Or – “Hell, Man… I Only Have So Much Free Time!”

There seems to be a thing out there called “Real Life.”  It’s composed mostly of things to annoy you and drain your wallet of cash, but sometimes it also feeds on your free time.  One of the joys of this gig is getting to share the wondrous things that happen in comics and split the burdens of that which is terrible, which means I usually bite off more than I can chew in terms of comics that I’d like to review.  Since this has happened yet again, it’s time to play catch-up (because mustard stains the carpet.)

Previously, on Virtually Every Title Known To Man:  Good fought evil, in an endless spectacle of pageantry, where golden hearted heroes went toe to toe with black-souled villains.  Many girls, puppies, and schoolchildren were saved, possibly even a girl scout troop.  Some gave their lives in pursuit of justice, while others found their existences transformed in ways unheard of.  Many young men took up the mantles of their lost fathers/mentors/brothers in arms, while some of the heroes fell prey to evil, becoming villains themselves.  Depending on the title, there may also have been some sex.  Also: SKRULLS!  And crises of some varying finality.  Also: It turns out that your favorite hero is a Skrull and ten or fifteen years of reading is all for naught, as they’re revamping him in a new, younger incarnation with a costume by Alex Ross.  Which is ugly…  And now, ON WE GO!

Captain Britain and MI-13 #1:  The most pleasantly surprising comic of the past few weeks for me…  John the Skrull (from the ‘Wisdom’ limited series) ends up in jail for his Skrullitude, and we find that Skrull Paul, George, and Ringo have been executed.  Just as it’s his turn, Pete Wisdom arrives to find that the head of British Intelligence is a Skrull, and summarily cuts the man in half.  Captain Britain (back in his awesome Union Jack-inspired costume, and not the simplified one) is fighting the invasion back, with a little help from Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, who gets the line of the issue.  When someone reminds him of the curse of the Ebony Blade, and what to do if it tells him to do something evil, he snarks, “It does.  All the time.  I just keep asking myself, ‘What would a superhero do?’  Then I roll my eyes and do the right thing anyway.”  Heh.  Wisdom keeps hearing a voice intoning “The Sword will be drawn again,” Spitfire does something shocking, and Brion Braddock becomes more like Steve Rogers (literally and figuratively) while Super-Skrulls abound.  It’s a well done book, writen by Paul Cornell of Doctor Who fame, and drawn by Leonard Kirk, and it’s a nice way to show us the global nature of Secret Invasion.  4 out of 5 stars…

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Dynamo 5 Annual #1:  Captain Dynamo is a tool of the first order.  This issue, consisting of vignettes from the past of the D5, starts with Cap’s first appearance, reprinted from an old Noble Causes “Extended Family” issue, during which he makes a pass a Liz Noble, the wife of Race, and is possessed by an alien creature that makes him homicidal.  The creature is beaten easily, but Liz realizes that he was hitting on her BEFORE it’s influence…   “You can go ahead and tell everyone else you were.  But I’ll know.  And I won’t forget.”  Story number two makes him even skeevier, as he and every other hero in New York is emperiled by a giant monster which turns out the be the work of super-villain Chrysalis, who Cap LETS GO, and reminds of their standing booty call.  Jackass.  Worse than that, his wife Maddie nearly catches him, and he lies directly to her.  The story of the D5’s first actual battle (orchestrated by Maddie against a disguised Noble family) and the story of an unscrupulous journalist round out the issue, which is well written by Jay Faerber, if a bit too “Hey, it’s that guy!” in the fight scenes.  And it’s become obvious that parent title Noble Causes is now being helped more by the crossover with Dynamo 5 than the opposite.  The art runs a gamut of different styles, but all are well done, and the book rates an overall 3.5 out of 5 stars.  It would have been four but for Cap’n Dynamo’s assclownitude.

