Archive for Witchfinder

House of Bane

Secret Six #34

After the last storyarc sent the team to Hell, this issue is a much-welcomed rest break. The serial killer who’s kidnapped Scandal’s girlfriend Liana gets his meeting with the Six, and I don’t think it’s a big spoiler to reveal that it doesn’t turn out well for him. Scandal reconciles with Ragdoll, Jeannette sings an old Irish ballad, Bane goes on a date, and King Shark eats a turkey. But we’re warned that, as always seems to be the case with this book, more bad things are on the horizon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Awesome dialogue, great action, wonderful art. Bane’s date is a bucket of pure win. King Shark is awesome, even though he’s only in one or two scenes. It’s sad, it’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s profane, it’s awesome.

How to improve this series: I’m not real sure you could improve on this. Gail Simone is one of DC’s best writers, and this is one of their best series. If they don’t preserve this for the Reboot, they’re completely insane.

Avengers Academy #14.1

What’s “14.1” mean? Well, Marvel’s trying to make sure there are some “0.1” issues for their series, to give new readers a chance to jump on board — so this issue is, in part, meant to be an introduction to the series for those who aren’t familiar with it.

After the Academy students battle the oh-so-1970s-weird Ruby Thursday, they decide they want to see how other young metahumans who were tortured by Norman Osborn turned out — Finesse quickly tracks down a kid named Jeremy Briggs, a super-genius matter-transmuter who is now running a very profitable chemical megacorp. He introduces them to some other former “students” of Osborn’s — a kid who used to turn into a monster whose transformations are now held in check with medicine; a healer keeping people healthy in third-world nations; and a cold-controller who, unfortunately, has just been killed trying to stop the Wendigo. And Briggs has an ulterior motive for talking to the Academy kids — he wants them to quit the hero-or-villain business and come to work for him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a depressing little story, but it’s very well-told. Dialogue and action are good, and the characterization is excellent. I hope we get to see more of Briggs in the future — he makes a great foil for the team.

How to improve this series: Ya know what I think I’d like the most for this title? A new costume for Hazmat. I hate the way the helmet hides most of her face — makes it so hard to get anything but a vague impression of her emotions and reactions.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #5

While Morgan tries to hold off a horde of undead bandits, Sir Edward ends up getting gutshot, and then seemingly killed by the witch Eris, who is bartering souls of Christians for colossal mystic power. But with one hero surrounded by unkillable zombies and the other shot full of lead and sitting in the Paiute land of the dead, is there any way to stop Eris?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A good end to the series. Absolutely gorgeous art by John Severin and Dave Stewart. Nicely suspenseful, too — it really looks like Sir Edward and Morgan are done for near the end.

How to improve this series: Can’t think of much you could do to fix this. It could’ve been an issue or two shorter, but that would’ve shortchanged the great interpersonal stuff between Sir Edward and Morgan that really made this series fun. We also could’ve found out more about Eris’ motivations and the weird mysteries behind Isaac. But that’s nitpicking.

The DC Reboot

In a way, I don’t want to say very much about this — all we really have to go on is DC’s press releases. There’s no way to tell yet what is going to work and what isn’t going to work and whether it’s going to be a good thing or a bad thing.

But I am not looking forward to this.

Part of it is that DC has tried reboots before — Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis — and they never last. Before long, readers and creators start jonesing for “classic” comics, and everything goes back to the way it was before. This one will be no different.

What else? I hate the costumes, and that’s something DC really pushed hard. Look at that Justice League cover above. The costumes are not good. Superman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern all have corny pop-up collars, and Wonder Woman’s choker is essentially the same kind of collar. And what the heck are those things on Flash’s and Cyborg’s chins? I don’t know a thing about art or clothing design, but those costumes look like garbage — and that’s what you get when you have one guy — Jim Lee, in this case — design all the costumes. His design preferences creep into everything so they all look alike. And these will be the first things that get discarded after the reboot. I mean, look at ’em. Superman looks like a complete dork. And look up the costume design for Green Arrow — it’s a direct copy from the “Smallville” TV series. A series that has been cancelled and which, honestly, was never all that popular in the first place. The costumes are bad, bad, bad.

