Archive for Number of the Beast

Turbo Booster

Booster Gold #11

The timeline has gotten screwed up again. Because of a criminal time-traveler’s interference during a museum robbery by Killer Moth, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl have ceased to exist. Booster, Skeets, Rip Hunter, and Booster’s formerly-dead-but-now-alive twin sister Goldstar are on the case, and decide that what caused the chronal chaos was Batman capturing Killer Moth. So to make sure Moth gets away, Booster mugs him, dresses up in his costume, stages the heist, and knocks out the crimefighters. Unfortunately, Booster’s stunt has made Killer Moth look like an unstoppable criminal, which has pushed him into becoming a Batman-like defender of Gotham City’s underworld. How to fix things this time? Booster is going to have to masquerade as the Dark Knight himself. But that’s easier said than done…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Old-school Bat-folks! And Skeets gets to run around with little-bitty moth wings while Booster’s disguised as Killer Moth, so extra points for Teh Cute.

Number of the Beast #8

I missed the final issue of this miniseries a while back, but finally got it picked up. There’s a lot less emphasis on the Paladins and a lot more focus on the heroes of the Wildstorm Universe, including the Authority, Majestic, StormWatch, and the WildC.A.T.S. trying to fight off the army of clones of the High, the mega-powerful anti-hero. They manage to put a few of the clones down and lose a few heroes (most of them being stray members of the Paladins). In the end, the High clones fly up into the upper atmosphere and blow themselves up like bipedal nukes. Crisis over? Actually, no. A hundred nukes blowing up in the atmosphere? Now the planet’s off its axis, the moon has been destroyed, and 90% of Earth’s population is dead. Wow, way to completely shake up the Etch-a-Sketch, Wildstorm…

Verdict: I’m a bit up in the air about this one. I respect any comic company willing to change their universe so drastically, but Wildstorm was already pretty dark and morally-conflicted — how much darker can they make things? And it’s really hard for me to believe that the Authority, who’ve already saved the planet from gods, would manage to get skunked so severely by a bunch of doofy clones. And heck, I wish we’d seen some more of the Paladins. I liked those dudes…

Captain America #41

The Red Skull’s schemes march on. The fake Captain America is recaptured, and plans are made to assassinate a few presidential candidates. But the evil Dr. Faustus has decided to betray the Skull, help Sharon Carter escape, and lead the forces of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the Skull’s doorstep. And of course, Cap, the Falcon, the Black Widow, and more are on hand to help out.

Verdict: I gotta give this a thumbs down. It’s not that things are particularly convoluted. It’s more that Captain America doesn’t really do very much here. He gets a couple of great moments at the end of the issue, but by and large, it’s the bad guys’ scheming and betrayals that move all the action. Cap generally watches from the sidelines. And I’m really getting a mite tired of this unending storyline by now.

Jonah Hex #34

Hex has decided to reform. He buries his guns and his old Confederate uniform, builds a house, and avoid people so he won’t get in any trouble on their behalf. And naturally, a bunch of toughs ride into the nearby town to raise some hell. A pretty shopkeeper’s daughter tries to enlist Hex’s aid by bringing him pie (Amazingly, he discards the pie. Who can resist pie?!) and having sex with him (He discards the girl afterwards, too. The cad!). But Hex is a hard-hearted cuss, and he stays out of trouble up until he finds out that the girl and her family have been killed by the crooks. After that, there’s nothing left but shooting a few hellraising mooks in the face.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I like the concept of Hex trying to lie low, stay out of trouble, and lead a life without gunslinging, but the dialogue just plain cheesed me off. They made Jonah Hex talkative and poetic and downright dadgummed loquacious. People, people, people, you do not take a grim, taciturn gunslinger who’s basically modeled on Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name and turn him into a chatterbox. You just do not do that.

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Glory to Gog


Justice Society of America #17

Gog is roaming Africa, working miracles, making the desert fertile, and winning hundreds of devoted followers. The Justice Society and the Justice League are watching him warily, but even members of the JSA are considering him a global savior. He’s healed Damage’s face, cures Dr. Mid-Nite’s blindness, restores Starman’s sanity, and returns Power Girl to her original home on Earth-2. But we all know he’s really a bad guy, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Raising the stakes nicely, setting up some confrontations for the future. But I gotta say, it’s a real slow-moving issue.


Number of the Beast #7

The Paladins and the Authority fight with each other, while the government scrambles a bunch of super-soldiers cloned from the mega-powerful hero/villain named the High. Of course, the two teams eventually realize that they’re on the same side and retreat to the Authority’s extra-dimensional Carrier, but the High clones have figured out how to follow them.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I’ve been enjoying this series, but this was a fairly pointless issue. I hope things pick up for the grand finale.

