Archive for Madame Xanadu

Batmen, Batwomen, and Everyone Else, Too

Batwoman #0

Did you need another introduction to Batwoman? Just in case you were a schmuck and hadn’t read her story earlier this year in Detective Comics? Well, that’s what this issue is. The new series will start up soon enough, so we get Bruce Wayne following Batwoman and Kate Kane around incognito for a few days trying to figure out what makes her tick.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s great to see J.H. Williams III’s artwork again — and this time, Amy Reeder is apparently doing half of the pencils — it looks like Williams is going to be drawing the Batwoman side of the equation, while Reeder will draw whatever Kate is up to. Will it work? I have no idea — I need more than one issue to evaluate this stuff, man.

Madame Xanadu #29

Well, crud, it’s the final issue of this comic. Nimue spends some time instructing her new apprentice, Charlotte Blackwood, in the intricacies of the Tarot, the crystal ball, and the benefits and disadvantages of being able to see the future. She cleans up a loose end — Betty Reynolds, last seen as the innocent woman forced to serve as Morgaine le Fey’s host body, and now living a thoroughly rotten life because of it — and she has one final meeting with the Phantom Stranger, in which both of them contemplate the coming age of superheroes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not happy to see that this series is ending, but I’m glad to see that Matt Wagner was able to bring Amy Reeder back for one final issue. And her art is as top-notch as ever here — beautifully expressive work all over, though my favorite is the snarl that Nimue greets the Phantom Stranger with — if there’s an award for “Best Facial Expression of the Year,” that one should be in the running.

Detective Comics #871

Scott Snyder and Jock make their debuts on this title with Dick Grayson opening up a new forensics lab for the Gotham PD. After discovering that a teenager who morphed into a crocodilian monster was actually dosed with Killer Croc’s mutagen from the police evidence locker, Dick investigates as Batman — the teenager’s family butler is soon killed by the lady of the house — who’s been exposed to a mind-control patch developed by the Mad Hatter. When Batman finally traces the stolen evidence to a former cop, he learns about some guy called “The Dealer” who runs illegal auctions selling villain paraphernalia. But before the cop can spill too much, he’s killed by a vine that erupts out of his throat. Who’s behind all this?

Verdict: Thumbs up. We’ve all gotten to know Scott Snyder through “American Vampire,” so I figured this was going to be worth reading. Very nice character work with both Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon, and I love the developing mystery so far. I’ve got my suspicions of who the Dealer really is, but we’ll see how it all plays out…

Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #3

Billy and Sproul have cornered Edward Hyde, the ape-faced freak who seems to be Jack the Ripper — but then he turns into H.H. Holmes, who Isadora identifies as the Ripper. Billy and Sproul chase him, but Billy has already been identified by the police as the Ripper, and he runs out of bullets just as he runs into an angry mob. They beat the snot out of him, but he’s rescued by Hyde — it appears that Hyde is the good version of Holmes. Now the group must try to figure out a way to get rid of Holmes without killing innocent Hyde. And in the backup story, the Goon and Franky chase after the hobo who stole their weiners. The Goon beats up an alligator, but will he have such an easy time when he has to fight an army of hobos?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, fun art, and some entertaining whuppins. And the Goon story is chock full o’ hobos, so that’s another one in the WIN column.

Batman and Robin #17

Paul Cornell takes over this title from Grant Morrison and gives us Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne taking on a really twisted bridal party in the process of investigating the death and disinterment of a woman named Una Nemo, one of Bruce Wayne’s former flames. And the question that seems to be on everyone’s minds — what are we missing? And how does the answer to that question affect Batman and Robin?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A seriously freaky story — excellently weird villains from beginning to end and nicely bizarre mystery to clear up.

