Archive for Worlds Finest

Graduation Day

Avengers Academy #39

It’s the final issue of “Avengers Academy,” one of Marvel’s best series. Let’s start off by congratulating Christos Gage, Tom Grummett, and the other artists who worked on the series. It was great fun almost all the way through, and a great example that a superhero series can break the mold in numerous ways and still enjoy some success. I just wish it had enjoyed a bit more success…

What we get here is a lot of wrap-up of character stories. X-23 and Finesse essentially agree to disagree. Striker goes on a date and starts adjusting to his status as a gay icon. Hazmat and Mettle take their relationship to the next level. Reptil and White Tiger start their own relationship, as do Lightspeed and Karolina Dean. The students reveal to their teachers that they’ve known all along that they were considered potential supervillains, and they also learn what their future is with the Avengers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent ending for an excellent series. Great emotional moments for almost everyone — yes, even Finesse. My only regret is that most of the cast members here will be moving on “Avengers Arena,” where they’re scheduled to be pointlessly killed. But it was a good run while it lasted.

The Hypernaturals #5

While the Hypernaturals try to solve the mystery of what destroyed the previous Hypernaturals team, they track down a couple of stray clues — they search for the significance of something called the Chernovski Event, and they try to track down the mysterious Clone 21, the only one of the Clone series to go into hiding. Meanwhile, former member Stellerator, desperate for a cure for her husband, who was de-aged by Sublime, agrees to break the supervillain out of prison so he can find out who’s been impersonating him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still good, futuristic fun, like an alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Excellent action and dialogue, and tons of intrigue and mysteries. Mysteries piled on top of mysteries, in fact. The characterization is pretty good, too. All in all, it’s a lot of fun.

Worlds’ Finest #6

While Huntress visits Gotham City to steal a few million dollars from Bruce Wayne, to help finance her activities, she runs into Damian Wayne, who is essentially her alternate universe half-brother. They spend at least half the issue beating the heck out of each other. Power Girl, meanwhile, is focused on her own research, which generally involves highjacking some computing cycles from communications satellites and avoiding any contact with Supergirl.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action and beautiful art by both Kevin Maguire and George Perez. Still can’t stand Power Girl’s new costume — not like anyone else can either. That’s probably the only thing they’d have to fix to make this series even more enjoyable.

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Adventures in Comics Sitting

Love and Capes: What to Expect #2

Abby and Mark continue their pregnancy preparations, including volunteering to babysit a friend’s baby to see how they handle pre-parenthood. Things don’t go as planned, though nothing truly disastrous happens.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, not a whole lot happens in here. No smackdowns against crazed supervillains, no terrible crisis to solve, no danger or derring-do. But it’s a good, fun, funny story, so heck yeah, it’s a thumbs up.

Worlds’ Finest #0

We get a look back on Power Girl and the Huntress when they were Supergirl and Robin on Earth-2. Robin has her debut adventure, with the permission of her mother, Catwoman (though daddy Batman disapproves). Superman trains Supergirl for potential attacks by Apocalypse. Tragedy brings the two fledgling heroines together.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice writing by Paul Levitz, and amazingly appealing art by Kevin Maguire. Honestly, I’d rather read about Robin and Supergirl than almost anything else DC is publishing right now.

Avengers Academy #36

Jeremy Briggs has depowered most of the Academy members, and he’s planning on depowering the rest of the world’s heroes and villains, too. Hazmat has gotten her powers back, Striker has gotten his face scarred, Mettle gets his powers back, but only letting Hazmat burn his flesh away, and White Tiger and Reptil have to persuade their own magic powers to come back to them. Will they be able to get the rest of the team’s powers back? Will they be able to stop Jeremy from releasing the Clean Slate virus?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I like these characters a lot. Even without their powers, they’re a lot of fun. Also, Hazmat and Mettle are just so awesome. I’m gonna miss this series so very much.

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Born Yesterday?

So it looks like DC put a “Who’s Who” page in the back of this month’s Zero issues, as a way to re-introduce the rebooted characters to readers. Seems a bit of a foolish idea, since the creators should be introducing the characters in the regular issues, and if they can’t do that effectively, there are some bigger problems ahead.

