Archive for Justice Society of America

The Greatest Paranormal Investigators Ever?

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden: Sacrifice

Mike Mignola’s red-skinned paranormal investigator teaming up with Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s four-legged spellcasters? Is there any way in the world this would not completely rock?

Verdict: Yes, it completely rocks. Mignola and Dorkin worked together on the script for this, and the result is big on action, supernatural weirdness, great dialogue, and great humor. Puggsley, normally the comic relief, gets his chance to shine — heck, everyone gets their chance to shine. It’s a grand story all around, and I’m glad the creators got together to make it happen.

Detective Comics #870

The conclusion of the Imposter Wars storyarc has the Jokerz and the Guardian Bats going to war in the middle of a carnival. It’s no great surprise that the deformed Winslow Heath is behind both the Jokerz and the Guardian Bats, but what is surprising and horrifying is the personal reason behind his madness — and it’s not just the Joker Venom he was exposed to years ago…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice end to the storyline. Granted, it’s an extremely downbeat and grim ending, but it’s likely the ending we had coming all along.

Madame Xanadu #28

It’s 1966, and Charlotte Blackwood is a college student who’s just had her first LSD experience. Unfortunately, once she comes off the trip, everything is vastly different for her — she can’t eat anything without experiencing its entire life-cycle. Tough enough when she has visions of wheat being harvested when she eats a bowl of cereal, but much worse when she feels what it’s like to die in a slaughterhouse while eating a hamburger. Can Madame Xanadu help her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, great hook, and Marian Churchland’s art really works well for this story.

Justice Society of America #44

New writer and artist on this series, and they’ve decided to celebrate by completely blowing up the team’s status quo again. Jay Garrick wants to retire as a superhero, Mr. Terrific is slowly losing his intelligence, a metahuman terrorist breaks Green Lantern’s neck, and corralling the terrorist means the team has to almost destroy a city to get him under control.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I remember when this title was the very best thing DC was publishing. Not anymore. And I’m done subjecting myself to the continuing decline of a once-great series.

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Clown College

Detective Comics #869

Well, Gotham City just had one heck of an awful night, thanks to the twin rampages of the Imposter Joker (and his Jokerz gang of chemically-enhanced loons) and the Imposter Batman (and his Guardian Bats gang of vigilante dorks). And a bunch of Gotham cops caught the blue flu so they could go rampage with the Guardian Bats. Things quiet down for a while, but Batman knows it’s just the calm before the storm. He meets up with Winslow Heath, a guy who caught a lungful of Joker Venom a few years back — he didn’t die, but he was disfigured with the Joker’s grin and spent years in a waking coma. Now a wealthy man, thanks to the settlement from the hospital, he’s sponsoring something called the Bartholomew Fair — and by coincidence, both the Jokerz and the Guardian Bats have been told to be ready for a party there. Can Batman prevent it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story has been plenty of fun so far, though I wish it could be a bit shorter — aren’t there any two- or three-issue storyarcs anymore?

Justice Society of America #43

This is the epilogue for the convoluted and ridiculous JSA/JLA crossover, and as expected, a lot of this makes very little sense. Green Lantern‘s Starheart is now a giant green city on the dark side of the moon, populated with thousands of magical creatures. And only GL’s concentration keeps it from falling apart. He’s hanging out with his son Obsidian and explaining how things are going to go now — specifically, he can never see his sister Jade again, or even come within a half-mile of her. If they get too close, they’ll merge into a composite being and cause the Starheart to wreck things up. GL and Dr. Fate have been trying to figure out a way they could meet, and ever scenario ends with terrific disaster. And… that’s pretty much the extent of the story.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I did enjoy some of the dialogue between Green Lantern and Obsidian, but on the whole, it was a great big bucket of yak puke.

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Teacher’s Pets

Morning Glories #1

I originally skipped this one because the initial buzz involved a lot of comparisons to Joe Casey’s superteens-at-evil-school comic series “The Intimates,” which I still think is one of the worst and most pointless comics of the past decade. But I got persuaded to give it a shot when they reprinted the first issue, so here we go.

The setting is indeed a spectacularly evil private boarding school, hidden from the public, housing intangible assassins, and keeping a bunch of super-genius students imprisoned for some unknown purpose. We follow a group of new students — pretty whiz kid Casey, rich sociopath Ike, golddigger Zoe, neglected geek Hunter, goth poet Jade, and exchange student Jun. They sit through a weird orientation video that features images of goat sacrifice, meet the hyperactive R.A.s, and barely missing seeing one of the recently executed upperclassmen. Jade learns that her father no longer remembers her, Casey learns that they all have the same birthday, and then finds out something much, much worse.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a large cast, but they’re all nicely distinct from each other, both visually and emotionally. The backstory — scant though it is for now — is also plenty interesting, and I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see how everything develops.

