Archive for Justice League International

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Worlds’ Finest #2

Most of this issue is a slugfest — Power Girl and the Huntress vs. a radioactive monster called Hakkou. In fact, Hakkou makes short work of both of the heroines almost every time they meet, and it seems that he has some kind of connection to their old home on Earth-2. Speaking of Earth-2, we also get plenty of flashbacks to Karen and Helena’s early days after escaping from that alternate Earth, as they get adjusted to their new home and try to figure out how to get back to where they came from. But do they ever stand a chance of leaving Earth-1 behind, or will Hakkou finish what Darkseid’s armies started?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not great comics, but it’s pretty good comics. The art by both George Perez and Kevin Maguire is lots of fun, the battles are nice and actiony, and the flashbacks are enjoyable. Of course, Power Girl’s costume is still just atrociously bad. I feel sorry for whoever designed it. Or whoever eventually gets blamed for it.

Justice League International #10

What a mishmash. The JLI — down Rocket Red, Ice, Fire, and Vixen, but having recently added Batwing and OMAC — tries to track down the terrorists who’ve been behind a lot of the hits they’ve been taking. They knock out some of the bad guys, but they still get stomped after one of the villains manages to take control of Booster Gold’s and Guy Gardner’s weaponry.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This one is just getting irritating. It was never a really strong comic, but one of the things that I thought made it so interesting was the unusually large number of women who were team members. By now, three of the four of them have been fridged, and they look like they’ll stay fridged ’til this comic gets cancelled. But I don’t think I’ll stick around to see — this title has stopped being even vaguely interesting to me.

iZombie #26

Gwen has been convinced by Amon that she needs to help kill everyone in Eugene, Oregon in order to save everyone on Earth from the coming of the elder god Xitalu. She’s trying to give Ellie and Scott a chance to make their escape, but she can’t locate them anywhere. Ellie and Frankenteen get cornered by the vampire paintball girls, the Dead Presidents and the Fossors battle mind-bending horrors together, Scott’s grandfather gets unmasked as a chimpanzee, leading Scott to turn into a were-terrier in front of everyone. And just as the end shows up over the horizon, Gwen finally locates her long-lost brother.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Is it okay to call this “soap opera on an apocalyptic scale”? Whatever it is, it works great. Common drama really gets cranked sky-high once the end of the world is coming.

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Undressed for Success

Daredevil #12

Matt Murdock is on a date with Assistant District Attorney Kirsten McDuffie, a woman who would really like to prove once and for all that Matt is Daredevil. They visit a local amusement park, and Kirsten has Matt blindfold her so she can see what it’s like to be blind. Matt tells Kirsten about his days rooming with Foggy Nelson in college — and how they had to deal with their tyrannical professor. But Matt’s date may be ruined by Daredevil’s crusade against Megacrime.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The best thing about this is the look back at Matt and Foggy’s younger days, with a little legal badassery in defense of each other. It’s a nice break from the ongoing Megacrime saga.

Justice League International #9

OMAC has zoomed up out of nowhere and is beating the stuffing out of the JLI. They finally get him to make sense after they knock a hole in the street and drop him underground — apparently, this cuts him off from mind-control rays the bad guys were beaming at him. And then there’s an attack at the Eiffel Tower that the team needs to thwart, too.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This one’s starting to get a bit ridiculous. The dialogue isn’t improving, and nearly all the female characters have been fridged into the hospital so we’re not even seeing them anymore. This isn’t anywhere near the worst stuff DC is publishing, but it could be so much better, and that’s why it’s so frustrating to read.

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Devil’s Advocate

Daredevil 10.1

Matt Murdock gets called in to consult with a prisoner who he’s been hired to represent — a pyrokinetic supervillain who, coincidentally, got arrested for trying to kill Murdock — and got brought in after getting stomped by Daredevil. Matt’s been called in because the pyro claims he’s undergoing cruel and unusual punishment — the prison is hitting him loud noise and constant heating changes that make it impossible for him to sleep, even if they do break up his concentration so he can’t use his powers. But the bad guy is still under contract to bring capture Murdock and bring him to the Hellfire Club. Can Matt get out of this situation? And why does the Hellfire Club care about him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Another truly outstanding Daredevil story, with lots of action, humor, and brains. If I’ve got a complaint, it’s that the art on this comic isn’t up to the extremely high standards of previous issues of this title.

