Archive for Mystery Society

Mystery Machine


Mystery Society Special 2013

The Mystery Society is back?! HOT DAMN! I had no clue this was even coming out, so it was an absolutely wonderful treat when I found it on the New Releases shelf last week.

The full membership of the group — Nick and Anastasia Hammond, twin super-psychics Nina and Sally, undead adventurer Secret Skull, and Jules Verne (or at least his brain in a steampunk robot body) — are on hand for another caper, first sending Verne and the Skull deep undersea to trade the skull of Edgar Allan Poe with a collector of unusual items. But of course, he welshes on the deal, intending to add Verne and the Skull to his collection. Nina and Sally teleport Nick and Anastasia down to help, later tagging along themselves when they get bored. Who are the prisoners who the Mystery Society intend to free? Only a few legends of myth and literature… who may be a bit too terrifying to be trusted…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wow, I’d forgotten how much I loved this series, and this issue serves as a great reminder of how much fun it was. My lone complaint is that, though Steve Niles is back on writing duties, Fiona Staples didn’t return to do the art. Andrew Ritchie is quite good, but he’s more closely associated with horror comics — and while this book has quite a few monsters in it, Ritchie’s art style seems an odd match for the Mystery Society’s pulp-adventure thrills. Still, that’s a fairly minor nitpick. The whole comic is just plain awesome, and y’all should go get this, and you should also go hunt down the trade paperback of the “Mystery Society” trade paperback.


Batwoman #18

Batwoman and Hawkfire (Kate Kane’s cousin Bette in a new costumed persona) battle Mr. Freeze, each in secret communication with their technological benefactors — Cameron Chase of the DEO in Kate’s case, and Col. Jake Kane in Bette’s. They manage to take Freeze down, but run into more trouble when Batman shows up. He wants the villain’s freeze-gun, but the DEO wants it, too. Batwoman “solves” the problem by demolishing the weapon, which just convinces the DEO that she’s too much of a loose cannon, so they start planning on bringing out their new ace agent. All that, plus Maggie Sawyer starts house-hunting for a house for her and Kate once they get married…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good issue — but it must be said, it’s also not as good as many of the previous issues of this series — the art and writing are not quite up to the high standards we’ve come to expect from this series. Still probably better than almost anything else out there, though…

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Mysteries Solved

Mystery Society #5

Nick Hammond has been remanded to the custody of the civilian authorities, much to the chagrin of the military brat who harbors a colossal grudge against him. Meanwhile, his wife, Anastasia, and the rest of the Mystery Society — the Secret Skull, the disembodied brain of Jules Verne in the body of a clockwork robot, and the twin super-psychics Nina and Sally — are heading for the Pentagon where they hope a secret video file will allow them to clear Nick’s name. Will they be able to get into the Pentagon without being shot? And will any evidence keep Nick from being assassinated by his enemies?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This miniseries has been a blast from beginning to end. Steve Niles and Fiona Staples really did a great job here, and I hope IDW will okay a new followup series.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – New World #5

Ben Daimio barely figures out how to stop a giant monster while it’s trying to possess him — he has to kill the mostly innocent woman who is its anchor in the world. (It actually makes perfect sense in the comic, but my powers of description have failed me, frankly.) Ben warns Abe Sapien that really bad times are probably on the way for humanity. Once Abe gets back to B.P.R.D. headquarters, he has to deal with Andrew Devon’s increasingly paranoid suspicions, and he starts planning for the day when he may have to strike out on his own without the Bureau for support.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bit dreary, as Abe’s world is slowly falling apart around him, and very creepy in places. All in all, definitely a good read and a nice ending for this storyarc.

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Bat Family Reunion

Batman and Robin #16

Barring the off-schedule ending of “Return of Bruce Wayne,” this comic is the final chapter of Grant Morrison’s long-running Batman epic — heck, come to think of it, it’s basically the secret last chapter of “Final Crisis.” How’s it turn out?