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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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Long Lost Batman

Batman: Hidden Treasures #1

What’s this? Basically, DC found an unpublished Batman story in their archives. They’re not entirely sure why it wasn’t published, because it featured beautiful artwork by impossibly freakin’ brilliant artist Bernie Wrightson! The full story, probably created in the late 1980s or early ’90s, is told in splash pages, alongside text by Ron Marz, as Batman tracks Solomon Grundy, who has abducted a man off the street. The second story is from Swamp Thing #7 from 1973 — written by Len Wein and illustrated by Wrightson, it spotlights a confrontation between Batman and Swamp Thing as the muck monster tries to sneak through Gotham City to rescue Matt Cable and Abigail Arcane.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, it’s five dollars, but it’s worth it for this beautiful, crisp, clear artwork by Wrightson. And it’s not even like that’s all you’re getting — the classic Swamp Thing story is a fantastic bonus. If you love Wrightson’s art, or if you want to see why you should love his art, this is definitely worth picking up.

Dethklok #1

Huzzah! An ongoing series for the world’s most insanely popular death metal band! Dethklok is starting their own line of frozen vegetables. The Tribunal is wary, fearing that the world will come to rely on Dethklok for all their food. While awaiting the official unveiling of the frozen food, we get treated to Dethklok playing golf, Murderface’s complete ignorance of evolution and his rotten school life, Toki’s angst over killing his father, and Dr. Rockzo the Rock and Roll Clown (He does cocaine!) and his horrible flashbacks about bananas. Can the band assure that frozen food can be properly metal? Will their concert and the frozen food line go off without a hitch? Or with a whole lot of hitches?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The only way this could be more perfectly Metalocalypsian would be if they included actual heavy metal tracks for the concert at the end of the comic.

Secret Six #26

There are two Secret Sixes invading the underground fantasy kingdom of Skartaris — Bane’s group includes Jeannette, Giganta, King Shark, Lady Vic, and Dwarfstar, while Scandal’s team includes Deadshot, Ragdoll, Black Alice, Catman, and a government operative named Tremor. Catman tangles with an ugly water monster, Black Alice loses her powers, Spymaster lays a surprise on Amanda Waller, and Scandal and Bane’s fight comes to an unexpected conclusion.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wow, that monster in the lake is really creepy! Tremor is starting out as a fairly interesting character, and Black Alice gets some great moments.

Madame Xanadu #27

Our story opens in 1964 with a supermodel named Neon Blue. Impossibly wealthy, beautiful, and aloof, she’s acclaimed worldwide, dislikes everyone, and prefers not to be touched. And when she does touch someone, they tend to die horribly. But eventually, she runs across a fortune-teller who can see what she really is.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story wasn’t all that great, and I thought Celia Calle’s art was distracting in all the wrong ways. Sorry — can’t all be winners.

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The Nose Knows

Madame Xanadu #26

Sammy is a little homeless boy who’s plagued by a tremendously noxious odor. No one can stand to be anywhere near him, the schools won’t accept him, animals run away from him. Well, except for dogs. Dogs chase him and try to eat him. When he can escape from the dogs, he sleeps in someone’s basement — always the same basement — and he has happy dreams where he’s a brave hero. But even in his dreams, he’s pursued by the Space Witch. Eventually, after much too long lost on his own, he meets up with the Space Witch — Madame Xanadu, of course. And she reveals the great secret about Sammy’s life.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Another strange, sad story from this series. Don’t be put off by Chrissie Zullo’s art — it may look like a bunch of “Precious Moments” figures, but that’s just to draw you into the storybook feel of this tale.

Wonder Woman #602

The alternate history version of Wonder Woman is trying to save a small enclave of Amazons hiding out at a hidden temple in Turkey. She bonds with them for a while, talks to the gods, and goes out to fight the soldiers waiting outside the temple to kill them.

Verdict: Thumbs down. There’s some fighting at the beginning and the end, and the entire middle is taken up with a lot of talking. And it’s pretty boring talking. Come to think of it, the fighting ain’t that great either. It’s just not a very entertaining comic at all.