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Guardians of The Galaxy #1:  This issue manages to do something that I am very much impressed by.  Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning brings us a good space opera book that’s also a well-done superhero title, which is more of a rarity than you think.  The issue kicks off with a “Mission Debrief,” a cute conceit by which the main characters are interviewed about the mission the story relates…  Star-Lord and his crew have a pretty much uneventful run-in with the Church of Universal Truth, old foes of a previous incarnation of Guardian Adam Warlock.  Quasar points out the obvious, that such a strong-willed group SHOULDN’T gel, but Gamora, Drax, Rocket Racoon, Quasar, Warlock and Star-Lord work for me in ways that most teams don’t.  Maybe it’s the vague echoes of the Legion of Super-Heroes, I don’t know…   Warlock hints at a greater evil, but it’s Mantis, with her precognition, who spills the beans.  “I cannot tell them that nine months from now, they will be betrayed and KILLED by one of their own…   Such truths a mentat must keep to herself.”  Nice bit of foreshadowing there.  The team takes up residence in Knowhere, the extradimensional hangout that Nova found in a recent issue (complete with Russian telepathic space dog, who holds no love for Rocket) and setting up their new status quo.  The story ends with an explanation of “those complicated, alternate dimension things” as we see the frozen body of what may be Captain America floating in space.  Heh…  Even Paul Pelletier, whose art has annoyed me for years is on his game with this issue, another solid 3.5 out of 5 star affair.

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Black Summer #5:  I think I may have either missed an issue, or the narrative jumped a bit, as we are not where I recall us being at the end of what I recall as #4.  Angel One recounts her origin (and reveals her crush on the late Tom Noir) as the four remaining Seven Guns blow some $#!+ UP.  Frank Blacksmith, the man who assembled the Guns in the first place, arrives with a new squadron of super-powered goons, who proceed to cripple Angel, and brutally murder Dominic Atlas Hyde.  While that battle rages, John Horus confronts the army about the death of his ‘World’s Finest” pal Tom Noir, and everyone realizes at once what I already knew: Tom MADE the tank fire on him.  Of course, nobody seems to realize, as I do, that he’s not dead at all.  Frank Blacksmith makes his final gambit, as Horus is attacked by dozens and dozens of metahumans in black leather, and prepares to go to the next level.  A few miles away, Zoe Jump, Angel One, and Katherine Artemis finally defeat their foes only to see a seeming nuclear explosion from the direction of John Horus…  I’ve been talking this story up since issue one, but this time I found myself a little disappointed.  The “wide-screen” violence didn’t do much for me, even though Juan Jose Ryp knocked the art out of the park, and there’s just a few too many echoes that make me think I’ve read all this before.  A disappointed 2 out of 5 stars.

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Birds of Prey #118:  Sadly, Black Summer isn’t the only fave-rave to leave me cold this week.  This issue starts with a narrative jump, as well, as we see two girls fighting to the death in an arena.  One is erstwhile Superman foe Livewire, who gets her head handed to her in seconds by… Misfit?  The teleporting teen terror is then taken by “Granny” and her furies to her cell, where we realize that she’s been drugged and is being used by people who have the names of the New Gods (Steppenwulf, Lashina, and more) in their reindeer games.  She is stunned to find Black Alice in her room, and the girls share their extremely coincidental story of having been snatched for the arena (MORE GORE FOR THE ORG!!!) and, of course, are forced to face on another in a battle do the death.  Black Alice channels Etrigan (!!) and then steals Misfit’s powers, using them to kill Granny.  Misfit escapes, but Alice runs off into the streets, leaving behind only a note.  When she gets home to Oracle’s, MIsfit is unable to believe what it says: she and Black Alice are blood relatives, and one of their lives is a lie.  Even the wonderful art of Nikola Scott couldn’t save this one, with far too much New Gods (aren’t they dead?) too much Black Alice teen angst b.s., and not nearly enough of the fun side of Misfit…   1.5 out 5 stars.