Strange Science Fantasy #3

Scott Morse’s retro storytelling platform continues with a weird film noir set in the early days of Hollywood. Our lead character is the Projectionist — because he has a projection camera for a head. Other projectionists in the city are being killed off by someone who wants to eliminate the movie industry in its infancy. The suspects include the Key Grip, who has keys for hands, the typewriter-headed Script Girl, the Prop Master, the Location Scout, and the deadly Silent Scream. Will the Projectionist be able to track down the Director before everything fades to black?

Verdict: Thumbs up, but you really gotta get yourself into a film noir mood to enjoy this one. Might not hurt to watch a few old detective movies — or heck, just go for the big one and watch “Sunset Boulevard.” On the other hand, I may just be encouraging you to watch “Sunset Boulevard” ’cause it’s really worth watching…

JSA All-Stars #10

The gods of Parador have returned to life, but they’re not content to remain in South America — they want to start over in Los Angeles. But they’re not fans of the current landscape, so they’re gonna knock the whole place down and build new temples. Can Power Girl and Stargirl hold out long enough for the rest of the team to arrive?

Verdict: Thumbs down. Good grief, what an awful mess this is. The plot makes nearly no sense, the artwork is weird, and I’m just completely bored with the whole thing.

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Supergirls and Superboys

Supergirl #55

Hey! Amy Reeder, creator of freakin’ gorgeous artwork on the “Madame Xanadu” series, is now drawing freakin’ gorgeous covers for “Supergirl!” Yay!

In this issue, Supergirl narrowly gets out of Bizarro Supergirl‘s turn-you-to-metal vision by apparently using superspeed to escape before she was completely covered in metal. Aaaactually, I’m not sure the Flash’s superspeedy vibration power really works that way. I mean, if you’re vibrating out of an ice coating, yeah, but not when you’re being turned into metal. Ahh, well. Supergirl rescues the hostages, then gets Dr. Light (the good female Dr. Light, not the very bad and dead male Dr. Light) to synthesize orange sunlight to take away Bizarro Supergirl’s powers. After that, Supergirl kidnaps her Bizarro version to return her to Bizarro World.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great cover, and really nice artwork inside the issue by Jamal Igle. This is all full of quite a bit of wonky comic book science, but the story itself moves along just fine. And next issue, looks like we’ll have a whole bunch of Bizarros hanging around, which is often a lot of fun…

Tiny Titans #31

Superboy, Supergirl, Superman, and the Super-Pets are all attending a birthday party at the Fortress of Solitude for Match, Superboy’s clone-turned-Bizarro. They get several special party guests, like Lex Luthor, the Brainiac Club, and the Tiny Titans version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. All that, plus Jor-El thinks his son is a monkey.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, cute, fun, and funny. The Brainiac Club is very humorous, and the Little Legion is something I’d like to see a lot more of in future issues.

Justice Society of America #42

I forgot that they were doing a long crossover with the Justice League comic, and that the whole thing was going to be written by (ugh) James Robinson, or I would’ve skipped buying this one. As it is, Jade and Obsidian get merged into one squick-worthy being, there’s a big fight with a fake evil Alan Scott, then there’s a big fight with the real evil Alan Scott, and Doctor Mid-Nite has to try to save Starman‘s life.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Even for an issue of a crossover that I haven’t been following, this one was confusing, bizarre, and just badly written. I sure hope they’ll be done with this crossover before another issue rolls around.

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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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Here, Kitty Kitty

Prince of Power #3

This was a great example of how to combine “awesome” with “hilarious.”

Amadeus Cho wants to become a god solely so he can find where in the multiverse his friend Hercules has been exiled. He’s recruited the aid of Thor, and they’re opposed by Vali Halfling, semi-mortal son of Loki, who has already acquired two of the four ingredients for the god formula for himself. Now Amadeus and Thor have traveled to the Egyptian underworld, where they have to find the Book of Thoth — but first they have to get past the savage lion-headed Sekhmet, goddess of destruction, and the snake-crocodile demon Apep. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Delphyne Gorgon, smokin’ hot green-skinned snake-haired Queen of the Amazons, is kickin’ ass and taking names inside the Olympus Group’s prison level — but to survive, she’s going to need the aid of her hated enemy Athena.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action all over the place, but there are two moments that really push this story all the way to mega-awesome — the Death Scrunchie and the sudden appearance of Hathor, Goddess of Love… and Lolcats. No spoilers here — so I’d advise you to go pick it up.