The biographies for Power Girl and the Huntress in the back of this week’s Worlds’ Finest #0 (I hope to get to a review of that sometime next week, but I will say I thought it was a good comic) were… acceptable. Again, I think not really needed, since the title has only had four issues prior to this one. But it was mostly… acceptable.

But one thing really, really bugged me — something that I suspect is replicated across all of the “Who’s Who” features in the Zero issues:

No, DC Comics, I don’t care how much you want us to love the Reboot and accept that as ALL THERE EVER HAS BEEN, it just ain’t so. Power Girl’s first appearance was in All Star Comics #58 in 1976, and Huntress debuted in DC Super Stars #17 in 1977.

On one hand, I want to consider this a minor issue, but it does point up a certain tendency in the Nelson/DiDio/Johns/Lee era for the company to exhibit a lack of pride in their own long history, as well as a belief that the current leadership team is going to “fix” its comics by getting rid of the things the bigwigs are, for some reason, embarrassed about.

So please take some notes, Diane, Dan, Geoff, and Jim:

  • Your company’s previous 74 years of history are really not anything you need to retcon away.
  • Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Wally West, Lian Harper, Donna Troy, Misfit, and the original Justice Society were actually excellent characters who don’t deserve to be ashcanned.
  • Splitting up Clark Kent and Lois Lane is just plain stupid.
  • You should really stop treating Alan Moore like crap.
  • Barbara Gordon was a better character as Oracle.
  • Secret Six was better than nearly every comic you’re printing now.
  • Vertigo and Wildstorm characters really do not fit in the DC Universe.
  • Jim Lee’s costume design skills ain’t all that.
  • It genuinely will not make you look less manly if you hire more women to create your comics.
  • Beast Boy is actually green, not red…
  • …and nearly all of your characters were actually created prior to 2011.

Grow up, DC. You’re embarrassing us.

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Shadow of the Devil

Daredevil #16

Daredevil has been rescued from Latveria, but he’s not out of the woods yet. The Avengers are trying to rid him of the nanobot infestation that’s robbed him of his senses. This mainly involves a miniaturized Ant-Man running around Matt’s brain shooting nanobots with a blaster gun. As a side effect, both Daredevil and Ant-Man are getting mental bleedover — briefly sharing each others’ memories and senses. Tony Stark and Stephen Strange are trying to assist, but they’re hampered by patchy communications and by not being miniaturized inside Daredevil’s brain with a blaster rifle. Will Ant-Man be able to cure Matt and escape from the nanobots? And what kind of surprises are waiting for Matt back at his law firm?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art and writing. A nice cool-down issue — or at least the first half of the story is. After that, the tension and surprises ramp up pretty quickly. As always, a great read, and one I hope you’re reading.

Worlds’ Finest #4

Power Girl and Huntress now have to deal with a highly radioactive Hakkou who’s now Godzilla-sized and wrecking ships in Tokyo’s harbor. While Huntress rounds up ships to help get survivors out of the water, Power Girl works to clean up the oil spills. While they try to neutralize Hakkou, we get another flashback to the heroines’ past, as they clean up some riffraff in Rome and Helena reminisces about her parents.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s all pretty good, but this one really scores with a few smaller details — it’s cool to see Helena effortlessly trash a bunch of thugs without even dropping her ice cream, it’s cool to see her Batman T-shirt and her interaction with the cat, and it’s cool to see the brief return of Power Girl’s cleavage window. The art by both George Perez and Kevin Maguire is fun, exciting, expressive.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I’m not all that big on Doctor Who, but here’s a short episode — a spoof, really — that stars Rowan Atkinson, Jonathan Pryce, Julia Sawalha, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, and Joanna Lumley.
  • Sometimes you just get to meet awesome, unexpected people and learn from them.
  • Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore are looking to fund a new comic through Kickstarter.
  • Here’s something I never would’ve dreamed up — Christian fundamentalists apparently hate mathematical set theory.

