Archive for Wild Cards

Six of One…


Secret Six #2

While Catman distracts Batman with a big fight up and down Gotham’s skyscrapers, Deadshot, Scandal, Ragdoll, and Bane break into Alcatraz so they can break Tarantula out. Of course, things don’t go too smoothly, especially after super-strong trustee Mammoth shows up to stir up trouble. And Junior, the monstrously creepy crime boss who lives in a trunk, crawls out into the open just long enough to offer the world’s metavillains a bounty of $10 million for each one of the Six.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This book is so, so, so very wonderful. Action galore, awesome dialogue galore. Ragdoll is hilarious, Deadshot is hilarious, Bane is hilarious. Even Batman is kinda hilarious. Batman eats take-out burritos. Mammoth gets hit in his ornament-things. The only person here who isn’t hilarious is Junior. He’s just scary and creepy. Okay, he’s a little bit hilarious. You should be reading this book — it’s big fun.


Wonder Woman #25

The Queen of Fables is back, attacking Wonder Woman in Hollywood because she believes Wondy is Snow White. The Queen tries to trap Wondy in her vision for a “Wonder Woman” movie — all rotten dialogue, skimpy costumes, terrible history, and insulting plot twists. Eventually, we get a face-to-face battle between Diana and the Queen, and luckily, the planned movie gets put into turnaround.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one is a blast, at least partly because of Wondy’s mortified embarrassment about how bad the film of her life is going to be. All the movie-related banter is also pretty enjoyable. The Queen of Fables is a good villain — it’s too bad she isn’t used more often. She also gets the best line in the book: “I will feed you in pieces to three separate bears!” Something tells me Gail Simone had a lot of fun writing this one.


George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call #4

It’s been a while since the last issue of this one — I figured I’d missed ’em all. Alex is a new ace — one of the lucky few gifted with superpowers by an alien xenovirus that kills or disfigures almost everyone who contracts it. In an attempt to find Kira, a recently disfigured joker, who’s been kidnapped, Alex has enlisted the help of the infamous Croyd “The Sleeper” Crenson, an ace who gets new powers every time he goes to sleep and who’s prone to abusing uppers to the point of murderous psychosis. Meanwhile, the Jokertown Clinic’s counselor, Fallon, has started stealing and releasing the “Black Trump” virus, which is designed to reverse the effects of the Wild Card virus — unfortunately, it kills as many as it cures. Will Alex and Croyd be able to find Fallon before he kills again?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m a sucker for the “Wild Cards” series, sure, but I’m also enjoying the story a lot. Croyd was always one of my favorite characters in the novels, so it’s nice to see him getting a nice starring role in this one.

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Red Hot!


Hulk #4

If you’re looking for a comic with subtlety and savoir-faire, this is not the book for you. I mean, lookit this:


Any comic that starts out with the evil red Hulk socking Uatu the Watcher in the jaw is, well, the type of thing that’s gonna make me giggle all freakin’ day long.

Plot? Red Hulk and Green Hulk fight. S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Clay Quartermain is found dead. We get a pretty definitive answer as to who the Red Hulk is. (And I was riiiiiight! Everyone do the herky dance! Ooo! Yeah! Shake it, baby! Yeah!) And we get a visit from the only other superhero who might have a chance of putting the Red Hulk down for the count.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hulk battles, Uatu punching, and Scott being riiiiiight about the Hulk’s identity equals out to big fun. You know what this calls for, people? That’s right. This calls for Cameo.


George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call #3

Alex is an electric-powered ace who wishes he were either dead or normal. Simon is his best friend, a ridiculous horndog who’s acquired the power to teleport through mirrors. Kira used to be the girl Alex loved from afar, but she’s been turned into a deformed joker — and she’s vanished mysteriously. And the dog-masked ace who killed a nurse at the Jokertown clinic and stole a batch of the trump virus is now secretly dosing jokers with the trump virus — but the trump kills more often than it cures. When Alex goes looking for the infamous Croyd Crenson, will he be able to help, or will the immortal superpowered speedfreak just make things worse?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is rocking forward, as the dog-mask’s plans become more clear, the mystery deepens, and the action picks up the pace. Alex is getting the hang of his powers, and Croyd looks like he’s heading for his usual oh-so-familiar amped-up psychosis. It’s also pretty cool how the cured jokers are addressed. Good fun, and worth picking up.


Gemini #2

Last issue, Gemini got his head blown clean off… but hey, he’s got a healing factor, so it heals right back. Unfortunately, with his mask gone, his government monitors can no longer track him, and he can see his own face. How bad could that be? Well, since he’s basically a controlled split personality whose two identities are completely unaware of each other, it’s started him questioning who he is, why he’s never seen his own face, and whether something’s wrong with him. His government trackers enlist another government hero named Lynx to deactivate him. But there’s another threat coming that has the ability to decommission him once and for all.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun story, great action, lots of intrigue. This Jay Faerber cat does pretty good writin’.


Green Lantern #32

We continue with this flashback retelling of Hal Jordan’s origin. We see creepazoid Hector Hammond get his powers, we see Hal get permission to fly planes for Ferris Air, we meet Sinestro for the first time, and we see the demonic Atrocitus start tracking down the man who will ultimately found the Black Lanterns.