The Amazing Spider-Man #683

The world’s leaders and top scientists are trying to figure out if they can take Dr. Octopus’ ultimatum seriously — he wants to be acknowledged as the world’s savior or he’ll burn the planet to a cinder by accelerating global warming. The Avengers soon appear, and Spider-Man makes a scene by punching Al Gore’s lights out. Now don’t get all excited, Republicans — it was really the Chameleon in disguise. Doc Ock starts to activate his satellite network, and Iron Man tries to track the signal, but to no avail. And Mayor Jameson shuts down the power for Horizon Labs while they’re trying to assist. But Octavius temporarily reverses the effects of his rays, and the world’s leaders insist the heroes let the Chameleon go. Spidey has this all planned out, and the Avengers track Cham’s escape vehicle, which leads to a confrontation with the rest of the Sinister Six. Spidey’s been planning for this fight, too — but has he been planning enough?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots and lots of stuff happening in this issue, but it’s all organized well, and we don’t lose track of the action. Lots of intrigue and scheming and plenty of fisticuffs as well.

Justice League International #8

Batwing joins the team in this issue, as the JLI fights off a bunch of metahuman terrorists, including a light controller called Lightweaver, a decay master called Breakdown, and a communications hacker called Intersek. But most of the JLI are injured or dead, and the hospital and the UN are coming down hard on the few able-bodied Leaguers — and the bad guys have a secret, unwitting ally who they’ve manipulated into attacking the heroes.

Verdict: A very modest thumbs up. It’s not a bad story, just not shoot-the-lights-out good. I’m still bugged that most of the (extremely good) female characters are stuck in the hospital, and a bit peeved by the announcement that Batwing and Vixen knew each other back in Africa. Come on, it’s a great big continent — why assume that everyone from Africa knows each other?

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Noir Pigs

Fatale #3

We start with a flash-forward back to the modern day where Nicolas Lash has had a leg amputated after a car accident where a mysterious woman named Josephine helped him escape from some murderous thugs. He learns that the home of Hank Raines, his late godfather, has been ransacked, and his godfather’s secret novel is bizarre almost to the point of incoherence. His research into Raines’ life soon leads Lash to horrifying news…

And at that point, we jump back to the 1950s, where crooked cop Walt Booker is getting bawled out by his supervisor because he’s been busted taking bribes under the table. Booker discovers that his former lover, Jo, who he’s just sold out to supernatural hitmen in exchange for a cure for his cancer, has skipped out on him, and if he can’t find her soon, something worse than cancer is going to kill him. And Raines is hanging out with Jo, and she takes him for a walk to an old boarded-up house where she claims she once died — and where they’re accosted by a cultist who wants to kill them both. How will they survive, and what horrible things are on the horizon?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art and great retro-noir storytelling. And the supernatural/horror elements are starting to creep up there in significance, too. It’ll be interesting to see how this noir-horror stuff works out…

Justice League International #7

The UN has been bombed in an attack designed to strike at the JLI. Much of the team is injured — Fire is in a coma, Ice’s legs have been shattered, Vixen may never walk again. Booster, Batman, Guy Gardner, August General, and Godiva try to rescue as many people as they can, but things are pretty bad, and there’s an enemy out there waiting to ambush them.

Verdict: Ehh, I dunno. The writing is overall pretty good, even though the dialogue is, as always, a bit clunky. I’ve got issues with the idea that so many female characters are in the hospital with serious injuries — looks a lot like they’re getting fridged, at least temporarily, to give Booster and Guy something to angst about. There’s too dang much angst in the New 52 already — why can’t there be a team comic dedicated to good old fashioned superheroics?

