attempt to cure their dying grandmother, but have accidentally been used as pawns by Loki and the Enchantress. As a result, all of the Asgardians have been turned into babies. It’s insanely chaotic (but also insanely funny), and things aren’t made any better, when Loki returns in his old-man disguise and tricks the kids into going on a quest for the Golden Apples of Idunn. Alex doesn’t trust the situation and stays behind, but the other three kids (along with Baby Thor and Baby Beta Ray Bill) set off to try to defeat the challenges on the way to the apples — the Door of the Aesir, the Path of the Vanir, and the terrible Ratatosk, Squirrel of Mischief! Can the kids get past all three challenges? And if they succeed, what does Loki have in mind for them?

And in the backup story by Colleen Coover, Hercules and Power Pack clean up the kids’ home while Herc tells them stories about his Twelve Labors — and perhaps most awesomely, joins Katie for a tea party. What, you don’t think the Lion of Olympus sometimes craves a little pretend tea?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Absolutely fantastically cute. Probably worth buying solely for the brief cameo of Baby Hogun the Grim, Baby Thor saying “I can get dressed! I’m a big boy!” and Hercules’ tea party.

Hercules: Twilight of a God #1

Wait, isn’t Hercules dead? Well, this story is set in the distant future, after he’s presumably been resurrected. Heck, it doesn’t even take place on Earth — everything happens on the planet Wilamean in the Andromeda Galaxy. Due to an accident in which Herc was trying to save a city from a missile, got his tunic caught on the missile, and ended up getting bashed into a few buildings at several hundred miles an hour, he now has to take medication to keep from being addled, and he can’t drink without cancelling out the medication — and he runs the risk of being killed by any serious head injury. Herc’s best friends are a robot and an elderly but mischievous Skrull, and his children and grandchildren rule the city of Port Anteris, but Prime Minister Spincor hates them all and plots to get rid of them by publicly embarrassing them all during a festival honoring Hercules. Is there any way to save Hercules’ reputation?

Verdict: Thumbs up, I think. A story about Greek demigods set in the far future in another galaxy is a bit unexpected, but the story seems fine. My biggest complaint is that Herc is generally depicted as not much more than a buffoon — though he’s a buffoon with a long and respected history, even here, as a leader and hero.

Secret Avengers #1

Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, has decided to put together a covert team of Avengers to take care of shadow-ops missions that are out of the public eye. He recruits Valkyrie, Black Widow, Beast, Moon Knight, War Machine, Nova, and Ant-Man, and they embark on an extended mission to track down the Serpent Crown. But it’s not the usual Serpent Crown, and that leads to the suggestion that there may be more than one of them out there. They come into conflict with the always-villainous Roxxon Oil Company and another organization dedicated to finding the Crown for themselves.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A lot of our time is taken up with introducing our lead characters and recounting how Steve recruited them, but we get a good amount of plot and action besides, and I’m gonna declare that a very good thing.

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A Farewell to Hercules

Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #2

Hercules is dead, as are Zeus and Hera, so Athena declares herself the new queen of the Olympian gods, and she wants Amadeus Cho to be her mortal champion on Earth. Not everyone is happy with that — most of all Amadeus, who doesn’t trust Athena a bit. Her fellow gods also have some objections — Apollo steps forward to challenge her, and the gods start picking the mortal proxies who will fight for them. Athena picks Amadeus, Apollo chooses the late Ares’ son, who is now Phobos, the demigod of fear, Poseidon chooses Namor, Artemis chooses Skaar, Nyx, the goddess of night chooses Nightmare, and Hebe picks the temporarily Hulk-less Bruce Banner. Three powerhouses vs. one powerhouse and a couple of smart guys? This is gonna be a pretty one-sided fight, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, in the backup “Agents of Atlas” story, Venus and Namora are settling Hercules’ estate. They visit an island orphanage only to meet up with a horrific, multi-headed, tentacled dragon. But they soon learn that the dragon is actually a little girl with a bunch of dragon-headed limbs, and that the whole island is a refuge Hercules set up for young, orphaned monsters, both growing children and a number of terminally-ill kids. With orders from the Olympus Group to shut down Hercules’ holdings, can Namora and Venus find a way to make everyone happy?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The first story was just fine — lots of exciting and clever action. But the real winner here is the backup story. It’s a very sweet, sad, genuinely touching story. And it’s cuter’n heck, too — I thought the giant spider pulling the little centaur girl in her little red wagon was really adorable, though I’ve got a bit of a twisted sense of cute. Still, it’s definitely worth picking up.