Verdict: I dunno, all this stuff is kinda cool, but most GL fans already knew it already. Sure, you can say it’s a good way to introduce new readers to the characters, but this seems like the very long and inefficient way to do it. And I can’t keep thinking that maybe we could be reading some new adventures of Green Lantern sometime?


Teen Titans #60

The final showdown between the Teen Titans and the Terror Titans is, well, a bit of a let-down. Most of the bad guys don’t really put up much of a fight. The only one with any real skillz is Clock King, who can see far enough into the future to keep anyone from laying a glove on him. Ravager almost kills one of the bad guys, but is prevented by Wonder Girl. Clock King realizes that Ravager is a precog, too, so he asks her to join him. She turns him down, and the rest of the Titans make their getaway. But Robin and Wonder Girl decide they can’t have a potential killer on their team, so Rose gets the heave-ho and goes back to the Clock King. Bummer. And it means it’s time for yet another team membership revamp. Bleaaachhh.

Verdict: Most of it’s actually pretty good, but I think I’m going to give it a thumbs down. Rose Wilson was developing into a very interesting character, and I’m really not thrilled about removing the team’s conflict-magnet. And another team membership revamp? Bleaaachhh.

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Thunder Lizards and War Machines


The War that Time Forgot #1

A little background on this one. Way back in 1960’s “Star Spangled War Stories,” Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru came up with a new formula of stories for the venerable old war comic — namely, they decided to pit WWII-era American soldiers against Triassic-era dinosaurs. All the action would take place on a mysterious island in the middle of the Pacific, where the soldiers would end up, often in the midst of a plane crash or shipwreck. Once there, they had to fight their way through hordes of angry sauropods until they were rescued or made their escape.

In this new version, we follow Lt. Carson, a P-40 pilot who winds up stranded on the time-lost island. And he’s not the only person there — some of his fellow castaways include old DC characters like Firehair, Tomahawk, and Enemy Ace! After we get the introductions out of the way, there’s a great deal of fighting against prehistoric monsters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Dinosaurs! But can they keep this going over 12 whole issues?


George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call #2

Alex tries to adjust to the fact that he’s become an electrically powered ace, and that his family hates him because he survived the Wild Card Virus, and his little brother didn’t. Alex’s friend Simon has also become an ace, with the ability to teleport between mirrors, and Kira, the girl Alex had loved from afar, is now a joker with a caterpillar-like body. Meanwhile, Croyd Crenson is trying to discover who killed his nurse friend, but has to keep away from the cops and the Jokertown Clinic’s orderlies. He and Alex have a heart-to-heart on the clinic’s roof while Mike is considering suicide. And the mystery here is deepening — Kira has vanished, under possibly violent circumstances. And why does Mr. Fallon, the clinic’s “transition counselor,” seem so creepy?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still a big fan of the “Wild Cards” series, and this feels like a return to the series’ classic form.

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Aces High, Jokers Wild


George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call #1

I pretty much quit reading comics from junior high to sometime in my last year in grad school. But in my first year in college, waaaay back in ’87, I started picking up the “Wild Cards” shared-world novels edited by George R.R. Martin.

It was a grim and gritty bunch of sci-fi/superhero novels with a fairly nasty premise — the Earth gets hit by an alien xenovirus designed to rewrite the human genetic code. When people catch this “wild card” virus, 90% of them die horribly and painfully, their bodies mutating to death — this becomes known as “drawing the black queen.” Nine percent of the infected survive, but are gruesomely disfigured — they become known as jokers. The lucky one-percenters are called aces, and they are gifted with superpowers. Luckily, the virus isn’t contagious — you only get it if you’re born to parents who’ve been exposed to the virus or if you stumble across some active spores. And a lot of people who’ve been exposed to the virus are never affected — some folks can be carriers their whole lives without the virus ever activating.

Most of the jokers gravitate toward a New York slum called Jokertown, and they’re pretty universally despised for their deformities. But lots of normal people, or nats, like to visit Jokertown, sometimes wearing Halloween masks, to beat up jokers or just to enjoy the nasty side of town. Aces have things better, but not many people trust them either.

Enough backstory? Good.

In this first issue, we’ve got several things happening at once. First, Croyd Crenson, a long-lived ace known as the Sleeper, awakes from one of his month-long naps with his usual all-new powers and appearance. As usual, he’s ravenously hungry and looking to score some amphetamines to keep him awake when he starts to get drowsy again. Unfortunately, his usual supplier, a pretty nurse in the Jokertown Clinic, is killed by a thief in a dog mask who is able to walk through walls. The killer steals several doses of the “trump virus,” a treatment that can sometimes cure the wild card.

Meanwhile, in a high school in Colorado, a jock named Alex is a first-hand witness to a wild card outbreak during a science fair. Among scores of other students, he watches his kid brother die but ends up manifesting his own electrical-powered ace.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, I’m biased because the “Wild Card” novels helped sustain me through four years of college. So reading about old favorite characters like the Sleeper is really great fun for me. And if you like thoroughly gross stuff, the outbreak in the high school has a bunch of nicely sloppy transformations, including a guy who starts growing fingers out of his mouth and mouths in his stomach, a couple of people who turn into bugs, a guy who starts to change into a tree, and a teacher who actually vomits up his own spinal cord. The Wild Card virus is not a fun disease to get.

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