After a short visit to colonial times to see the evil Thomas Wayne make his bargain for immortality with the demon Barbatos, the rest of the issue focuses on the returned Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Damian Wayne taking on Thomas Wayne as Dr. Hurt, Professor Pyg, and the 99 Fiends. Bruce gets trapped in a deathtrap by Hurt — but of course he escapes, and he has to choose between aprehending Hurt or saving Alfred. All that plus the Joker! All that plus Bruce Wayne spills the beans to the press!

Verdict: Thumbs up. All the attention is going to Bruce’s announcement at the end (that he is Batman’s corporate funder) — I think it’s a pretty decent idea, though probably not absolutely necessary. But Morrison’s final issue here is a pretty rollicking story all on its own. It was grand fun, and I’m glad I got to read along with it.

Mystery Society #4

Nick Hammond lets himself get captured by the government so he can look for evidence that he and his wife Anastasia Collins have been framed. Meanwhile, the Secret Skull and Jules Verne (in his awesome steampunk robot body) chase down the man who stole Edgar Allan Poe’s skull. Can everyone get back together and figure out a way to rescue Nick?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff going on here, particularly anything having to do with the Secret Skull and Jules Verne (and his awesome steampunk robot body) (and its amazing butt rocket). The story’s fun, the art is fun, it’s all worth picking up.

Strange Science Fantasy #5

Rusty Irons is a palooka boxer with a heart of gold. He falls in love with a girl named Suzie, helps take care of her senile mother, and dreams of being able to buy her a ring. He finally agrees to throw a fight to get the money, but he gets double-crossed and sent to the hospital. Suzie shells out the dough for an experimental treatment — and Rusty is transformed into a hyper-elastic man. Can Rusty get over the birth pangs of his new existence and make it up to Suzie and her mother?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great fun — Scott Morse channels Jack Cole in this great pulpish Plastic Man story.


Zodon, Guardian Angel, 84, and USA Patriot Act have traveled to an alternate dimension to prevent Victor Von Fogg from destroying it to power his reality-altering machine. Will the kids be able to fight off a squad of agents from the Trans Dimensional Defense Division? Why is Zodon so interested in keeping this superhero-less world safe? Will Forak be able to keep the dimensional gateway safe? Will Moon Shadow and Captain Clarinet be able to keep from killing each other while they’re lost in deep space?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s going to be fun to find out more about Zodon’s past in the next few issues. As always, Aaron Williams’ great storytelling and artwork make this comic a must-read.

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Mystery Hunt

Mystery Society #3

While Nick and Anastasia Mystery escape with the super-psychic girls Sally and Nina to a new hideout in the tropics, the Skull and Jules Verne (in his awesomely cool robot body) travel to Baltimore to look for the stolen skull of Edgar Allan Poe. After evading the police by pretending to be going to a sci-fi convention, they meet up with a possible culprit in the theft — namely, the suspiciously-named Charles Y. Culprit, who runs the Edgar Allan Poe Historical Society. Meanwhile, Sally and Nina reveal that they can read minds and teleport when they take Nick and Anastasia to see Zeke Jones, a tech expert who analyzes the security tapes that purport to show that Nick killed a general. Hoping to find more answers, Nick and Ana return to Area 51, but run into the general’s son, who attacks them with giant robots.

Verdict: Thumbs up. All in all, it’s pretty rollicking good fun. The art by Fiona Staples is just grandly charismatic, and Steve Niles’ story is zipping along wonderfully. I just wish we could see more of the Skull, who is frequently hilarious.

Birds of Prey #5

The newly re-reformed Savant and Creote take Babs to her new Gotham headquarters, while Black Canary handcuffs the White Canary and accompanies her back to Thailand. Hawk and Lady Blackhawk are taken to the hospital to recover, and Huntress almost decides to shoot several arrows into Penguin’s face. After Zinda recovers, she and Huntress make a trip to Bangkok to find Dinah, but they’re attacked by a bunch of martial arts thugs with a surprising leader.

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s boring, and this is not a comic that should be boring.