The Defenders #4

This issue focuses almost entirely on Dr. Strange and Molly, his one-night-stand from the first issue. She’s a grad student working on her thesis, and she needs a book from Strange’s library to complete her research. Strange loans it to her, and an unscrupulous magician finds out about it and manages to slip his lucky magic coin into the book, allowing him to astrally project himself into any house containing the coin. He tries to blackmail Strange into letting him have access to anything in his house that he wants — but smart people don’t try to blackmail Dr. Strange. Meanwhile, Strange has been studying the magical machine that the team took from Wundagore Mountain last issue and inadvertently wishes an old girlfriend named Martha back to life.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The last issue was not very good, but this one is a lot better focusing on just a few people and their weird semi-magical relationship issues. I’m a bit bummed that apparently neither Molly nor Martha had last names. That’s really the sort of thing that should be mentioned — if they’ve been mentioned before, you can’t expect the readers to just remember that sort of trivia, and if they’ve never had last names… well, you should give ’em last names, ya know? It’s just good character work.

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Mourning Edition

Dark Horse Presents #8

The spotlight story in this issue is the short B.P.R.D. episode where Kate Corrigan of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense discovers for the first time that Hellboy, the Bureau’s most celebrated agent, has died and learns that her own future may lie in England rather than anywhere in America. Besides that, we get a story about the Beasts of Burden meeting up with some unearthly sheep, plus the final chapter of Howard Chaykin’s “Marked Man,” the amazing “The Once and Future Tarzan” by Alan Gordon and Thomas Yeates, Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson’s “The Massive,” Martin Conaghan and Jimmy Broxton’s tribute to mad science “Time to Live,” Rich Johnston and Simon Rohrmuller’s faux-mystery “The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne,” and the continuing postmortem adventures of “Skulltar” by M.J. Butler and Mark Wheatley.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Only a few stories that aren’t that good, but most of these are really good, really fun comics.

The Amazing Spider-Man #679

When we last left Spider-Man, New York City was just one minute away from being utterly destroyed. But now that minute has passed, and nothing happened? Obviously, the watch that Spidey used to guesstimate when the destruction happened could mean that all the destruction happened another 12 hours in the future, so the Wall-Crawler obviously has a lot more work to do. After enlisting the aid of Silver Sable to foil an attempt by Flag Smasher to nuke the city, Spidey thinks the day is saved, but his coworker Grady tells him the time portal still shows New York destroyed. But with Spidey stopping every crime he can on the off-chance that it might finally save the world, time is still running out. Is there anything that can save the city?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice done-in-two-issues story that’s packed with tension, humor, action, and everything else you need for a good Spidey comic.

Justice League International #6

In the aftermath of the JLI’s victory over Peraxxus, the team wraps up a few loose ends, disassembling the giant Signal Men robots and taking down a bunch of terrorists who’ve been attacking the UN with unexpectedly powerful bombs. Can the team persuade the Security Council that they should continue to work together? Or will the UN’s enemies have the last laugh?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Here’s the crazy thing about this comic. I recognize that it’s probably not anywhere near the best comic out there. The dialogue is awkward, the characterization is iffy, the scenarios are clumsy — but I like the main characters, I like the general gist of the stories, and I like the fact that none of the female characters are stuck wearing embarrassingly skimpy or idiotic costumes. Will that be enough to keep me reading the comic in the future? Time will tell…

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Look for the Union Label

The Goon #37

What we have here is not the typical funny, gross “Goon” story. This one is pretty dead serious.

Creator Eric Powell is a well-known liberal, but he’s also a big fan of unions. He takes a huge chunk of this story from the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911, where 146 people died in a fire that was made worse by nearly no safety regulations or systems. No one was ever punished for the disaster, but it helped lead to much stronger regulations protecting workers — something which Powell has surely noticed are in danger of being rolled back in the interest of enriching the “job creators” who never seem to create any jobs.