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The Sweet Science

Popeye #3

So there’s this guy called George W. Geezil — not a guy from the Popeye cartoons, but an old character from the “Thimble Theater” strips — and he’s had a mad-on about Wimpy for as long as anyone can remember. Wimpy always mooches his hamburgers and just generally irritates the tar out of him. “You are flies in mine zupe!” he’s always yelling. And Geezil hatches on a scheme to get rid of Wimpy once and for all — he’s got himself a masked monster of a prizefighter called the Phantom Crusher, and he wants to put on a big boxing match between Wimpy and the Phantom Crusher! Popeye doesn’t like an unfair fight, so he decides he’ll act as Wimpy’s trainer in the weeks before the fight. Can he get Wimpy to eat his spinach and exercise? Not if we know Wimpy. So does Wimpy stand any chance against the Crusher? Not if we know Wimpy. But what happens when Popeye discovers that the Crusher and Geezil are resorting to cheating?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Vastly silly fun from beginning to end. Excellent action, even if it is fairly silly action. Great dialogue, even if it’s pretty silly dialogue. This is something to get if you enjoy a nice dose of silliness in your comics. And if you’re dork enough not to enjoy silly comics, more pity on you.

Worlds’ Finest #3

Huntress and Power Girl are still fighting the highly radioactive Hakkou in Tokyo, and he’s definitely got them on the ropes, until Huntress manages to douse him in radioactive coolant, causing him to flee before he absorbs too much radioactivity. From here, we get a flashback to the heroes’ earlier days on our Earth, as they try to research their alternate-universe counterparts and as Kara makes her plans to discover more about Michael Holt’s dimensional research. Back in the present day, Power Girl saves a jet from crashing, then the heroes discover that Hakkou has absorbed so much radiation, he’s turned into a giant monster! Can they stop him before he destroys Tokyo?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, good action — I gotta admit, I’m getting a lot more enjoyment out of the middle section, drawn by Kevin Maguire, about Helena and Kara’s more civilian-level adventures exploring the new world they’ve found themselves in. Not that George Perez’s work is anything to sneeze at — but he does get stuck drawing that awful Power Girl costume…

The Amazing Spider-Man #689

The Lizard has been turned back into Curt Connors — but inside, he’s still the Lizard, enraged at being transformed into a weak, amputated human, furiously trying to figure out a way to get himself changed back and then kill everyone he can. His devious mind realizes he can use Michael Morbius’ weaknesses against them all — he knows the Living Vampire hasn’t drunk any blood in a while, so he keeps mentioning blood to make him think about how hungry he is, and once Connors is left alone in Morbius’ lab, he pumps a bunch of blood into the air vents. Morbius snaps and puts the bite on one of the scientists at Horizon Labs. While Spidey pursues Morbius across the city, Connors lures Max Modell into his lab for some unorthodox experiments.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action and dialogue. Some good twists and turns in the story, too. You can tell Dan Slott is having a lot of fun writing Spidey — let’s hope Marvel doesn’t take him off the comic when they do their soft reboot this fall…

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Zap Zap

Worlds’ Finest #2

Most of this issue is a slugfest — Power Girl and the Huntress vs. a radioactive monster called Hakkou. In fact, Hakkou makes short work of both of the heroines almost every time they meet, and it seems that he has some kind of connection to their old home on Earth-2. Speaking of Earth-2, we also get plenty of flashbacks to Karen and Helena’s early days after escaping from that alternate Earth, as they get adjusted to their new home and try to figure out how to get back to where they came from. But do they ever stand a chance of leaving Earth-1 behind, or will Hakkou finish what Darkseid’s armies started?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not great comics, but it’s pretty good comics. The art by both George Perez and Kevin Maguire is lots of fun, the battles are nice and actiony, and the flashbacks are enjoyable. Of course, Power Girl’s costume is still just atrociously bad. I feel sorry for whoever designed it. Or whoever eventually gets blamed for it.

Justice League International #10

What a mishmash. The JLI — down Rocket Red, Ice, Fire, and Vixen, but having recently added Batwing and OMAC — tries to track down the terrorists who’ve been behind a lot of the hits they’ve been taking. They knock out some of the bad guys, but they still get stomped after one of the villains manages to take control of Booster Gold’s and Guy Gardner’s weaponry.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This one is just getting irritating. It was never a really strong comic, but one of the things that I thought made it so interesting was the unusually large number of women who were team members. By now, three of the four of them have been fridged, and they look like they’ll stay fridged ’til this comic gets cancelled. But I don’t think I’ll stick around to see — this title has stopped being even vaguely interesting to me.