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The New Astonishing X-Team


Astonishing X-Men #25

Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi take over this series from the departing Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. We lose Shadowcat and Colossus, but get Storm (and a few others to be named later) in return. Everyone has moved into their new HQ in San Francisco and is investigating the mysterious death of a guy who’s a kinda-sorta-not-really-a-mutant. And to discover the truth, the whole team is going to have to travel to Indonesia to visit an unregulated spaceship junkyard.

Verdict: Well, listen, first of all, there are a lot of cool moments in this one. I love Storm’s conversation with Emma Frost about wanting someone around she can argue with. I love the concept of a spaceship graveyard. I’m not as thrilled about the new “We’re kinda wearing street clothes so the cops don’t freak out about superheroes” uniforms. And the idea of Hank McCoy singing blues songs is just a bit weirder than I can handle. And this entire issue is oddly action-free. The dialogue is still darn nice, so I’m gonna give it a thumbs up. But I don’t know if I’ll be picking up any future issues.


Number of the Beast #6

The Paladins and their supervillain foes finally escape from their virtual reality prison after the High “kills” them all within the artificial world. They emerge angry into the Nevada desert and end up taking on the Authority, which should be a pretty short and bloody battle but probably won’t be, so they can keep the Paladins alive…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still enjoying it, but the last two issues will be the deciding factors in whether this entire series is ultimately good or bad…

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Missed a couple of these, so let’s catch up.


Number of the Beast #4

By now, it should be obvious to readers that the superheroes are trapped in a virtual reality world, though most of the heroes themselves remain clueless. From the looks of things, the heroes and villains have been stuck in VR rigs for the last 40 or 50 years, forced to relive an Armageddon scenario over and over and over. For what purpose? We haven’t been told that yet. But back in the real world, the High has regenerated enough to get free of his VR tube, and Dr. Sin is also roaming around free. The government has decided to shut down the project and terminate the heroes, and inside the program, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been loosed on the virtual world. Hotfoot, desperately trying to save as many lives as he can to make up for a lifetime of villainy, gets an arrow through his leg, courtesy of Pestilence, while Engine Joe gets War’s sword stuck through his chest.


Number of the Beast #5

Dr. Sin is running the VR facility, while the military tries to get inside. The High has been forced back inside the virtual world, and the superheroes have been told that he’s the Antichrist. On the bright side, that leaves him free to kill as many of the Paladins as he can, because when they die in the virtual world, they wake up in the real one. But do they still have time to save themselves and the other prisoners in the VR tubes before the government has them all killed?

Verdict: For both, thumbs up. Things seem to be progressing quite nicely. I like Hotfoot’s slow redemption, though that may get interrupted now that he’s out of the VR world. I do hope most of these characters survive so they can re-enter Wildstorm’s continuity — they’re too interesting to just get discarded.

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Numbers and Tangents


Number of the Beast #3

More people are dying, the oceans have turned to blood, and the members of the Paladins are accepting that this is the end of the world. A former superhero called the High has been mysteriously resurrected, accidentally blowing off Dr. Sin’s legs and later throwing him across the city. Supervillains are doing good deeds, Neanda the cavegirl accidentally lets slip that she’s not as primitive as she pretends, and the High discovers that he can’t leave the city. And it’s becoming more and more obvious that the city, the superheroes, and the supervillains are all actually in some sort of virtual reality environment run by the government.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m enjoying some of the character bits — Neanda losing her temper and reverting to normal speech is pretty good, and the scenes with Dr. Sin are stone solid winners.


Tangent: Superman’s Reign #3

Batman, Black Canary, and Black Lightning discover that Flash and Green Lantern have traveled to an alternate universe and start working plans to get them back. Meanwhile, in the Tangent Universe, the two Flashes, the DC Green Lantern, and the Tangent Joker go to the Tangent Superman’s fortress to rescue the Atom. They end up getting the Atom free, but John Stewart gets captured.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I think I’d enjoy this story more if moved a lot faster. I mean, a LOT faster.

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Movies and More


Iron Man

I waited ’til yesterday to see the “Iron Man” movie — I hate watching big blockbusters on their first weekend, mostly to avoid the crowds. And I really enjoyed it. Obviously, Robert Downey, Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark is probably one of the best comics-to-screen interpretations of a character ever, right up there with Christopher Reeve’s Superman, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, and Ron Perlman’s Hellboy. Jeff Bridges as supervillain/corporate-PR-whiz Obadiah Stane is also great fun to watch — but that’s kind of expected, because Jeff Bridges is a seriously fantastic actor. Gwyneth Paltrow and Terrence Howard are pretty good, but they’re really not that important to the movie. Stan Lee has the best cameo he’s ever had in a movie. The action is good, the superheroics are good, the humor is completely awesome.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Go see this movie, whether or not you like “Iron Man” comics. If you want to see an extra scene with Samuel L. Jackson, stay ’til the end of the credits, but if you wanna skip it, it’s not that important, or that great. Yeah, I went and said it, so there.