Joe the Barbarian #4

Joe’s slowly going into diabetic shock and hallucinating a whole fantasy world based on his own home — or is he? He’s traveling with Jack, a humanoid rat, and Smoot, the world’s tallest dwarf, when they meet up with a city full of technological magicians. The magicians have a bunch of weapons that could be used to fight King Death and the Deathcoats, but they’ve actually taken sacred vows of cowardice. They offer the travelers guidance for the journey ahead, but King Death’s armies soon attack. A lone apprentice magician, Zyxy, offers her aid and the use of her flying machine to help them all escape — but are they really escaping? Or just plummeting?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Exciting stuff going on here — and it’s pretty funny, too. The magicians’ idea of magic runs toward inventing cigarette lighters and batteries, which they treat as superstitiously as they can. Zyxy looks like she’ll be a fun hero, as well, and a great addition to Joe’s motley band.

The Brave and the Bold #33

I decided to give this one another shot. And I’m gonna spoil the whole story for you, so if you don’t like that, ya better start runnin’ now.

You’ll notice the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl walking around on the cover — this is a story set some time in the past. Zatanna wakes up in the night after experiencing a prophetic vision. She calls Wonder Woman, and they both seek out Batgirl to convince her… to go dancing with them? All three have a long night visiting as many clubs as they can, then Wonder Woman starts dropping hints about… Oracles. She talks about the mythological oracles who could see the future, but who could do nothing to prevent bad futures without making things even worse. And we finally get the big twist — Zatanna is an oracle who just foresaw that Barbara was about to be shot and paralyzed by the Joker, and the entire outing was to give her one more night of dancing and having fun.

Verdict: Well, now, let’s talk about this one a little. On the one hand, we’ve got Cliff Chiang and his always outstanding, gorgeous artwork. We’ve got some nice interplay between the trio of heroines during their pub crawl. We’ve got some nice bits of humor here and there. Those are on the plus side. Unfortunately, the negatives are all on the other side.

The story from Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” has been told and retold multiple times, but J. Michael Straczynski turns in the only one I’ve ever seen that really gets right down in the muck and wallows in Barbara’s fast-approaching shooting. Reading this just makes you feel dirty, like you’re sharing headspace with JMS’s faintly sadistic pleasures.

And there’s also the bizarre anachronisms of the story. The events from “The Killing Joke” took place quite a few years ago, as the DC Universe reckons — but this story features a prominent iPhone joke and a scene where the three heroines go to a karaoke bar and sing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” This comes across as just ridiculously inept, and it serves to rip you right out of the flow of the story.

So yeah, a thumbs down. The only thing that keeps it from being multiple thumbs down is the sheer awesomeness of Chiang’s artwork.

Straczynski is about to take over “Wonder Woman” in a few months. Judging by how awful his run on “The Brave and the Bold” has been, I can’t be the only person who’s dreading how this is going to turn out, right?

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The Fallen Warrior

Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #1

Well, Hercules is dead, blown up through the treachery of Athena. Amadeus Cho oversees a gathering of gods and superheroes who pay tribute to the “Lion of Olympus” — Thor, the Warriors Three, Namor, Namora, Bruce Banner, Wolverine, Angel, and numerous others. Thor recalls an epic but offbeat contest that pitted Thor and Herc against a bunch of giants; Namor remembers Hercules attacking him solely to rouse him from one of his marathon moping sessions; And Namora, Snowbird, Black Widow, and Alfyse, Queen of the Dark Elves, tell about some of Herc’s more… adult talents, leading to a few funny moments — first, when Snowbird asks if any other of the gathered heroes want to share memories of Hercules the Love Machine:

And that’s Northstar, Marvel’s most prominent homosexual character, heading for the exit. Those ancient Greeks sure were somethin’ else, weren’t they?