In this particular story, the sweatshop is called the Pentagram Girdle Factory, and it has tons of similarities to the historical sweatshop — nearly no safety precautions, fire marshals persuaded to look the other way, owners who turn a tidy profit off of the disaster thanks to insurance payouts, locked exits, trapped workers flinging themselves from the upper stories of the building, horrified onlookers powerless to help. After the surviving workers organize to demand better working conditions, the factory owner sends strikebreakers to beat down the protestors. But after the union goes to the Goon for help, the tide turns. The owner turns to the Zombie Master to use black magic to help him, but the Goon still beats down the bad guys. But is there any way to really hold the real villains responsible? Only in the comics, unfortunately…

Verdict: Thumbs up. An awesome change-of-pace — both educational and topical — with the great art and writing we’ve come to expect from Powell. I didn’t even realize this issue was coming out this week, but it’s definitely a great issue, though — if you haven’t gotten it, go pick it up.

The Defenders #2

Dr. Strange, Namor, the Silver Surfer, Iron Fist, and the Red She-Hulk are on the trail of Nul the World-Breaker, which recently possessed the Hulk and turned him into a tool of the Asgardian god of fear. They’ve tracked it to Wundagore Mountain, but find themselves under attack by the forces of Prester John. Iron Fist heals himself from a bullet wound to the chest, but the team soon finds itself outmatched by Prester John’s bizarre hyper-technology. Red She-Hulk eventually frees the heroes by getting Dr. Strange to scare her into turning back into Betty Ross, but is there any way to keep Nul away — and once he makes it the Prester John’s time machine, will anything be able to stop the destruction of the universe?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of action and lots of great dialogue and personality work. Lots of team comics can only handle characterization for one or two characters per issue, so the fact that this one can handle it for everyone is definitely a good thing. The only sore spot for me is that I still didn’t really understand what Prester John’s scheme involved…

Justice League International #5

The giant Signal Men robots are slowly destroying the Earth while Peraxxus harvests the planet’s minerals while his ship shoots down anything trying to reach him to stop him. So the JLI has to make it from inside the planet’s crust into orbit, all without snarking each other to death. Godiva worries about her ability to work on a cosmic level when her only power is prehensile hair, Guy Gardner complains about everyone. August General in Iron and Rocket Red start to respect each other, and Vixen tells Batman to quit being such an ass. Can the team stop Peraxxus? And even if they can, will they be able to survive the trip back down to Earth?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Better than I was expecting. I do think the dialogue is often very, very awkward, but I’m glad to see some personality development going on. I’m also fairly well impressed with the artwork and designs. None of the female characters has a silly costume, and when was the last time you could say that about a DC team comic? I’m also pretty happy with Aaron Lopresti’s work on the characters’ body language.

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Playing Defense

The Defenders #1

“The Defenders” has always seemed like a weird series — never a sales leader, never remarked upon much within the Marvel Universe itself, mainly kept going as a tribute to fan nostalgia. Don’t know if that’ll change this time, but Marvel has resurrected the title again, this time with Matt Fraction as the writer and Terry Dodson handling the art chores.

We start out with a vast number of bad omens and badly-timed coincidences plaguing the planet, while Dr. Strange wraps up a quickly regretted one-night-stand with a coed. He divines some vague sense of bad things on the horizon just before he gets a visit from the Hulk — not a raging monster this time, the Hulk is fairly calm and intelligent these days. They quickly assemble the classic Defenders team — Dr. Strange, the Hulk, Namor, and the Silver Surfer — and the Hulk tells them he wants the hammer that turned him into Nul, Breaker of Worlds during the “Fear Itself” crossover destroyed. Only problem is that Hulk refuses to come along to help — he doesn’t want it taking him over again. So the rest of the Defenders go recruiting…

After adding Betty Ross, the Hulk’s ex-wife and current Red She-Hulk, and Iron Fist to their roster, the team tracks Nul to Wundagore Mountain, home of the High Evolutionary. About the time they make it to Wundagore, something blows their plane out of the sky, and Iron Fist gets shot in the chest. This is not an auspicious beginning for the group, is it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice characterization and dialogue for everyone, though I deeply dislike the Silver Surfer’s extremely pale word balloons. I love the art, but that’s to be expected for anything done by Terry Dodson. Looking forward to future issues of this one.