The Unwritten #17

We get a little stuff about Lizzie Hexam’s past, and then Tom Taylor and Savoy help her escape from the hospital. I actually had some trouble getting this story to make sense, because it’s all told in the style of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. You know, “If you want to take the corridor on the right, go to page 43. If you want to take the corridor on the left, go to page 12.”

Verdict: Thumbs down. I loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books when I was younger, but it turns out, they don’t seem to adapt well to comic books. Bad enough you end up reading nearly the entire comic turned over on its side, but there’s just too much bouncing back and forth in a comic that’s not all that easy to read in that format. I think the story was fine, but it wasn’t worth all the hassle of actually reading the durn thing.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • If you’re ever traveling through time and need a convenience store, you now know where to go.
  • Chad Vader, brother of Darth, gives some humorous shout-outs to the cosplayers at Dragon Con.
  • I’m a big fan of gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello, so I really enjoyed this video and interview.

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Silver Agent Man

Astro City Special: Silver Agent #1

In Kurt Busiek’s epic “Astro City” series, the Silver Agent is one of the guys who ties everything together. He’s at least as important a character as the all-powerful Samaritan — he’s the symbol of how the Silver Age of comics fell before the Dark Ages that came afterwards. His backstory has him being accused of murdering a supervillain, put on trial, convicted, and executed — only for everyone to discover after his death that the villain had faked his death — the Silver Agent had been executed unjustly. And even worse, a time-traveling Silver Agent began to appear at various crisis points after his death — heroes and citizens begged him not to return to the past and his ultimate execution, but he refused, intent on sacrificing himself to preserve the timeline.

We finally get some more of his story. We start out in the distant future of the 43rd century, where the Agent had been pulled so he could assist the heroes of the future against a supercomputer called the iGod (snicker). Once they defeat it, using a code-bomb called a Tweet (snicker), the Agent remembers his past as a polio-crippled kid in a family full of hard-working public servants. Wanting to serve his community, he teaches himself to walk and gets a job as a mailman — not the most glamorous career, but something to help him feel he’s contributing. When he uncovers an attempt to rig an election, he tries to stop the crooks but gets chased into a cave, where he discovers a glowing silver machine that heals and empowers him, giving him the strength to fight off his attackers and become a hero. Can the Agent overcome the temptation to stay in the safe, comfortable future and avoid his fated death?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very cool story so far, with excellent dialogue, characterization, and humor, and fans of “Astro City” will definitely want to read this.

Mystery Society #2

While Anastasia Collins welcomes the Secret Skull, an undead adventurer, into the Mystery Society, Nick Hammond is in Area 51 rescuing a couple of genetically-engineered psychic little girls. Of course, once freed from captivity, they’ve got powerful enough abilities to knock the stuffing out of the government’s secret war machines. But once they get back to the Mystery Society’s headquarters, they learn that the government is already busy manufacturing false spin to turn Nick, Ana, and their associates into the bad guys. After that, the Society’s next new member literally falls from the sky — the brain of Jules Verne inside a steampunk robot body! And after that, the military attacks — is there any way to escape? Well, turns out the Mystery Society has its own flying saucer

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, the story is running all over the place, seemingly at random. But I’ll forgive a lot for the sake of flying saucers and the disembodied brain of Jules Verne..

Girl Comics #3

Final issue of this anthology series dedicated to women creators. Besides another edition of Colleen Coover’s endlessly awesome introduction, we get Marjorie Liu and Sara Pichelli with a cute story about Wolverine and Jubilee; Louise Simonson, June Brigman, and Rebecca Buchman with a story about the Power Pack taking on a babysitting job for the X-Men; Lea Hernandez bringing us a look at the latest battle between Wolverine and Magneto; Carla Speed McNeil inviting us all along for Kitty Pryde’s 21st birthday party; and a couple of stories about characters I don’t even recognize.

Verdict: I’ll thumbs-up it, even though I didn’t recognize all the characters, ’cause I did enjoy most of the stories here. Wow, this one was almost the All-Wolverine issue…

Today’s Cool Links:

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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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