Batman #675

Weird issue. Bruce Wayne is dating a woman named Jezebel Jet — someone I’ve never heard of, but apparently, this has been going on for a while. Jezebel is sick of Bruce’s frequent disappearing acts, and she’s ready to call it off. Terrorists led by the Ten-Eyed Man attack and try to kidnap her, and Bruce completely unleashes on them.

Thumbs up, but just barely. The action parts of the story are good. But who the heck is Jezebel Jet, and why haven’t we seen her more often, if she’s really that important?


Green Lantern #30

In the re-telling of Green Lantern’s origin, Abin Sur crashes on Earth and gives former jet pilot Hal Jordan his power ring. Hal saves a crashing plane, he and Carol Ferris make eyes at each other, and we meet Hector Hammond.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but again, just barely. We already know the story of how Hal got his ring, and this re-telling isn’t showing us much that’s either new or interesting. On the other hand, it’s cool to see Hector Hammond before he got his oversized cranium.


Number of the Beast #2

The Paladins are in a panic because they can’t figure out what caused the disappearance of 90% of the city’s population. They suspect that the evil Dr. Sin had something to do with it, but everyone suspects the truth — the Rapture has occurred, and the end of the world is coming. And right on cue, a meteor storm comes up out of nowhere — fire from the heavens. A guy called the Eidolon visits Dr. Sin in the brig and starts telling him that none of this is real, it’s all happened before, someone BIG is coming. And those government agents in their high-tech HQ are up to no good.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mysteries galore! Weird religious references! Sinister conspiracies! Love it!

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Six Hundred Threescore and Six


Number of the Beast #1

Well, that’s an ominous title and cover, isn’t it? This is part of a new crossover series in the Wildstorm Universe, with a “new” superteam taking the lead role. The team is called the Paladins, including Aeronaut, Engine Joe, the Thrush, Falconette, Wallflower, Johnny Ray-Gun, the Midnight Rider, Neandra, the Black Anvil, Mago, and Tumbleweed, and though this is the first time we’ve seen them, their backstory says they’re the top supergroup in the newest version of the Wildstorm Universe.

Anyway, the Paladins beat up some supervillains and fight off an invasion from the excellently-named Saucerlings from Saturn’s Moons. But sandwiching all of this is the really weird, disturbing stuff. There are a couple of low-level flunkies for the government, and they wear patches on their uniforms that look like an American flag with a stylized “666” in place of the stars. They dump a barrel-full of liquified human — actually a barrel-full of liquified human who’s still alive — into a storage tube. And much later, they start making people around the city vanish into thin air… by pushing a button marked “Rapture.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m a big fan of Chris Sprouse’s artwork — really, who isn’t? And the story mixes Silver Age superheroics with extraordinarily creepy religious horror. I hope it stays fun.


Wonder Woman #19

On the Khund homeworld, Wonder Woman meets up with a Green Lantern named Procanon Kaa who wants the mysterious Ichor Ship to destroy the warlike Khunds. Diana has to fight him down and simultaneously persuade him to embrace a peaceful solution. But the Khunds plan to destroy their own planet to save face for being defeated by the Ichor. Can Wondy get Kaa to rediscover his compassion? Can she stop the Khund plan for self-genocide? Can she get the Ichor to leave the Khund homeworld?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I don’t much like Bernard Chang’s skinny version of Wondy, but it’s a minor quibble. I do like Gail Simone’s characterization of Wonder Woman as someone who knows so much about battle that she can beat a guy weilding the most powerful weapon in the universe but who’s willing to take a beat-down for the cause of peace. Dude, that’s hardcore. Not sure why we really needed Etta Candy along for this ride, but I enjoyed the last couple of pages with Kaa and the Khund general’s daughter, Kho.


Green Lantern Corps #23

A batch of Green Lanterns, including Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner, are selected to track and recover a bunch of Sinestro Corps rings. A new yellow ring is delivered to Duel Eknham, a deformed alien who looks like a conjoined twin and has two warring personalities, both of whom love to kill people. And Mongul sets up some evil plans that include collecting a whole bunch of yellow power rings and big sackful of parasitic Black Mercy plants.

Thumbs up. The crazy siamese twin with the dueling personalities would probably make a cool villain. Some of the scenes at the beginning of the comic where various GLs are summoned to duty are pretty funny — Iolande, a member of her planet’s royal family, is vainly attempting to address her homeworld’s ruling council when she’s dragged away; the robotic Stel doesn’t get a chance to make extensive repairs to his body; and Guy Gardner stays sound asleep even as his ring pulls him to the Guardians.

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