Review: Return Of The Son Of The Bride Of Rapid-Fire Reviews Part Eight – The Final Chapter

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Or – “I Think We Can Be Certain It’s Not Really Final…”

I started to try and write a big clever open, but y’know what? 

RACCOON WITH A HEAVY MACHINE GUN!!!!!

How am I s’pose to top that?

Previously, on All The Awesome Comics That Rodrigo Has Never Read:  Everything you knew was wrong!  Our hero wasn’t really rocketed from the dead planet Ohio, but was in fact trained by ninja vampire dolphin cyborgs from the future, and the part of his/her history that said so was all a continuity implant by his/her greatest foe, who really didn’t die ten years ago after that fatal explosion/giant robot collapse/handglider accident, but was indeed hiding out in Europe, and didn’t lift a finger to stop the five other people who put on his/her costume and sullied his/her good evil name, nor did he/she come out of the woodwork when his/her own son/daugher/purse chihuahua died, drowned in a vat of Yoo-Hoo.  No, he/she waited until now, until the point when his/her return would have the worst effect on our hero’s life, because honestly, he/she was never happy unless he/she was torturing him/her.  Now, with his/her world turned upside down, our hero must take minute, must stop right there and tell you how he/she became the prince of a town called Bel-Air figure out what it really means to be a hero, before going back to doing the same damn thing she’s been doing since Ditko retired.

Avengers: The Initiative #15:  Returning from his run-in with Skrulls in Hawaii, the 3-D Man arrives back at Camp Hammond to find that (thanks to a wish from Crusader’s Freedom Ring) EVERYONE looks like AV1.jpga Skrull…  except Crusader, who IS one.  The Red and Green Dynamo takes off in a Quinjet, just in time for the Alien Virus from Secret Invasion #1 to wreck it through the Starktech virus.  The same virus lays low War Machine, who is forced to rely on Baron Von Blitzschlag for power to survive (much to both their dismay.  The recruits at Hammond get the call for duty, and prepare to hit the field, as Crusader remembers how he ended up on Earth as a spy.  He developed a relationship with a cute little video store clerk, fell in love with Twizzlers, and BANG!  One turncoat Skrull…  If all it took was a tight butt and candy, it’s a good thing they didn’t start the Invasion in Los Angeles.  Crusader meets his oldest friend in combat (well, isn’t that conveeeeenient?) and decides which side he really stands on: Earth’s.  In a twisted sense of honor, he stops wearing the scar that he used to wear as a symbol of battle.  It’s an okay issue, long on conflict, short on coherence, and oddly drawn by Harvey Tolibao, but not in a disturbing way.  As crossovers go, it’s quite decent…  3.5 stars.

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Birds of Prey #120: Manhunter and Black Canary finally come face to face, fist to fist, Canary cry to powerstaff…  But Dinah keeps the upper hand, blocking each of Manhunter’s strikes, taking it on the run.  BP1.jpgWhen MH asks why, Black Canary replies, “Frankly, Kate…  I’m trying real hard not to put you in the hospital.”  Heh.  Elsewhere in Platinum Flats, Oracle sends her new girl (Infinity) on a stealth mission to try and prove that the Silicon Syndicate runs the town.  Canary arrives with a defeated Manhunter, accusing Oracle of spying on her, but Oracle points out that she was actually spying on SPEEDY!  While Infinity continues to look into mysterious doings (against Oracle’s wishes) Barbara the oracle tells Dinah the canary that she’s been keeping her distance because of the “death” of Dinah’s daughter Sin.  They part on icy terms, as Infinity finds that the source of the strange technology is the corpse of Gizmo from the Fearsome Five.  Within moments, she discovers that it’s actually the REANIMATED corpse of Gizmo, as the flying midget zombie creeps me right the hell out.  Giz explains that he is, himself part of the Silicon Syndicate, just as Huntress arrives and makes the save.  The issue ends with the Syndicate being rousted by a new applicant… THE JOKER!  Tony Bedard turns in an okay script, nothing glowing, and the confrontation between Babs and Dinah rings really false.  The art, by Michael O’Hare is scratchy, feeling very much like an issue of Fathom, with impossible skinny women contorting themselves oddly.  I’m disappointed in this book, which had recently been sooo much better.  1.5 stars.