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The Blood is the Life

American Vampire #5

New vampire Pearl Jones and her non-vampire friend Henry bring the fight to the Euro-vamps who’ve taken over Hollywood and take ’em down without too much trouble. But Pearl has one last score to settle — Hattie Hargrove, her former friend who sold her out to become a movie star. But Pearl gets a rude surprise — Hattie used Pearl’s blood to turn herself into a vampire! Who wins out when American-born vampire fights American-born vampire? And in our Old West story, written, as always, by Stephen King, former Pinkerton agent James Book has been turned into a vampire by Skinner Sweet, and he’s trying to control his ever-growing bloodlust by sticking to eating sheep and prairie dogs. He finally convinces Abilena Camillo, daughter of his oldest friend, to kill him, but Abi’s fallen in love with him, and she wants something from him first.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent horror storytelling all around. Loved the reveal about Hattie, loved the hints about one of Pearl’s still-unrevealed weaknesses, loved every single appearance of Skinner Sweet, loved the reluctant and still a little creepy love story between James Book and Abi. Good stories, nice endings for the first storyarcs, and I’m definitely looking forward to more.

Madame Xanadu #25

I think Matt Wagner has been watching a lot of “Mad Men” lately. This latest issue is set in ’63 and focuses on a fast-talking Madison Avenue advertising salesman, pitching new ad campaigns to big companies in New York City. But he’s starting to hear voices. Specifically, he’s starting to hear people telling him terrible things, trying to goad him into attacking and killing them. He soon meets up with Madame Xanadu, who tells him that he’s being haunted by an evil spirit that exists to make people go mad and commit murders and other atrocities. She offers a magical rattle he can use to fend off the spirit, but he balks at the idea of waving a rattle around his office. Is there any way to help him if he won’t accept mystical aid?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Laurenn McCubbin‘s art works very well for the early ’60s setting. It doesn’t have the more upbeat ending that we often see in this series, but it has a realistic feel to it — in the modern, rational world, how many people would choose to be driven mad by a demon if the alternative was for their coworkers to think they were nuts for waving a rattle around the office…?

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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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Behind the Magic Eight Ball

Madame Xanadu #23

Morgaine le Fey has Nimue and John Jones on the ropes — as a (shhh, don’t tell) Martian, he’s got a weakness against fire, and that’s what Morgaine is attacking them with. While Nimue manages to teleport them to safety, Morgaine is now clued in that Nimue has hidden the helmet artifact she was seeking somewhere in her mostly-wrecked brownstone home. Nimue beats Jones back to her home, but must now fight her sister alone — and Morgaine is a much stronger spellcaster. Does Nimue have any way to win out against her sister?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I would’ve liked to see more stuff here with the disguised Martian Manhunter… but then again, it’s not his comic book, is it? A lot of what we get here is two women throwing spells at each other, but it’s nice to see Nimue use her own cleverness against Morgaine’s greater magical powers.

Mystery Society #1

This new series introduces us to Nick Hammond and his wife Anastasia Collins, co-leaders of an organization called the Mystery Society. Mystery hunters at heart, they both specialize in more supernatural mysteries. Most of the story is told in flashback, as Nick is about to start a prison sentence for a number of possibly trumped-up crimes. We learn about Nick infiltrating the very heavily guarded Area 51 to locate two little girls being held in some sort of stasis. Anastasia, meanwhile, is seemingly safe at home until she finds a skull-faced intruder in the house. How are Nick and Anastasia going to deal with this crazy stuff?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is great fun, and Nick and Anastasia are a combination we really don’t get to see very often in comics — equal partners, wisecrackers, very much in the “Nick and Nora Charles” vein. They’re great fun to hang out with, frankly, and that’s even before there are any fisticuffs with oversized robots or skull-masked burglars. And the art is by Fiona Staples, who I hope many of y’all will remember from the wonderful “North 40” series from a while back. So yes, I’d say this one looks like a keeper.

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Thor and the Warriors Four #2

I’ve never really been into Power Pack. And I freely admit that the entire reason I started collecting this miniseries is because I saw a preview of this cover, which made me laugh like a hyena.

Oh, man, I’m gonna have to explain this for people who aren’t up on their Thor continuity, aren’t I? The big guy there is Beta Ray Bill, an alien who was the first non-Asgardian to be worthy enough of being able to pick up Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer. Odin gave him powers like Thor’s, and both of them consider each other great friends, if not outright brothers. And yes, he really does look like a horsey.