I’ll admit I’m looking forward to some of the titles. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang working on “Wonder Woman”? I’ll be buying that. But most of the others are just not filling me with very much enthusiasm. Gail Simone writing “Firestorm”? Okay, but why is she being saddled with Ethan Van Sciber as co-writer? It’s an insult to Simone’s writing skills, to be honest. Geoff Johns — a writer I’m rapidly coming to think of as DC’s version of Brian Michael Bendis — is writing too many series. Dan DiDio is writing another, and I’m pretty sure y’all know I’m not a fan of that guy. I don’t trust DiDio or Johns to do good work on these — their instincts tend to lie more with DC’s previous tired gimmicks of Silver Age worship and pointless, over-the-top violence.

The announcement of the reboot threw retailers into a panic, thanks to DC’s decision to release digitial editions of comics on the same day as they release the print versions. That’d be the equivalent of movie studios letting you rent DVDs on the same day they released the movies in theaters — and it had a lot of retailers worried that lots of readers would quit buying from stores in favor of buying comics for their iPads. On the other hand, DC wants to charge the same prices for print and digital comics, which has digital readers scratching their heads, because no one else charges as much for digital as they do for print. So DC managed to alienate both retailers and digital comics fans at the same time.

Another thing that bugs me is this seems more like a publicity stunt than something that’s going to lead to long-term increases in readership. There’s not much here that seems to be designed to bring in new readers — just a lot of stuff to make current comics fans angry. Sometimes, it seems like that’s all that DC or Marvel know how to do — stir up buzz by doing stuff to upset their current readers. Sure, it gets coverage in USA Today, but media coverage doesn’t necessarily lead to more readers, and that’s what DC needs.

And ya know, I’ve already gone on for a lot longer than I meant to on this topic. So I’ll reiterate — I don’t like the idea of the DC Reboot. It’s a bad idea at a bad time, and I worry it’s going to do long-term damage to the comics industry as a whole. I hope I’m wrong, of course… but I worry I might be right.

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Give Me the Brain

iZombie #13

Gwen, Ellie, and Spot are on top of the world — they’ve solved a Scooby-Doo-esque case and have been invited to dine with Amon, the wealthy mummy who’s taken an interest in Gwen’s welfare. Amon tells them about Galatea’s dire plans for the world, Horatio ends up stuck on his own as the lone monster hunter in town, and Spot gets stuck in a bad place during a zombie outbreak. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a new group of characters called the Dead Presidents — government operative with their own strange supernatural abilities.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The entire story was great, but I really enjoyed the Dead Presidents. I suspect they’re being prepped for a mini or ongoing series of their own…

B.P.R.D.: The Dead Remembered #2

Pyrokinetic teenager Liz Sherman is on her first “mission” with the Bureau — basically tagging along with Professor Bruttenholm while he investigates a low-level haunting. But she’s stumbled onto a much more terrifying haunting in the woods. Liz meets a local boy she likes and remembers how her new powers ended up killing her family. So what’s the secret of the haunting in the forest, and why does it react so strongly to Liz?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m loving the artwork here. The dialogue is good, the story is advancing nicely, but I really am jazzed about the work Karl Moline, Andy Owens, and Dave Stewart are doing with the art.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #4

Sir Edward and Morgan set off to find an abandoned mine that Edward has dreamed about. They argue along the way about Edward’s hard-headed attitude about magic, but as they explore the mine, they discover that Eris has left a nasty surprise for them — a bunch of missing — and dead — churchgoers who have been raised by the witch as zombies. While they escape, Eris has more trouble in mind for them. Can they escape — and do they have allies they weren’t expecting?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The best thing about this series has been the outstanding characterization. Sir Edward, Morgan, and Isaac are all very strong characters, and it makes reading about them great fun.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Just one link today — haven’t had a lot of time for websurfing lately… But I thought this was a really excellent essay on the severe racial problems afflicting both DC and Marvel. The folks in charge think diversity gets in the way of reviving the Silver Age characters that few modern readers really care about — and ultimately, their lack of commitment to any kind of diversity puts the comics industry way, way in the back of the pack. And as long as the people running DC and Marvel feel free to claim that that 99% of superheroes should be white, there’s not going to be very much progress made.