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Black Summer #7:  Another disappointing book, as the series that started with such promise and BS1.jpgimplications of political intrigue ends with a big ol’ fistfight.  John Horus, who murdered el Presidente with his bare hands (or, really, his little robot eyes) faces down a cadre of next-generation spb’s, while the other Seven Guns (Zoe Jump, Katherine Artemis, and Angel One) decide that they have to help him out of loyalty.  Frank Blacksmith, the man behind the Seven Guns, goes looking for Laura Torch’s “gun” (the focal point of her powers) only to find that Batman-analogue Tom Noir isn’t dead at all.  John Horus (the Superman analogue) arrives, and once again we see the inevitable Hadean versus Apollonian archetypes duking it out, until Tom commits a wearied suicide, taking Blacksmith and Horus with him.  Our story ends with Tom’s recorded epitaph, explaining how he had to kill his best friend, “because he cared too much about saving the day.”  Black Summer started with such promise, but wrapped up in quick fashion, too quick.  Juan Jose Ryp’s art is, as always, inhumanly detailed, but Warren Ellis’ script lets it down.  2 stars. 

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CA1.jpgCaptain Action - First Mission, Last Day:   This issue is a combination of sales pitch, history lesson, and origin story for the main character, explaining how he became Captain Action, with little bits of entertaining business along the way.  We learn about his history, the origin of his face-copying powers, and his first encounter with Doctor Eville (spelled with the final “e” ala Occupation Foole) even the familiar black and navy blue costume of Captain Action.  It’s… interesting, but not overly compelling.  Even as a comic book completist/historian I drifted in and out of the backstory, and the first person narration is a bit too ‘Wolverine’ for my tastes.  “I’m the best there is at what I do, and what I do is… sell accessories.”  Still, I’m onboard for the ongoing series, and based on this, I think that it can still be a pretty awesome series.  This issue has a lot of potential, even falling a bit short of it’s goal.  2 stars.

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Eternals #3:   The general consensus from the few people I’ve spoken with about this title is that it’s quickly expending much of the goodwill created by the Gaiman/Romita miniseries of last year.  Makkari Et1.jpgcontinues his communion with the Dreaming Celestial, who explains the history of what happened during the Second Host of the Celestials.  Long story short?  Arishem the Judge and the Dreaming Eternal came to blows over what to do with Earth.  Ajak, the former speaker to the Eternals, seems to have popped his cork, travelling to the middle-European stomping grounds of Druig, mind-controlling a relatively innocent man’s family in sinister fashion.  Zuras talks with his grandson (“I HATE THIS PLACE!  It’s boring, and there’s nothing to do, and all you do is YELL at me, and you’re a big fat old HIPPIE!”  Heh…)  The Dreamer explains that even a Celestial can’t kill a Celestial, explaining how he got buried millenia ago, as Thena finds Phastos, the Eternal weaponsmith and Ajak finds Gilgamesh the Forgotten One.  We barely have an inkling of what’s going on with the main characters, and we’re already expanding the cast of characters.  Daniel Acuna’s art is gorgeous, but once again the script doesn’t do it justice, as the Knauf brothers have put together a mishmash of things that I’m not quite sure about…  2 stars.

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Flash #242:  I gotta tell ya, for all the hue and cry about Bart’s unpleasant run as Flash last year, this Fl1.jpgseries hasn’t really been all that impressive.  Last issue, Iris West (the daughter of Wally and Linda) hyper-aged to roughly the age of 30, leaving her mother afraid that she’s going to die.  Flash leaps into action, compelled by a psychic nudge from Gorilla Grodd to find Nzame, the little white ape who is reputed to have healing powers.  He gets involved with the littl telepathic guy that Spin (ugh) had been using to control the masses, only to have him die suddenly, and the monkey trusting him.  Iris continues to hyper-age, reaching 40, then 50, before Dad gets the brilliant idea to take her go Gorilla City for healing.  Nnamdi, son of Solovar, tells him that he cannot let the healer of Gorilla City touch his daughter, but gives him a backhanded way to get it done.  Iris is seemingly melted by the backlash, and Gorilla Grodd leaps out of the woodwork and Flash swears to kill him.  It’s a puzzling issue in a series therof, with nice art by Freddie Williams II, and a script from Peyer that seems very… um… arbitrary.  2 stars.