Legion of Super-Heroes #3

Well, let’s see, power-copying xenophobe Earth-Man has a Green Lantern ring that drags him off to some distant planet and commands him to save the sentient life on that world — but he can’t actually find any sentient life anywhere. Meanwhile, Saturn Queen is making more plots to kill Legion members. Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass find Saturn Girl and go to help her find her children.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I’ll grant you, it gets better whenever we can see a few more of the Legionnaires, but on the whole, this comic is boring me silly.

Justice Society of America #41

It’s a crossover with the “Justice League of America” comic — which I haven’t read, and don’t have a lot of interest in reading. Apparently, something has gone wrong with Green Lantern’s Starheart-activated powers, and it’s causing other super-people to go crazy for completely unexplained reasons.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Stupid crossovers are stupid.

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Joker in the Deck

Batman and Robin #13

Oberon Sexton’s true identity has been revealed — not a masked detective and mystery writer, he’s actually the Joker. He claims to have turned over a new leaf without the old Batman around to torment, but can anyone trust anything he says? Dick Grayson soon determines that Dr. Hurt, the man who tried to kill Bruce Wayne and claimed to be either Dr. Thomas Wayne or the Devil, is back on the scene and has managed to infect almost everyone in Gotham City with a contagious addiction. And while Robin confronts the Joker and prepares to beat him to death with a crowbar, Dick and Commissioner Gordon come under attack from Professor Pyg’s Dollotrons.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Amazing artwork from Frazer Irving, amazing writing from Grant Morrison. Lots of dominos being uncovered, lots more falling. Everything with the Joker is brilliant — I really can’t tell right now if he’s reformed because his Batman is gone or if he’s just pulling another scam. We don’t see much of Dr. Hurt, but what we do see is wonderful and scary. I get the feeling this storyarc is going to be pretty awesome.

Secret Six #23

This one is apparently a flashback, an untold story, dating from before Issue #19. Don’t know why we’re not seeing it ’til now, but ehh, whatever. We’re on a Carribean island where a kingpin called himself Nero has set up a special hunting range for a bunch of wealthy psychopaths allowing them to hunt and kill human beings using powered armor and remote-controlled drones. But killing a bunch of normals isn’t all that much fun for these guys. But Nero has a treat in store — he’s hired the Secret Six for a job — or in reality, so he can set them up as the prey for the next day’s hunt. Anyone wanna guess how this one’s going to end?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Sometimes, it’s just fun to see rich douchemooks bite off more than they can chew.

JSA All-Stars #8

So there’s this South American country called Parador, and they’re killing crooks in the US by basically sacrificing some of them to their weird gods and dosing others with a drug that makes them see their weird gods. Sounds like a pretty, um, weird country. After Cyclone tries to start up a relationship with King Chimera, most of the team travels to Parador where they end up running into some of the Paradoran gods, including some leopard and monkey monsters and a giant spider.

Verdict: A little from Column A, a little from Column B. It’s a bit of a confusing plotline, but it’s playing out well. Maybe it’ll make more sense later.

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Under the Sea

Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1

A new story about one of Abe’s earlier missions, with writing by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, and art by Peter Snejbjerg. Long decades after a large number of sailors drowned in a sunken Soviet submarine, Abe is assigned to swim down and recover something called Melchiorre’s Burgonet, a medieval helmet with reputed magical powers. Once Abe gets to the sub, he doesn’t find the expected zombies, just a lot of long-dead waterlogged corpses floating eerily in the darkness. He recovers the helmet, returns to the ship awaiting him, argues with the captain when he wants to salvage the sub, and then finds an unexpected visitor.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a wonderfully atmospheric story (and a great cover, too), from the Russian sailor awaiting the water, darkness, and cold that will end him to the dreamlike scenes of drowned bodies floating through the water around and inside the sub. It’s beautifully tense horror, and you should definitely go pick this one up.

Justice Society of America #40

This ends up being a bit of an anticlimactic ending to the time travel storyarc — the message that Future Mr. Terrific sent to Present Mr. Terrific actually arrives back around Issue #32 of this series, back when Mr. Terrific died (briefly) on the operating table. This time, he revives, blurts out a message to “Hatch the egg,” and passes out again. Green Lantern, assuming he may be hearing Michael’s last request, goes out, finds the “egg,” and releases his son Obsidian from captivity. He helps to rout the crop of villains attacking the JSA, then participates in the rest of the Justice Society’s various adventures since then, and Mr. Terrific retains his memories of the future, helping the team get the drop on the Nazi supervillains and eventually offering a scholarship to the girl who would, in the alternate future, have turned out to be his interrogator.

Verdict: I’ll give it a thumbs up. It’s one of the weirder retcons I’ve seen, but it all seems to work out well. And it gets Obsidian back as an active superhero again, so I’ll proclaim that a good thing, too.