And then there’s this:

I laughed for a good five minutes at Namor’s expression.

There’s also an “Agents of Atlas” backup story where Venus and Namora help wrap up some of Hercules’ earthly affairs.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some funny stuff, some touching stuff, and some good character work, too. Some of the artwork is a bit odd, but not enough to seriously detract from the story.

Joe the Barbarian #3

Joe is a kid with diabetes who needs to get something to eat before he dies. He’s currently undergoing a golly-gee-whilikers of a hallucination — he’s stuck in a fantasy land based on his house, with his pet rat Jack transformed into a reluctant bodyguard, the bathroom sink into an ocean, and the staircase into a terrible cliff. But is he really hallucinating, or is it all somehow real? This issue, Joe and Jack take up with a bunch of submarine-piloting pirates, and Joe learns that he is the focus of a thousand-year-old prophecy that says he’s the only person who can stop something called “King Death,” and everyone calls him the Dying Boy — not real encouraging when you’re hallucinating from diabetic shock. They acquire a new traveling partner — Smoot, the freakishly large (for a race of dwarven pirates) and extremely clumsy son of the Pirate King. Can they all make it to the Forest City of Yalway and from there, to Hearth Castle?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still great fun, still beautifully written and illustrated, and still deepening a really interesting mystery. This has become a title where I eagerly anticipate every single issue.

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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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Going Green

Astro City: The Dark Age, Book Four #1

It’s 1984, and Charles and Royal Williams are still after Aubrey Jason, the man who killed their parents decades ago. They’ve given up their former lives and turned themselves into semi-paramilitary vigilantes, scavenging equipment, weapons, transportation, and even a base from former villains. But while the ’80s may look sunny and upbeat, times have actually gotten a lot darker, with more heroes willing to kill randomly, more monsters raging on the streets, more murderous gangs — is it all being caused by something evil hidden away from sight? Charles and Royal meet up briefly with the Green Man, a plant elemental, Gloo, a sadistic blob, and Nostradamien, a criminal who can only see awful futures. The brothers pursue Jason to Las Vegas, but he knows they’re after him, and he’ll do anything to get them off his trail.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I really enjoy the Williams brothers — they make excellent protagonists, and their continuing evolution is fun to watch. The background is also pretty interesting, and as always, some of the background characters are people I wish we could learn more about, particularly the Green Man.


Chew #8

Tony Chu, a government agent who get psychic impressions from anything he eats, is visiting a tropical island called Yamapula on the trail of a mysterious plant that tastes like chicken. Why is that important? Because chicken has been outlawed in much of the world after a bad outbreak of bird flu. Tony is briefly tossed in the local clink because he was seen associating with a secret agent who was later found murdered. After beating on a couple of abusive inmates, Tony gets a taste of their blood, learns that they’re murderers, and leads the local police chief to the dead body and then on to where the criminal cartel has stashed the illegal chicken. Well, actually, it’s not really a bunch of chicken that you’d cook and eat — it’s a rooster. A rooster in a luchadore mask.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More bizarre, morbid, violent fun. Lots and lots of plot twists, most of them more bizarre than any of the previous ones, and more intrigue than you’d expect from a comic featuring a part-time cannibal, fighting roosters, and prison swirlies.

The Incredible Hercules #140

Hercules, Amadeus Cho, and the Avengers are still in the lobby of the Olympus Group, trying to stop Hera’s mad scheme to rewrite the universe. Athena has been turned to stone by Delphyne Gorgon, who delivers the statue to Hephaestus, craftsman of the gods, who intends to create a golden automata of the Goddess of Wisdom. Herc and Amadeus fight a robotic dragon, but are soon captured by Hephaestus, who pits them against each other in a test of heroism and friendship. But can any of them stop the secret betrayer who is working against all of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action, great humor, and some very clever problem-solving. As always, you should take the time to read all of Greg Pak’s sound effects, because they’re very funny. The backup story with the Agents of Atlas is okay, but mostly forgettable.