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FX1.jpgFX #6:  Man, I am just not feelin’ the love this week.  FX, another series that started off really compelling, just sort of… comes apart at the end.  We start off with a big group shot of superheroes (I can’t remember where last issue left off, to be honest) telling FX and his semi-girlfriend Poltergeist to step aside as the first team is here.  We get a little fighty-fighty before the heroes decide to join force, and the group starts a journey to a mysterious city in the clouds, cracking skulls with giants, trolls, and minotaurs before confronting FX’s best friend Jack, now the villain Blackjack.  One quick stab, and they’re all free, returning to their life without the slightest sense of consequence.  The individual issues of FX have been nicely done, well drawn by John Byrne, but the continuity between them has been less than impressive.  I like the book, but this issue isn’t really anything special.  2.5 stars.

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Hawkman Special #1:  Hmmm…  So, a few years ago, they streamlined Hawkman’s continuity to HM1.jpgdownplay the fact that he is BOTH a reincarnated Egyptian prince and a Hawk Cop from Thanagar.  But forget all that!  We’re here to make things complicated again!  Carter Hall goes into battle agains a mysterious foe, who calls him on of the “Aberrant Six,” which might mean something, someday.  He meets a guy who isn’t Thanos, isn’t Darkseid, but is obviously cut from the same cloth, and who talks in riddles.  Hawkman is taken back in time to the point where his cycle of resurrection began, but fails to save his wife from the blade again.  The mysterious goon with the glowing eyes explains that his life as Khufu is a lie, a series of them, actually, and Hawkman’s life has been intentionally messed with.  The creature addresses him as “Katar Hol,” and sends him on his way, leaving Hawkman to wonder if everything he knows is wrong.  Well, if he knows that this book makes any sense, I’ll agree.  The art is pleasant enough, but I don’t know what in holy hell any of it was about…  1 star.

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Hellblazer #246:  What fascinates me about the current run of Hellblazer is how old-school it is.  Ever since Garth Ennis wrote the book years ago, people have been rehashing the bits and pieces of his run, but HB1.jpgAndy Diggle’s recent take has pulled him alllll the way back to issue #1 and Jamie Delano’s take on the character.  Being Hellblazer, the book starts with a series of horrifying little vignettes, involving death, cannibalism, murder and blah blah blah, while another of my recent annoyances with comic books: killing/endangering children to shock me.  It’s a whole rant, and I’m sure I’ll get to it some day, but it irks me here, again.  John returns to Newcastle, and remembes his days with Mucous Membrane, finding that a documentary crew awoke a terror elemental (with lots of close-up blood and gore) and got themselves killed.  John banishes the demon, and has a conversation with the cameraman, even giving him a bit of mercy before he dies, then walks away singing his old songs.  It’s a very old-school Constantine here, leaving carnage in his wake, concerned only with making sure that no MORE people die, knowing that these are past helping.  Jason Aaron gives us a very “punk” tale, and Sean Murphy’s art is gruesome, yet somehow restrained in it’s ickiness.  Overall, once my skin stopped crawling, I found this to be one of the sturdiest J.C. issues in recent memory.  4 stars. 

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Infinity Inc. #12:  Sometimes, when a book gets cancelled, you mourn the sad loss of a creative piece of In1.jpgwork, sometimes it’s like losing a friend.  Sometimes, it’s a mercy, and this issue is one of the latter.  Infinity Inc. never really seemed to know what in the hell it was, seeming like a pseudo-Vertigo title in some cases, and like a mainstream kids superhero book in others.  The fact that one of the main characters had TWO identical evil twins, one more evil than the other, and one of the other changed GENDER and looked pretty much exactly like another character in his/her girl form didn’t help.  This issue confusingly wraps up the whole duelling McKenna’s bit, and leaves the heroes in the hands of Darkseid, with team mentor Steel (who really wasn’t IN the book much at all) to lament their disappearance.  I’m sure they tried hard to give us something new, but this title never lived up to the potential I thought it had coming out of 52.  1 star, mitigated somewhat by the hopes that some of these characters come back someday, in a form that lives up to their potential…