Aaaaaanyway, in this issue, the Power Pack kids make their way to the Rainbow Bridge that leads from our world in Midgard to the home of the Norse gods in Asgard. They meet a kindly peddler who offers them some more appropriate, Viking-esque clothing to help them disguise themselves, then march into Asgard and start their own superheroic careers as the Warriors Four. In time, this gets them a meeting with Thor himself, and the heroes swap stories — Thor’s being properly mythological and heroic, and the Power kids’ being a bit less so. The Powers tell Thor and Bill that their grandmother is dying, and they want to take some of the gods’ Golden Apples to her to make her well. Before Thor can tell them that it can’t be done, a frost giant attacks, and the kids help defeat it. But it’s all part of someone else’s evil plot — the kindly peddler was really Loki in disguise and he uses the kids’ Norse costumes to… Well, that would be telling.

And then there’s the backup story by Colleen Coover, as Hercules and the Power Pack beat the stuffing out of HYDRA, all while Herc tells the kids stories about his Twelve Labors. But can they complete the greatest labor of all — cleaning up the house?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very funny, very awesome, and much like Mjolnir, very much worthy of being picked up. Outstanding cartooning all around, and great funny lines and situations. Yes, Katie Power drives Bill half crazy by wanting him to be a big magical pony, which is hilarious and adorable… as are the dreadful fates visited upon Thor, Bill, and Odin…

Batman and Robin #12

Damian’s mother has secretly implanted control devices into his new artificial spine, allowing Deathstroke to take control of his body and attack Dick Grayson. The good news is that the neural interface isn’t perfect, and it lets Batman hurt Slade by punching Robin. It takes Deathstroke out of the fight and gives Robin control of his body back. Batman and Robin travel to Talia’s hideout and beat up her goons. Damian tells her that he’s perfectly happy being Robin, and Talia tells him she respects his decision — but she’s disowning him, because she’s growing his clone, who’s going to be her new son. Returning to Gotham City, Batman, Robin, and Alfred discover evidence that Bruce Wayne is lost in time, Dr. Hurt prepares the forces of the Black Glove for more attacks, and Dick Grayson discovers that Oberon Sexton is really… Well, that would be telling.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s good. It’s really just fantastically good, every step of the way through.

Madame Xanadu #22

As Nimue and mysteriously superhuman detective John Jones hurry to stop Morgana’s schemes in 1950s America, Morgana is enjoying being worshiped by a bunch of mind-controlled cultists. Nimue and Mr. Jones have intercepted one of Morgana’s artifacts — the war helmet of Morgana’s son, Mordred — and her frustration with its loss leads her to gruesomely kill two of her cultists. When our heroes arrive, they have little trouble with Morgana’s cultists, but her spells prove to be a lot more difficult to shrug off.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, it’s great fun to see the Martian Manhunter in action here. Heck, even when Morgana is being her most rotten, it’s mainly an irritation that John Jones isn’t front and center, showing off…

Jonah Hex #55

So five years ago, a bunch of saloon robbers tore into a bar, killed the owner and his wife, and got captured by Jonah Hex, leaving little Billy, a explosives-obsessed toddler, orphaned. The kid steals Hex’s gun away and kills the surviving robbers himself, with four bullets and four perfect headshots. Years pass, and another bunch of banditos show up to rob the joint. Billy, now calling himself Billy Dynamite, owns the place now, and he stuffs an oversized firecracker in the leader’s mouth. The rest of the gang set the bar on fire, strap Billy with dynamite, and throw him inside. Hex gets persuaded to do something about it, so he catches the gang, ties ’em up, and leaves ’em suspended over multiple packs of explosives before blowing ’em all to kingdom come.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This story has some serious problems. First, Billy doesn’t really change in appearance over five years — he starts out looking like he’s five, and by the time he’s ten, he still looks like he’s five. And dangit, you don’t take a saloon-owning pre-teen, make him a pint-sized badass, give him a moniker like “Billy Dynamite,” and then just kill him off. That’s a character with some serious personality, and you keep him around so you can use him again in future stories. You do not just cast him aside like he ain’t awesome. And finally, the ending is just too abrupt. Hex captures and kills the gang in just three pages, and he doesn’t even use a gun to do it — just fifty sticks of dynamite. That don’t seem like the Jonah Hex way, sir. So yeah, a rare (hopefully) Gray-and-Palmiotti misstep here.