Zatanna #2

After helping Black Canary and Vixen take out a pack of were-hyenas in New Orleans, Zatanna returns home to San Francisco for some well-deserved shut-eye, but she soon falls prey to a nightmare-causing demon with the unlikely name of Fuseli, who has been empowered by the evil Brother Night to try to keep her in dreamland forever. And Brother Night is putting the squeeze on Detective Colton, too — he plans on taking over all magical and mundane crime in S.F., and he warns Colton that he better get on his good side. Can he help Zatanna escape from her dreaming prison? And who is Brother Night’s secret ace-in-the-hole?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice stuff, fun depiction of a good nightmare villain, some excellent work on cranking up the menace of Brother Night, who really is just creepy as heck, and the surprise guest appearance on the final page really makes for a good cliffhanger.

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Impolite Society

Justice Society of America #39

In this time-travel mini-epic, the Nazis of the Fourth Reich were a lot better organized than I would’ve expected — they’re able to trick the Green Lantern Corps and a whole bunch of Earth’s outer-space allies into attacking, just so they can hit them with the power-removing Darkness Engine. That left the rest of the planet unable to stop the Nazis from taking over, and now, after a few decades of living under Nazi rule, the imprisoned and depowered superheroes are finally going to strike back. Most of ’em get slaughtered — nearly all of their missions are suicide missions designed to keep some of the Nazi war machines occupied until someone can make it into the tower where the Darkness Engine is located. Does that mean they can travel back in time and prevent this? Not a chance.

Verdict: Thumbs up. While I do think this storyarc has gone on too long, I’m fairly happy with how this chapter of the story goes down. Yes, it’s completely hopeless and tons of superheroes buy the farm, but that’s also to be expected in this kind of time travel story — by the time the final chapter arrives, the big red Reset button will be pressed, and everything will be right as rain.

JSA All-Stars #7

Here’s a thoroughly odd issue. Thanks to the wonders of overlapping comic book storylines, the last few issues of this comic featured Damage, a character who was killed months ago during “Blackest Night.” Though I suspected he’d be one of the people resurrected, he stayed dead, so this issue is Damage’s long-delayed funeral issue. Most of it is told from Judomaster‘s point-of-view, which I’m happy with, ’cause it’s way, way past time she had some kind of spotlight other than “that martial arts (but not judo) girl who used to be able to speak English but can’t anymore.” After Damage’s death, she learned that Sand had foreseen his death and warned him about it, but he chose to go out and fight the Black Lantern zombies anyway. Before he died, he left a video message for her, but it just upsets her even more, and she goes out to kill the assassin who murdered her father years ago. However, King Chimera shows her the rest of the message that she missed, and after delivering Damage’s eulogy, she does a few unusual good deeds he wanted to do in life.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This was a bit hokey in places, but it had some genuine emotion, good action, and a better eulogy than I was expecting. And Judomaster is a much more bearable character, now that she’s not the dead-silent ninja stereotype anymore.

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Lost in Time

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #1

Spidey and Wolverine have found themselves transported back to prehistoric times. While Spidey has turned into a hermit, caging up giant spiders, letting his beard grow, and doing hardcore research into the time period, Wolverine has taken up a role as the leader of a stone-age tribe, teaching them how to fend off larger and more barbaric cavemen. But Spidey’s discovered that an extinction-event meteor is on its way, and they’re all going to die tomorrow. Is there any hope for anyone to survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This had a very nice set-up and fun dialogue. Petey and Logan have been stuck out here for quite a while, and their limited interaction was pretty cool. Not sure we’re going to have any deeply meaningful story here — this is mainly an excuse to get Wolverine and Spider-Man involved in some fun time-travel stuff. There are some things that bug me — humans and dinosaurs never existed at the same time, and how did Peter Parker manage to refine glass lenses to make a telescope? — but those are minor quibbles in a very enjoyable story.

JSA All-Stars #6

A botched spell by Anna Fortune has somehow brought the terrible Subtle Realms to our own dimension — and released the monstrous King of Tears from captivity. Meanwhile, Stargirl has just discovered that the Atom-Smasher who she’s been traveling with for the past month is actually Johnny Sorrow in disguise — he’s been trying to get her to fall in love with him so he can sacrifice her to bring himself back to life. Is there any way for the team to destroy the King of Tears, stop Johnny Sorrow, and rescue Stargirl and the real Atom-Smasher?

Verdict: Amazingly, thumbs up. The art is still awful, but the story and pacing finally make up for it. We get multiple storylines with focuses on numerous JSA members, and they all make sense, and they all get decent coverage. That’s something that this book hasn’t managed yet, and I’m hoping it means good things for this title’s future.

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