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Invincible #51:  It’s one of those much-vaunted jumping on points for new readers, as Invincible’s life is about to take a whole new direction.  This issue opens after last issues carnage and the revelation that Cecil Inv1.jpgSteadman was willing to go to ANY lengths to protect his country (and personal powerbase.)  Now, Invincible, joined by his half-brother Oliver, need new suits. The former Teen Team members, having quit the Guardians of the Globe, search for a new base and a new name (and Atom Eve has the ominous realization that ex-boyfriend Rex Splode isn’t a total doofus) while the Guardians initiate Darkwing into their ranks (for he is the terror that flaps in the night!) and Oliver dubs himself Kid Omni-Man.  Invincible tries to talk him out of the name, pointing out that their late father is known as a criminal murdering space marauder, but Oliver’s belief that Dad is good sways him.  ‘Vince gets a new suit (which I don’t actually like, it’s too dark and lacks the bits of personality the old one had…  Yes, the gloves and knee-pads weren’t all that useful, but they were unique, and this just isn’t) and fights two old schmucks, while his old villains, the Titan brothers, invade a nuclear missile silo.  Invincible begins his relationship with Atom Eve in earnest, his mom gets a boyfriend, Invincible gets mistaken for his own kid sidekick, and, oh yeah… ANGSTROM LEVY ISN’T DEAD!  It’s enough to think they’re spring-boarding another two years of the book out of this issue.  Oh… yeah.  Nevermind.  Good stuff, well-written, well-drawn, and clever.  4 stars.

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Justice League of America #23:  Can I just say that I’ve really had enough of the Amazo crap?  Black JLA1.jpgCanary redeems herself for her hardcase routine with Vixen last issue, by asking Zatanna to assist with possibly figuring out what’s up with the magic of the Tantu totem.  Zee finds that something is far more powerful than she is, while downstairs, Batman and Steel are taken down by Amazo.  Flash and Superman are likewise easily downed, but Wally manages to cut off Amazo’s use of the Speed Force, rendering his Deus Ex Machina somewhat LESS Deus, but still Ex Machina as all hell.  Fighty fighty ensues, with a bit of crashy crashy, and then everyone but Vixen is taken out.  But, as The Mimic proved over four decades ago against the Super-Adaptoid, power-duplicating robots can’t steal powers from power-duplicating heroes in orange tights.  We end with Amazo ready to kill Vix, and the whole issue goes by so fast, I’m not sure I have an opinion, other than: Something new, please?  Ed Benes does his usual scratchy art with pretty girls, and McDuffie at least nails the dialogue.  2 stars. 

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Manhunter #33:  Well, at least not every title has disappointed me.  Manhunter is back in form, as Kate MH1.jpgSpencer investigates a mysterious series of missing girls in Mexico, leading her to a corporate entity with super-powered muscle for security.  We flashback to how she got there, while, back home, son Ramsey has a strange afternoon with Grandma Phantom Lady and Grandpa Iron Munro (and his freaky robo-dog Thor, an omen of ill-tidings indeed.)  Kate’s detective work leads her into close contact with grieving families (something she’s very uncomfortable with) while, back home, her tech guy Dylan goes on the run from the Joker.  Manhunter calls in backup from Oracle, parades around in her panties, and Ramsey is revealed to have inherited more than a smart mouth from Grandpa Iron.  It’s well written (as always) by Andreyko, and Michael Gaydos handles art chores with aplomb.  Flashing forward again, Manhunter makes short work of the muscleheaded guards, and ends up meeting… The Suicide Squad???  Boy, you had me, and then…  WTF?  Either way, this is a solid issue, answering some questions, and raising more, and it’s very pretty to look at as well.  3.5 stars.

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Trinity #10:  I am just not feeling this book.  Busiek’s scripting is nice, and his take on Wonder Woman, Tr1.jpgBatman, and Superman is very unique (giving Bats a soul, Wonder Woman a humanity long missing, and Superman a believable temper, albeit with a looooong fuse.)  This issue reveals that the mysterious menage a trois of Enigma, Morgaine Le Fay and Despero have been collecting souvenirs of the Big Three for some sort of mystical counterwhooziwhatsis, while the JLA goes to Counter-Earth to confront the Crime Syndicate, who are revealed to have been using stolen people from various Earths of the multiverse as slave labor to rebuild their planet, and we reveal that Ultraman has taken Jimmy Olsen as bait.  The backup features a very well-done tale of Nightwing and Robin fighting a giant Gorilla in a corset (?) and having some nice brother moments throughout.  Yet, something just feels… inessential about it all.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, maybe it’s just Countdown reflux, or maybe I’m just waiting for it all to finally somehow gel.  Either way, I’m stuck at 2.5 stars, and hope that it really picks up as we keep moving. 

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