Blackest Night: The Flash #2

Barry Allen is just getting his legs as a new Blue Lantern, trying to take on zombified versions of Kid Flash, Firestorm, the Reverse-Flash, and Solovar. Meanwhile, the Rogues have invaded Iron Heights Prison and must fight off the Black Lantern zombies of former Rogues, including the first Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, the Top, Golden Glider, the Trickster, and the Rainbow Raider.

Verdict: Ehh, not bad at all. I love seeing Scott Kolins do art for Flash comics, and I’m enjoying Barry’s reactions to joining up with the Blue Lantern Corps.

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Dogs and Monsters


Beasts of Burden #4

The ghost-hunting dogs and cats of Burden Hill have another mystery on their paws — a local dog has turned up with his face scared white and attached to a leash tied to his master’s arm — that’s all, just the arm. When he finally gets his wits back, he tells ’em that his owner, the caretaker at a cemetery, was pulled into an open grave, and everything but the arm got chewed up. When they investigate, they find a bunch of monsters made of grave earth and skull heads performing a resurrection ritual. The resurrectee? Some hooch-loving satanist who can understand animal talk and cast a bunch of nasty spells. They manage to bite him back to death, but the grave monsters raise him back up again, this time encasing him in a suit of armor made of their own bodies! Their only chance lies with Dymphna, the witch cat, who most of them don’t trust at all…

Verdict: Thumbs up. More great writing from Evan Dorkin and great art from Jill Thompson. When I first heard about this, I really wasn’t sure what to make of it — a horror series starring a bunch of ghostbusting housepets? But I’m glad I got to read it, ’cause it’s been a ton of fun. This is the last issue of this particular miniseries, but I think we’ll be seeing more issues of this in the future.


The Incredible Hercules #139

A bunch of superheroes, including Hercules and Amadeus Cho, are battling a bunch of Greek gods, titans, and monsters to stop Hera’s plan to use something called Continuum to destroy the world. For the most part, the Avengers are proving to be easy pickings for the gods, even for the heroes who are ultimately based on godly archetypes. (Zeus and Quicksilver, on the other hand, get along great.) Delphyne Gorgon, the queen of the Amazons, has her heart set on killing Athena, and she may be able to pull it off. And who is Thanatos, the god of death, waiting around for? In our backup story, the Agents of Atlas are attempting an underground raid on Hera’s skyscraper and end up tangling with the Cyclops, a chimera, and a bunch of animated skeletons.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Everything’s pretty chaotic, but there’s some really great characterization going on here, along with a lot of excellent dialogue and intrigue. And, of course, some of Greg Pak’s wonderful sound effects, like “TITANOSMAK,” “FRIKASEEEEEEE,” and “WYPOWT!”


Crossed #8

Last issue, the Crossed got hold of Cindy’s young son Patrick and turned him into one of them — a psychotic, violence-loving murder addict. In the aftermath of having to kill her only child, she’s mostly withdrawn from the group, willing to necessary security but not much else. In the leadership void, Brett starts asserting his inner aggressive scumbag, leading to yet another shocking act of violence. And the question remains — how to get Cindy back to her old self and keep her from losing herself to despair and self-loathing?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Crossed don’t appear in this issue at all, but there is still some significantly disturbing and out-of-the-blue stuff, as well as some more insight about how the world slid into hell after the Crossed infection appeared. As always, good storytelling from Garth Ennis and beautiful art by Jacen Burrows.


Wonder Woman #39

Turns out all the suddenly pregnant Amazons are actually the victims of a dire plot by Ares, and everyone else is distracted by Alkyone’s attack on Wonder Woman and the other Amazons. While Wonder Woman battles the Cottus, an ancient, many-armed monster that claims to have crafted the clay that was used to create Wondy, the rest of the Amazons, along with Achilles and his followers, do what they can to stop Alkyone and her guards.