iZombie #26

Gwen has been convinced by Amon that she needs to help kill everyone in Eugene, Oregon in order to save everyone on Earth from the coming of the elder god Xitalu. She’s trying to give Ellie and Scott a chance to make their escape, but she can’t locate them anywhere. Ellie and Frankenteen get cornered by the vampire paintball girls, the Dead Presidents and the Fossors battle mind-bending horrors together, Scott’s grandfather gets unmasked as a chimpanzee, leading Scott to turn into a were-terrier in front of everyone. And just as the end shows up over the horizon, Gwen finally locates her long-lost brother.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Is it okay to call this “soap opera on an apocalyptic scale”? Whatever it is, it works great. Common drama really gets cranked sky-high once the end of the world is coming.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Welcome to the Second Wave

Worlds’ Finest #1

Well, the second wave of the DC Reboot starts with this title (I’m not counting “Earth 2,” which looks awful, is written by James Robinson, who seemingly gets hackier with every word he writes. “Earth 2” was apparently designed to turn DC’s awesome Golden Age heroes into grim-and-gritty 1990s douchecanoes). Most of what we get is backstory — Power Girl and the Huntress were originally the Supergirl and Robin of Earth 2. While trying to fight off a worldwide attack by Darkseid’s minions, the heroines fell into a Boom Tube and wound up on the world of the DC Reboot.

Now, five years after they got stuck here, they’re visiting Tokyo and toasting their successes — Karen Starr has become a wealthy entrepreneur, specializing in high-tech research and development, while Helena Wayne has adapted into a new costumed crimefighting persona. But there’s been an arson at one of Karen’s labs, and among the sabotaged equipment was a device that Karen hoped would return them to Earth 2. But who was the arsonist, and is he tougher than either Power Girl or the Huntress can handle?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good art, decent action, decent dialogue. I do have some quibbles. First is that Huntress’s Helena Bertinelli secret identity ends up getting unceremoniously dumped — which is really too bad, because I always liked the idea that a former mob princess could end up becoming a schoolteacher who moonlighted as a superhero. Seems like everything DC does these days is focused on making their universe smaller and less awesome, instead of larger and more fun. Second quibble? The new Power Girl costume is a complete disaster. It’s not like they gave Huntress a complete redesign — and there are plenty of amateur and semi-pro artists who’ve done cool redesigns of Power Girl’s costume while still making it look classic. But the new costume is really just embarrassingly bad.

Avengers Academy #29

Okay, Marvel’s new thing is the “Avengers vs. X-Men” crossover, which I’ve been able to mostly ignore. Basically, the Phoenix Force is coming to Earth and likely gunning for Hope, one of the younger members of the X-Men. Cyclops thinks the Phoenix will revitalize the mutant population because — I don’t know, it makes no sense. And the Avengers think they can take Hope into custody and keep the Phoenix Force from getting to her because — I don’t know, that makes no sense either. Essentially, the whole point of the crossover is “OMG WE GOTTA HAVE A CROSSOVER, QUICK THINK OF SOMETHING RANDOM WE CAN FOIST ON READORZ”

Aaaaanyway, in an attempt to keep the young students from Utopia and the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning safe from the ongoing war, Captain America and Wolverine agree to let the folks at Avengers Academy take care of them for the time being. They say it’s not a matter of keeping the students prisoner… but it’s mostly about keeping the students prisoner. In addition to a vast number of mutants students, we’ve also got a mind-wiped Sebastian Shaw and a couple X-affiliated scientists. After Hercules proposes some athletics competitions to get the various students acquainted, X-23 gets to chat with Dust. Lightspeed has a race against Transonic, but the surfing competition between Finesse and Loa gets pre-empted when Loa uses her powers to let former surfer Mettle enjoy some earth-surfing. But the good feelings don’t last — most of the X-students can’t bring themselves to trust the kids from Avengers Academy — and Sebastian Shaw has some dire plans of his own.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Once again, this comic goes for a nonviolent method of storytelling. There’s plenty of conflict, but no one goes for random pointless fisticuffs. Most comics would have these kids tearing each other apart by the mid-point of the story — so this is a great, refreshing change. My lone complaint about this story is that, while we get complete introductions to the students and teachers at Avengers Academy on the first page, we’re largely expected to be familiar with the X-kids already, and that just ain’t so.

Today’s Cool Links:

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