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Flash in the Pan

The Flash #10

Well, the motorcycle-riding speedster Hot Pursuit is really an alternate-universe version of Barry Allen himself. He warns that some kind of time anomaly is about to drastically alter history and reveals that Barry Allen himself is the generator of the Speed Force. Kid Flash shows up, and Barry blows him off because, well, no one knows. And former police lab scientist Patty Spivot returns to visit Barry and apparently try to start some kind of romantic triangle with Barry’s wife, Iris.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Holy bananas, this is rotten stuff. They’re trying to get all the pieces in line for the upcoming “Flashpoint” crossover, but this really is coming across very ineptly. I’m especially irritated by the “Barry is the source for the Speed Force” thing, ’cause it’s just thrown out there almost at random, which is a really poor way to do a retcon.

Batgirl #20

Batgirl and Proxy are trying to track a shadowy group employing Slipstream, a technology-based superspeedster who plans on a major heist. And it turns out that Slipstream was actually one of Stephanie’s classmates. So how does a college student with some Batarangs beat a speedster?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great dialogue, jokes, and action. Do I need to keep telling y’all this is DC’s best superhero comic?

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #13

Thor and Valkyrie bring Nova along on a trip to Asgard, where they’re going to meet up with an Asgardian soldier who has been punished for the last several thousand years for a failure in battle. Nova points out that this is a pretty harsh punishment for a single failure, which angers Thor and amuses Valkyrie. What’s going to happen when the three of them finally catch up to the condemned warrior?

Verdict: Thumbs down, mostly because this series has been the all-Thor-Valkirie-and-Nova show lately, and I’m getting bored with that. C’mon, Marvel, I know there’s a “Thor” movie coming out, but give it a rest, okay?

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #3

Sir Edward and Kaler dispose of the undead Mr. Glaren by burning him in a campfire and are soon afterwards set upon by some sort of demonic hound — and Edward is saved by Isaac, the simple-minded Paiute Indian. Edward and Isaac exchange gifts — Edward reads an old letter to Isaac, who gives the Englishman a bracelet. While all this is going on, the witch Eris is continuing to work her influence over the local Indian tribes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m loving John Severin’s artwork. I’m also getting a charge out of the rest of the story. The dialogue is wonderful, of course, but I think the most fun is the small moments — the letter Edward reads to Isaac doesn’t seem to be any earthshattering thing, but it’s a nice moment anyway.

Today’s Cool Links:

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The Last Barbarian

Joe the Barbarian #8

It’s been much, much too long since we saw the last issue of this, so let’s review. Joe is a normal kid in the modern world. His dad’s dead, his mom is distant, the bank is about to foreclose on their house. Joe is bullied by other kids, and he’s diabetic. It’s been too long since he had anything to eat, and he’s now hallucinating that he’s in a fantasy world based on his own house, where all the citizens are based on his toys, the land is under attack by the forces of King Death, and Joe is acclaimed as a mythical hero called, ominously, the Dying Boy. But is he really hallucinating? Or is this all happening on another level? Will Joe be able to make it downstairs to the kitchen to get a soda, or will he and the fantasy world he imagines die a dark, cold death?

Well, last issue, Joe was on the verge of getting his much-needed dose of sugar when he lost his soda and fell into the basement. Now Joe is injured, trapped in the realm of King Death himself. His pet rat-turned-knightly-protector Jack is on hand to help, but even his fighting spirit falters when King Death raises his long-dead brothers to fight against them. Smoot and Zyxy show up to help, and King Death’s forces suffer a revolt from within. But only Joe can save the day. Will he be able to bring light and life back to the twilight fantasy world? Will he get a soda? Can he find a way to ensure the future of both the fantasy world and his real life?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one ends on a pretty epic note. Great writing by Grant Morrison and even more beautiful artwork by Sean Murphy. If you haven’t read this one before now, you may as well wait for the trade paperback, but you definitely will want to read the whole thing.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #2