Verdict: I’ll give it a thumbs up, because there were some very cool moments, including Artemis leading Themyscira’s defenders past Alkyone to assist Wondy, the giant shark bringing Wonder Woman her lasso, and Zeus’ memories of being tortured by Desaad on Apokolips. But I’m still very, very, very tired of the focus on mythology and gods and suchlike in this comic. How ’bout some superheroics once in a while, ya know?

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Death Race 2009


Blackest Night: The Flash #1

The ever-expanding “Blackest Night” crossover moves into a three-issue miniseries starring Barry Allen, the Silver-Age Flash. He’s warning as many heroes as he can about the dangers of the Black Lanterns and how they can be stopped — he’s even making sure some of his enemies know — namely, the mostly honorable Rogues, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, the new Trickster. And it looks like all of them will have to pitch in — many of the zombified Black Lanterns are former Rogues who are probably going to be going after their former friends. While Tar Pit and the new Captain Boomerang wait for the arrival of the original deceased Captain Boomerang (the old one was the new one’s father), Barry tangles briefly with the zombified Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, then heads to Gorilla City to get advice from his old friend Solovar, the ruler of Gorilla City. Unfortunately, Barry doesn’t know that Solovar died years ago, and Barry has to fight an undead psychic gorilla who keeps trying to convince him that he’s not all bad. Meanwhile, the Rogues are preparing to take the fight directly to their Black Lantern counterparts with a raid on their new hideout in Iron Heights Prison.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A big part of the reason I enjoyed this is the artwork — Scott Kolins was one of my favorite artists during the Wally West glory days of “The Flash, with a gritty style that perfectly suited the more blue-collar vision of Flash, the Rogues, and Central/Keystone City of the early 2000s. To be honest, I’m looking forward to this miniseries more for the Rogues than for Barry — Wally West was the Flash I knew and cared about, but the Rogues are classics, and anything that shines a good bright spotlight on them is great with me.


Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1

And another new “Blackest Night” crossover, as Wonder Woman goes to Washington, DC, to confront Black Lantern Maxwell Lord, the former ally turned enemy who Wondy killed a few years back. She finds him in Arlington National Cemetery, where he’s using his psychic powers to hold hostage the guards of the Tomb of the Unknowns. She isn’t having much difficulty with Max until his reinforcements arrive — enough Black Lantern rings to zombify everyone buried in the cemetery, including a few members of the WWII Blackhawk Squadron and DC’s original Unknown Soldier. How does she deal with several thousand zombies? She makes her magic lasso emit pure, blinding light and incinerates all of them.

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. I absolutely love Nicola Scott’s always outstanding artwork, but I got some serious squick going on with the idea of desecrating every body in Arlington National Cemetery and cremating them all down into random piles of ash. No, not even if it’s just fictional. “Hey, families of American soldiers! Wonder Woman just torched your grampa’s dead body! Wheee!” I know, I know, probably getting carried away, but that was my reaction when I first read it, and I don’t feel a lot better about it yet.


The Incredible Hercules #138

Hercules, Amadeus Cho, a few renegade Greek gods, and the Avengers need to storm a skyscraper housing the Olympus Group, where the rest of the Greek gods are holed up while Hera prepares to unleash her “Continuum” plan that will eliminate human life from Earth. With so many gods watching over the building, a frontal assault can’t succeed, but a little cleverness and misdirection gets everyone in the front door and ready to fight. But can anyone survive when the God of Death makes his appearance? And in a backup story starring the Agents of Atlas, Venus is freed from her hypnotic spell, depriving the monster Phorcys of the legions of mortals he was about to eat. He retreats to the sea, and the Agents prepare to make their own assault on the Olympus Group.

Verdict: Thumbs up. What I’m enjoying the most about this story is the characterization. Hercules, Amadeus, Zeus, Hebe, and Spider-Man are all excellently represented here, but the real standout star as a character is, of all people, USAgent, who comes across as a cross between a monotheist and an atheist by insisting that Hercules, Zeus, and the rest are merely garden-variety metahumans who’ve convinced themselves that they’re actual gods — and he’s actually allowed to make a good case of it, too. Definitely not the standard treatment for comic-book skeptics, who are usually not much more than comic relief.

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