Justice League International #4

The JLI has been subdued by underground gremlins underneath the giant robot Sentrymen, and Guy Gardner stumbles onto the mastermind behind all the chaos, an interstellar despot called Peraxxus. He reveals to the team that he intends to use the Sentrymen to smash the Earth into bits so he can harvest the mineral wealth of the planet. The team manages to escape confinement, but will they be able to stop Peraxxus or keep him from destroying the world?

Verdict: I believe I’ll thumbs this one down. The thing that bugged me all the way through this issue is that everyone worries over and over that if the JLI fails, there’s no one to stop the end of the world. But gee, shouldn’t the regular Justice League, the one with Superman and Wonder Woman and the Flash and Green Lantern, have stepped in and wrapped this all up by now?

Static Shock #4

Okay, I said I was done with this one, but I keep seeing preview covers that make me want to read it, and I keep feeling like there are some very interesting things going on here, so I guess I’m sticking with it for a while longer.

Static gets stuck fighting someone called Guillotina who works for the mob boss Piranha. He wants a mad scientist called Doctor Nemo to create an army of metahumans to fight Static. Meanwhile, we learn some of the secrets of Piranha’s lieutenant, a Joker lookalike called the Pale Man, and we get a few more insights into the problem of Virgil Hawkins’ sister, Sharon, whose clone is so similar to her that no one is able to tell them apart.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Mainly because there’s so much superhero stuff going on — and not nearly enough focus on the stuff that’s really interesting: Sharon and her clone, the Pale Man’s background, and the mystery of who Guillotina is. The subplots here are vastly more interesting than the main plot.

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Snark Week

Snarked #2

Princess Scarlett and Prince Rusty are hiding out with Wilburforce J. Walrus and Clyde McDunk to avoid being captured by the traitorous royal advisors. They hope to be able to set sail to locate the King, but the advisors have other plans — they’re going to hire the most feared, most unstoppably unstoppable tracker and bounty hunter in the nation — the Gryphon! Will they be able to give him the slip, or are they all bound the the royal dungeons?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun cartooning and excellent, deceptively emotional storytelling. I love the re-imaginings we’re getting of Lewis Carroll’s characters, and the dialogue is quite good. You’ll definitely want to check out the backgrounds while you’re reading — lots of funny stuff gets hidden outside the main action.

Justice League International #3

Multiple giant robots threaten the Earth, and the Justice League International has not yet been successful at stopping even one of them. Do they have a chance when they have to divide their efforts around the world? Maybe if they don’t take the giants on directly. Booster Gold and Batman focus on the ground underneath a giant in Peru, while Rocket Red and Ice travel to Russia, Fire and Vixen visit South Africa, Godiva and August General in Iron go to Canada, and Guy Gardner checks out the situation from orbit. But there are more threats to be dealt with, both underground and in outer space…

Verdict: Thumbs up. In a way, I want to not like this — it’s not a particularly deep, meaningful comic. The villains are pretty forgettable. The dialogue is not ideal, though the characterization is getting stronger. And I don’t know why a bunch of giant robots and a huge spaceship would mobilize a bunch of second-stringers and not the entire Justice League. But it’s good, solid, unapologetic superheroics. I like the characters, I like the costumes (and since so many of the A-list DC Reboot comics have been plagued by awful costume changes, that’s saying something special), I like the action, I just plain like what I’m seeing here.