Sir Edward gets to know his guide, the frontier scout Kaler, and his friend, a crazy Paiute named Isaac. Kaler warns him that he shouldn’t bother going back to the town, or they’ll kill him. But Sir Edward is still intent on tracking down Lord Glaren, so Kaler agrees to try to help. They meet up with Eris, a pretty blonde woman who preaches a weird combination of Christianity and witchcraft to the Indians. After Kaler reveals that he and Isaac have been reading fictionalized accounts of Sir Edward’s adventures in dime novels, Grey recounts his own origin story — as a boy, he tracked down, was injured by, and killed a werewolf, and was saved from the curse of lycanthropy by a combination of faith and science. With all that out of the way, and with a mysterious gunman on their trail, will Grey and Kaler be able to track down Lord Glaren?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots and lots of stuff packed into this one, and I really wished for even more. It’s a great story so far, mysterious and spooky and action-packed. Definitely looking forward to the rest of this series.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales

Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #2

Well, Hellboy is trapped in a basement with a monster that’s part zombie, part ghost, part nursery-rhyme-quoting little girl, and he’s not doing so well. The monster can knock him around easily, but she turns insubstantial everytime Hellboy throws a punch. Meanwhile, the vampire who created her and turned her big sister into a vamp gets mad when he finds out that Hellboy killed the older vampire, so he sets a horde of zombies after a couple of investigating B.P.R.D. agents. Can Hellboy figure out a way to stop all this? Or is his usual punch-first-ask-questions-later methodology going to release the monster into the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely done story that flips between punchathon violent to understated creepy. Best place to find stories like that is, as usual, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy stories.

iZombie #10

Gwen finally goes to see Tricia Nakagawa — a girl who knew her when she was still alive — to let her know that her deceased mother still loves her — and discovers a secret she was not prepared for. Spot discovers that Ellie’s new talent of shoehorning her soul into other people’s bodies might be useful for helping his grandfather. Horatio and Diogenes have some serious trouble with the vampires. And Galatea’s plans get progressively nastier.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But this is a series that’s starting to look like it’s mired down in soap-opera plot developments that never lead to any resolution — it’d be nice to see some plot threads start getting tied down here and there.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1

Edward Grey, former Witchfinder for the British government, has gone walkabout in the American West. He stumbles into a mostly lawless town with a destroyed church. He ends up gunning down a lot of the locals in a saloon gunfight and gets escorted out of town by a frontier scout — who probably just saved him from getting beaten to death by the rest of the folks in town. The scout reveals some of the town’s past — a mysterious incident that cause much of the population to vanish, leaving only some sort of magic circle etched into the floor of the church. So what’s behind all this? And why do so many people want Sir Edward dead?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice beginning for a new storyline — and I like the idea of moving the very British Witchfinder into a more rough-and-tumble environment.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Strange Sports Stories


Strange #1

Stephen Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme, but that gives him the freedom to go out an enjoy a baseball game. Well, by “enjoy,” I really mean “try to keep everyone in the ballpark from being sucked into Hell, thanks to a decades-old deal-with-a-demon and a bunch of demon-possessed baseball players.” And worse, Strange doesn’t have the towering mystic might he used to, forcing him to rely on Casey Kinmont, the granddaughter of the ballclub owner. Casey has some magical talent, but no training — can Strange talk her through the spells he needs her to cast? And if that isn’t enough, will he be able to score a home run against a bunch of demonic ballplayers?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s worth the price just for the image of Dr. Strange, decked out in a grubby jacket and ballcap, hair messed up, and a plate of nachos splattered all over his shirt, dishing out trash talk, and bellowing at the umps. Clearly, more superheroes should go to baseball games.


Batman and Robin #6

Well, I think that’s the most colorful cover I’ve ever seen on the cover of any Batman comic, except maybe for the old “Rainbow Batman” cover from the ’60s.

Well, the Red Hood (better known as Jason Todd) and his sidekick Scarlet have captured Batman and Robin, tied ’em up, stripped ’em to their skivvies, and set up a webcam to reveal their secret identities to the world. Unfortunately, that means Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne aren’t available to help when Red Hood and Scarlet get ambushed by a flamboyant and violently insane assassin named Eduardo Flamingo, who very easily trashes both of them. And even after Batman and Robin make their escape and join the battle, Flamingo still manages to pitch Batman off a building and shoot Robin several times in the back. How will they stop Flamingo? And is there any hope left for Jason and Scarlet?