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Checkmate #26:  This issue is a standalone origin issue, starting in Iraq with PFC Adam Sharp leaving his Humvee to relieve himself, seconds before it’s blown to smithereens.  PFC Sharp is then abused, shot and left for dead in the desert by Islamic fundamentalists, but barely survives.  Taken by Checkmate, his family given an empty funeral with a closed coffin, Sharp is mutated, experimented on, and turned into the Chimera, a monster who takes on animal characteristics and uses them in battle.  The scientists erased his memory, but weren’t completely able to erase Adam Sharp, as he remembers his girlfriend Chloe, and she, for her part, has a prophetic dream that he’s still alive.  Meanwhile, around the world, strange monsters are arising, for mysterious and unsavory purposes, while Checkmate prepares to turn Sharp into their new ultimate weapon.  It’s an interesting story, and the topicality of the war storyline is interesting (and wouldn’t work in a book other than Checkmate, in my opinion) but the shift from Greg Rucka to new writer Bruce Jones is far too abrupt for my tastes.  This issue is dark, brutal, and none of the regular characters even appear.  Not the best way to take over an ongoing title, in my opinion, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see more.  2 out of 5 stars.

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Mighty Avengers #14:  A Secret Invasion Crossover!!!  One of the greatest sins of Civil War recurs in this issue, a stand-alone examination of the Sentry, set between panels of Secret Invasion #2: I’m confused as to the timeframe and how the hell this story fits in with any of the others being told.  We start with a flashback of Sentry’s (now-forgotten) first battle with the monstrous Skrull empire, during which he somehow restrains his urge to throw them into the sun.  Cut forward a bit, to a moment right after the formation of the New Avengers, as Skrull-Jarvis manages to use the Scarlet Witch’s tragedy to dig up some information to use as a wedge against the Sentry.  Much Skrullian talky-talky ensues, and we see characters whom I suspect should be surprise Skrull reveals, but I have no idea who any of them actually are, thanks to nondescript art by Khoi Pham.  Cut to the battle in S.I. #2, as one of the Skrulls turns into the Void, and sends Bob Reynolds into a tailspin.  We cut forward again, to find Lindy Reynolds in danger of being murdered by a super-skrull with the powers of the classic Defenders, before she is saved by her husband in his guise as… THE VOID???  Brian Bendis has written a primer of everything that’s wrong with Sentry here, and this issue manages to take mental illness and mortal combat and make it very, very boring.  1.5 out of 5 stars.

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Justice Society of America #15:  Speaking of very, very boring…  I’m sorry, but we’ve been reading the JSA slowly finding out about Gog since roughly the Industrial Revolution without much happening, and this issue just continues that trend…  Superman-KC starts the issue by flashing back to a story that hasn’t happened yet in this timeline, the nuking of the superheroes at the climax of Kingdom Come.  Alan Scott and Obsidian pull him back to reality, as the JSA mobs all over Gog, horn-helmeted scion of a lost god blah blah blah fishcakes.  Page after page of fighty-fighty follows, some of it interesting, and all of it well-rendered by Dale Eaglesham, before Gog is pushed back to the statue of his god, also called Gog.  He is consumed, and the statue comes to life, rising up and stating, “People of Earth.  I come in peace.”  Had this happened three issue ago, I might still care.  There’s a moment where Gog recognizes Lance, and spoilers his future, but in general, the best I can say about this one is that we’re finally getting somewhere in all this Kingdom Come claptrap.  Hopefully, the story can now go somewhere interesting…  1.5 out of 5 stars.

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Overall, we’re not looking at bad comics this week, just mediocre ones that tried to outstretch themselves.  Too much buildup to things (Final Crisis, the coming of Gog, Secret Invasion) hurt several books badly, but at least Captain Britain and Rocket Racoon are back in some form or another.  After today, I’m starting to lean towards having at least one of these Rapid-Fires every week or two, effectively doubling my review productivity..

 

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. Salieri
    May 30, 2008 at 2:09 pm — Reply
  2. Mr. Dou
    May 30, 2008 at 3:41 pm — Reply

    I don’t get the hate for The Sentry. I thought the issue of Mighty Avengers was really interesting, and I almost always enjoy anything Sentering (haha, that was a pun) on the Sentry.

  3. Maximus Rift
    May 31, 2008 at 4:18 pm — Reply

    I guess, Mr. Dou, it’s because he was just shoved into continuity in a crappy way and in completely unoriginal.

    My guess is that Quesada and Bendis wanted to work on DC stuff and this is the next best thing.

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