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We Dig Giant Robots

Justice League International #2

While the Hall of Justice has been destroyed in Washington, DC, the Justice League International has found that their simple mission to locate some missing UN workers has become very, very complicated after a giant robot climbs out of a hole in the ground in the middle of Peru. The entire team is completely out of their depth, with too much arguing between Rocket Red and August General in Iron and too much flirting from Godiva. And when the robot attacks and injures Ice, Booster Gold makes the first serious decision of his tenure as team leader — that they should all retreat and get Ice to a doctor. This causes a great deal of stress with the rest of the team and the UN, despite support for Booster’s decision from Batman, Fire, Godiva, and August General. Guy Gardner finally gets around to joining the team, even if it’s mostly to be close to his sorta-girlfriend Ice, but he may not be enough to turn the tide, especially when even more giant robots start appearing all over the world.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Extremely nice art and good action, along with some decent advancement of the plot. It’s just all around good superheroics. If I’ve got a complaint, it’s got to be with the fact that the vast majority of these characters seem to have absolutely no personalities. This series needs to start giving these characters something to do other than fight and quote stilted dialogue at each other.

Snarked #1

Roger Langridge — creator of the acclaimed Muppet Show comics from the past couple years — kicks off his new series, based on the works of “Alice in Wonderland” author Lewis Carroll. The king has been lost at sea for six months, and his treacherous advisors want Princess Scarlett and Prince Rusty out of the way so they can rule. The Cheshire Cat appears (and then disappears) and tells them to scram out of the castle and look for Wilburforce J. Walrus and Clyde McDunk, a couple of fast-talking ne’er-do-wells, to get their protection. But can the money-hungry scoundrels be trusted?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a very cute story, with wonderfully cartoony artwork. Great characterization and dialogue — and I love the way the Cheshire Cat is drawn to look like the old silent-era Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Ya like Franz Frazetta? Sure you do! Check out this tribute from the Pictorial Arts Journal.
  • These little kids performing Metallica are awesome beyond words. Dig the bored-looking little girl who just shreds on the guitar solo.
  • And a lot of these TV rock performances — often featuring bands forced to appear on shows where they’re required to lip-synch their songs — are pretty funny. Loved the video of Iron Maiden randomly trading their instruments back and forth during the show.

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International Super Teams

Justice League International #1

Well, the UN is putting together their own team of superheroes in answer to the newly-formed Justice League, and the diplomatic bureaucracy hammers out a group of mostly random misfits, including Booster Gold (as the team leader, because they figure he’ll be easy to control), Guy Gardner (who immediately quits the team because he can’t stand the idea of Booster leading them), Vixen, Fire, Ice, Godiva, Rocket Red, and August General in Iron. The UN specifically removes Batman from consideration, but he invites himself along anyway. Their first mission sends them to Peru to look for a missing research team — but what they find instead is an ambush by lava monsters! Can the team pull together to deal with this threat — and the far worse threat that comes behind it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one isn’t trying to convince us that the New Rebooted DC is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s just putting out a decent superhero comic — and these days, that’s unique and wonderful enough all on its own. Gotta admit some of the choices for the team are surprising — I like August General in Iron, but he seems even less likely than Guy to accept Booster Gold — or anyone else — leading a team he’s on…

iZombie #17

There’s an all-out zombie apocalypse taking place on the streets of Eugene, Oregon, and that’s the worst time for a knock-down, drag-out between the government-sponsored monsters of the Dead Presidents and the undercover monster-hunters in the Fossor Corporation. And even worse is the fact that Gwen, a zombie, and Spot, a were-terrier, are stuck in the middle of it. All this while mad scientist Galatea has a face-to-face meeting with Kovsky, a disembodied brain in a coffee maker, Ellie makes a new friend who just escaped from Galatea’s lab, Spot’s chimpanzee grandfather seeks shelter in the diner, and Gwen discovers an unsettling truth about how she died.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of action, lots of drama. The art by Michael Allred is, as always, outstanding, and Chris Roberson’s storytelling skills are still top-of-the-heap. Of course, the big problem for Gwen in all of this is that there’s a lot of fighting going on, and a lot of people who want to kill her — and she doesn’t really specialize in being able to fight…

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