Verdict: Mostly a thumbs up. The stakes are entertainingly raised with Damian’s gunshot wounds and possible paralysis — oh, we know it won’t be permanent, since Grant Morrison’s previous story about Damian’s future reveals that he sells his soul for healing powers. The possible end of Scarlet’s storyarc is very interesting, but I’m looking forward to hearing what actually becomes of her. Damian’s stupid gay slur about Flamingo’s costume is, well, stupid, in more ways than one. But if any kid deserved to get shot in the back multiple times after doing the “sneering homophobic teen buttwipe” thing, it’s definitely Damian.


Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #5

Grey and the Captain have gone to Bedlam to seek the aid of a mad sorcerer named Martin Gilfryd to stop the rampage of the demonic horror terrorizing London. Gilfryd manages to use the monster’s ancient bones to give it back a physical body, meaning Sir Edward finally has a chance to kill the thing. But even with the creature destroyed, there are still many dangers and perils ahead. Can Sir Edward survive them all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, creepy magic, great suspense, and lots of weird stuff. A bit of a heartbreaking ending, but it’s a perfect fit for this overall grim story.

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Love and Monsters


Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #4

Sir Edward, the Captain, and Miss Wolf have been cornered by the vampiric demon, but they still manage to drive it out of the defiled church. Grey gives chase, but runs into a bunch of mooks from the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ray, an Egypt-focused magical secret society, which plans to capture the monster with a bunch of guys armed with electrically-charged harpoons and knockout gas. That doesn’t really turn out that well for them, what with the blood and the murder and the screaming and the dismemberments. Later, Grey gets to spend some quiet time with Miss Wolf, recounting his own past and the less-than-honorable history of the last man to bear the “Witchfinder” title. And the investigation into the monster’s origins leads Sir Edward and the Captain to Bedlam Hospital, where they meet a man who should be familiar to readers of recent “B.P.R.D.” comics…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice creepy fun. Beautifully cinematic artwork by Ben Stenbeck, too. This story has giant, blood-soaked monsters, steampunk weaponry, zombie puritans, madhouses, and drinking beer with pretty girls — it’s a winner in every possible way.


The Unwritten #6

Tom Taylor has been accused of a horrific mass murder in Frankenstein’s castle — otherwise known as his boyhood home — and he’s now going to prison in a town called Roncevaux. That’s the setting of “The Song of Roland,” an epic poem written in the 12th century about the massacre of part of Charlemagne’s army by the Saracens because their commander, Roland, is too proud to summon the rest of the army for help. For a book focused on the uncomfortable connections between literature and the real world, that’s not too ominous, is it? Tom slowly becomes accustomed to prison life, Lizzie Hexam looks for her next orders in random books in a bookstore, and the prison warden, a dedicated fan of the “Tommy Taylor” novels, tries to deal with his feelings about locking up someone he can’t help seeing as the hero of his favorite books. And finally, Tommy meets a new, heavily scarred ally…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wow, this story keeps getting better and better. I wasn’t expecting a big mixture of prison drama and high French literature, but this comic actually pulls it off. And there’s a really cool moment with the hardnosed warden reading his children bedtime stories.

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The Bad Guys Bounce Back


Batman and Robin #4

We briefly meet a villain called the Lightning Bug, just before he gets cornered and killed by Gotham’s newest vigilantes, the Red Hood and Scarlet. Scarlet used to be the innocent kidnap victim disfigured by Professor Pyg’s doll mask, but she’s now joined the Red Hood to treat criminals a whole heck of a lot more lethally than they’ve usually been treated in the past. We get scenes of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne investigating stuff at yet another GCPD charity event and meeting a mysterious masked guy named Oberon Sexton, the Gravedigger; we see Sasha worrying about whether the doll mask will ever come off; and the Penguin attends a meeting of criminal kingpins, as a masked villain named Santo warns that an assassin named, believe it or not, the Flamingo is coming to get rid of Batman for them. Of course, the Red Hood and Scarlet show up to kill some more crooks — when Batman and Robin arrive to stop them, the next stage of the confrontation is set up.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but it’s not as good as it could’ve been. Everything seems a bit muddy and unclear, including a odd couple of pages of Batman and Robin on a stakeout. I am enjoying the characterization of Sasha and the clues being dropped about the identity of the Red Hood. I’m not sure that Grant Morrison will go with the seemingly obvious choice for Red Hood’s secret identity, but if it’s not the original Red Hood, I suspect a lot of people will be disappointed…