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Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel…

Detective Comics #863

Serial mutilator Cutter has kidnapped Kate Kane’s cousin Bette — and he’s got an accomplice as crazy as he is, a heavily bandaged woman who wants Cutter to cut off Bette’s ears so she can have them. Bette used to be a superhero called Flamebird, but she wasn’t wildly successful and she’s kinda tied up now, so she doesn’t have much of a way to resist. Batwoman is trying to track Cutter down (paralleled by how Bruce Wayne tried to track Cutter down years ago, the first time he kidnapped someone), but can she find them in time to save Bette?

Meanwhile, in the backup feature starring the Question, Renee Montoya and the Huntress have been caught on Oolong Island, international haven for mad scientists, and get tortured to find out what they’re doing there. Soon, they’re brought before Veronica Cale, president-for-life of Oolong, and they persuade her that directing them to the smuggler they’re after is a lot easier than having to deal with a bunch of superheroes who’ll eventually come looking for them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art, great storytelling. And that’s for both the main feature and the backup. Don’t know that I need to say a lot more than that — this is just a wonderful, wonderful comic book. Greg Rucka is going to be greatly missed when he leaves this book.

Madame Xanadu #21

This series finally leave pre-Arthurian Britain and returns to 1950s America, where Nimue has been ambushed by her sister Morgaine le Fey and buried under the rubble inside her shop. Luckily, the mysterious, super-strong, telepathic detective John Jones comes to her rescue. While Morgaine cavorts with her suburban Satanists, Madame Xanadu and Detective Jones locate a group of mobsters who have transported a strange magical artifact from Chicago to New York. They take out the gangsters fairly easily (and Mr. Jones gets to show off some more of his unearthly talents) and finally gain control of Morgaine’s artifact. But what is it, and what place does it play in Morgaine’s plans?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very, very glad we’re finally continuing this part of the story again. Aside from getting more of Amy Reeder Hadley‘s fantastic art, we also get a lot more of the disguised Martian Manhunter, and the story is proceeding very well. Weirdly, one of my favorite parts of this issue was the dialogue between the gangsters, both playful and menacing at the same time.

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Wrecking Shangri-La

Madame Xanadu #20

Our flashback to Britain’s earliest history continues, through the eyes of Nimue, the future Madame Xanadu. The Romans have invaded, and Morgana is amusing herself by meddling in human affairs, in more ways than one. Nimue generally disapproves of everything she does, because that’s what she seems to do best. The sisters meet up with a young Merlin, who’s better at fortunetelling than Nimue is, and Morgana tries to destroy Camelot before it’s even begun.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Really just wildly not thrilled with this particular story — it sure makes Nimue sound like the original Miss Disapproval. She’s always sticking her nose in Morgana’s business and whining about whatever she’s doing. And I’m getting a bit frustrated that we’ve got a whole huge storyarc stuffed inside another storyarc. Can we please finish up one storyarc at a time?

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #13

Billy and Mary Batson are visiting the museum for a school field trip — complicated by the fact that Captain Marvel is supposed to make an appearance, so Billy has to somehow get away from his teacher and classmates so he can make the switch. Complicating things even more: Theo Adam, the amnesiac alter-ego of Black Adam, is in attendance, and he is suspicious of why Billy and Mary seem strangely familiar to him. And complicating things even more than that: a kid named Freddy Freeman who’s stuck in a wheelchair because Captain Marvel wasn’t able to keep his apartment building from collapsing, so he hates the Marvels. What’s it all lead to? Even more complications.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mike Norton is the new artist on this one, and his style is really wonderful. As for the story, it’s great fun. We get the introduction of Freddy Freeman, we get a nice new storyline featuring crazy Theo Adam, we get Captain Marvel checking to see if his fly is open, we get Mary getting stuck inside a giant hourglass. It’s crazy and chaotic and an excellent read.

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