JSA vs. Kobra #4

Finally, some other characters besides Mr. Terrific, Power Girl, Flash, and Green Lantern get some time in the spotlight! Kobra is continuing their seemingly random worldwide attacks, but Mr. Terrific thinks he has them figured out. He gets Jakeem Thunder and the Thunderbolt to teach him everything they can about magic, and they track Kobra to the Rock of Eternity, where he chips a stone off the statue of Hatred from the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man. A JSA squad attacks, but Kobra is able to use the powerful magical energy of the Rock of Eternity strike against the Thunderbolt, and he’s able to escape. Still, it’s not a total loss — the JSA have captured his most trusted confidant.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s finally starting to get a bit better. There’s still a ton of emphasis on Mr. Terrific, but it’s great that the much-neglected Jakeem gets a few moments to shine, and Stargirl gets to take on the roll of Team Badass, which we don’t get to see her do very often. Still, the plot is far from perfect — I’m hoping it all comes together in the last two issues.


Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #3

Sir Edward is able to scare off the demon, but at the cost of one of the Captain’s assistants. Miss Wolf, the medium, has learned the location of the monster’s bones from her spirit guide — a quick diving expedition in the Thames locates the bones, but to use them to dispel the beast, they’ll have to track it down first. Miss Wolf leads Grey and the others to a storefront church, where they find a whole congregation of corpses — the monster disguised itself as an angel and fed off of their blood. The church’s minister is able to recount the monster’s origin, but while their attending to him in the back room, they accidentally leave the case with the bones in the main sanctuary… and of course, that’s when the monster picks its moment to attack.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely chilling and creepy, with outstanding suspense and beautifully crafted artwork.

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Raiding the Booster Club


Booster Gold #23

The award for most eye-catching cover of the week goes to this issue of “Booster Gold.” When was the last time you saw DC or Marvel do a photo cover on one of their mainstream books? It don’t happen often. (And no, no idea who the cover model is. Might be Dan Jurgens’ wife, maybe? Or daughter… How old is Dan Jurgens anyway?) (UPDATE: Luke in comments informs us that the cover model is Blair Butler from G4TV’s “Attack of the Show.” Feh, you media-savvy youngsters! FEH!)

Aaaaanyway, Booster and Skeets have completely failed to save the Teen Titans, so they take the late-arriving Raven on a trip into the future (How’s that supposed to keep the Titans from getting killed? Quiet, you!) to see what the ultimate result is — the four-eyed interstellar demon Trigon the Terrible takes over the world and kills the JLA! It’s all part of a scheme by the evil time-traveling Black Beetle and his mysterious benefactor to do, um, something evil. Meanwhile, Booster, Skeets, Raven, and Rip Hunter meet up with the alternate-future versions of Zatanna and Kyle Rayner, who are part of the rebellion against Trigon. Booster sacrifices himself to keep the rebels’ base hidden, but ends up facing Trigon all by himself.

Our second feature, of course, stars the Blue Beetle, who is running around with his friends Paco and Brenda battling a robot disguised as a woman named Maria. She was built by your standard robot-building mad scientist, who considers her his masterpiece because he gave her the ability to feel emotions. But Maria hates having emotions, and she wants her “dad” to take them away. Can the Beetle stop Maria and her army of killer robots before it’s too late?

Verdict: It’s not that bad, all things considered, but the plot is a lot more illogical and random than seems to be normal, even for your stereotypical comic book. Running around in the future isn’t going to keep the Titans from getting killed in the past, so why even bother?

The Blue Beetle story, of course, is pure thumbs-up. Very funny dialogue and great action. The Beetle should have never been cancelled.


Secret Six #12

Wonder Woman shows up on Smyth’s slaver island, and she thinks the Secret Six have killed former fill-in Wonder Woman Artemis (She’s actually okay, but Wondy doesn’t realize that). While it initially looks like none of them can go toe-to-toe with Wondy, Jeanette eventually manages it, despite getting beat like a rented mule, when she fully activates her powers as a banshee, turning into a carbon-copy of the Silver Banshee, making Wondy relive Jeanette’s gory death-by-botched-decapitation, and reducing the Amazon to a drooling vegetable. And even that isn’t the scariest thing on the island — before long, we meet Smyth’s horrific patron.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, excellent dialogue and art, but the creepy factor really gets cranked up high in this one. Jeanette’s transformation and her memories of her death are pretty disturbing, and Smyth’s crucified but still scary friend is unnerving, just by his sudden appearance.


Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #2

Sir Edward is on the trail of the monster that attacked him and is murdering people around London. While investigating another murder, Grey finds himself invited to the rotten side of town to meet a man called the Captain, a low-rent, barely legal occult detective. The Captain has an inkling about what’s going on, and he takes Grey to meet a medium — the real deal, able to summon an ectoplasmic spirit guide, who offers a small lead in the case and gives Grey a warning about a mysterious spectral figure stalking him. But Grey has other mysterious stalkers to worry about — the demonic bloodsucking monster is still on the prowl.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very moody, spooky scenes on display throughout here. The medium and her spirit guide are simultaneously wholesome and creepy, and the suspense level gets turned up nice and high by the end.

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Armor Wars


The Brave and the Bold #25

DC’s strategy for re-introducing Milestone’s old characters back into continuity seems to involve giving them guest-star appearances in “The Brave and the Bold” — so be it, as y’all are well aware by now, I’m a sucker for the characters from the ’90s classic Milestone Media. In this issue, we’ve got Milestone’s Hardware — basically, he’s Iron Man with a rotten attitude — teaming up very reluctantly with Jaime “Blue Beetle” Reyes to take down an advanced high-tech SYSTEMatic — a powered armor drone working for an international criminal conspiriacy called SYSTEM. Unfortunately, Hardware really prefers to work alone, so even though he’s getting clobbered by the SYSTEMatic, he’s refusing all assistance from Blue Beetle. After Hardware gets his power drained by the SYSTEMatic, Beetle is able to give him a jump-start with his own armor. But will the villain still be too tough for both of them working together? And who’s behind the new redesign of the SYSTEMatics?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good characterization for both characters. I’ve got quibbles about the SYSTEMatic’s power levels and the guy pulling the strings back at SYSTEM, but as long as this issue includes both a Milestone character AND the Blue Beetle, there’s not much doubt that I’d love it.


JSA vs. Kobra #2

The international religious/terrorist organization is back and stronger than ever, as the JSA learns when it becomes clear that the bad guys have successfully infiltrated both Checkmate and S.T.A.R. Labs. And again, Kobra uses misdirection perfectly — while the Justice Society fights off a horde of cultists, a single Kobra operative manages to sneak into a big corporate office and get information about a project that could help Kobra destroy the world.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bit odd that we see so few members of the JSA — it’s primarily just Mr. Terrific, Power Girl, and Green Lantern — but I do like the idea of a Kobra organization that’s both perfectly competent and screamingly scary.


Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #1

Meet Sir Edward Grey, dashing nobleman, detective, and occult investigator. Called in to investigate a series of mysterious murders, he interrogates a man who participated in an expedition with all the victims. The found the shattered skeleton of some sort of animal-human hybrid, and ever since then, they’ve been getting killed off in surprising ways. When a monster attacks and kills the final victim, Grey attempts in vain to apprehend a creature that can be solid one moment and mist the next. Can Grey follow the clues to track his adversary, or is it already too late?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mike Mignola doesn’t often leave the pulp horror genre, so this foray into Victorian detective mystery/ghost story is notable and interesting for that alone. Sir Edward makes an excellent stoic hero, and the murders and setting here are excellently eerie.

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