Rapid-Fire Reviews VII: The New Beginning

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Or – “When They Said, ‘Get A Life,’ I Should Have Said ‘&$@$ YOU!”

So, for those of y’all who were not aware I DO have things on my weekly schedule that are NOT comic-related.  Not many of them, granted, but they do exist.  One of them is my day job, overlooking (I almost typed overworking) twelve awesome telephone service representatives in their day-to-day quest to resolve issues for our beloved customers.  August was a rough month for my guys (nicknamed “Team Ramrod”) and has required me to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about AHT, IR, BP, SV, and other meaningless initials.  In any case, I’m officially back to let you know I can really shake ‘em down, with another smorgasboard-orgasbord-orgasbord of comicky goodness, all wrapped up in heavy weapons and pop-culture references. Yeah, I missed youse guys, too.

Previously, on Everything: A message from space brought news of interstallar war!  Our hero, and every costumed person he or she has ever met rocketed into space without so much as a link of beef jerky to tide them over, ready to kick some alien butt!  Unfortunately, they were betrayed by their pilot/someone’s girlfriend/one of the heroes themselves, and left in the clutches of the alien overlords.  Luckily, thanks to luck and clever use of super-powers, our heroes escaped, only to have a long debate on whether or not it was moral to kill alien lizards with pink skin and glow in the dark genitals.  Our hero was aghast to watch as his old friend decided to kill the alien, and now their lives will never be the same.  Again.  Having returned to Earth, they breath a deep sigh of relief, knowing that nothing this huge will happen until next June, as these big team-ups only seem to happen during the summer, for some unknown reason.

AMBUSH BUG – YEAR NONE #2: The Bug is back, and still on the trail of the murderer of Jonni DC…  I AB1.jpgthink.  We start with the Source Wall on the beach in Acapulco, running down the plot (such as it is) of last ish.  The Bug himself is in far-off Nanda Parbat, meeting with Rama Kushna (who is tired of being all serious and stuff, and now wears Groucho glasses) who sends him on a quest to emulate his favorite hero.  Ambush ends up dressed as Space Ranger and crosses swords with Mr Nebula and his newest herald Don Gaye Apparel (who does a mean Ricky Ricardo impersonation.)  Side-trips galore highlight the issue, including the Secret origin of Brother Eye (“Soon the machine became jealous and started to randomly pick out innocent individuals and then to throw them into life-threatening situations.  Just like it’s creator.  It called it’s Robins ‘OMACs.'”  HA!)  Old-school jokes like Mitsu Bishi (the Japanese version of Ambush Bug) and the Amber Butane Corps return, and more madness from Go-Go Chex, the de facto villain of the book.  It doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, and it’s not as funny as last issue, but it’s still a fun read, worth 3 out of 5 stars.

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NEW AVENGERS #44: Tired, tired, tired, oh dear lawdy I am tired of all the reverse storytelling going on in Av1.jpgthe Marvel Universe.  It feels like we’ve hit the big pause button in the sky, and nothing has actually HAPPENED in months, as all the books struggle to catch up with Secret Invasion #2, released over six weeks ago!  This issue may seem to have Avengers in it, but it doesn’t, as the Skrulls find that the best way to fight fire is by stealing a lighter, cloning the mind of Reed Richards, and making HIM (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) figure out how to doom the Earth.  There’s some nice bits of intrigue, and Skrullian politics, and ONCE AGAIN, we see children tortured in the name of showing how evil people are.  Granted, they weren’t REALLY children, but actually Skrulls in disguise, but… Meh.  I’m over that plot point, and it’s really dropping my opinions of comics in which it appears.  This issue is okay, but could have been a two page flashback in an issue that actually WAS an Avengers story, and not yet another flashback with a New Avengers logo on the cover.  1.5 out of 5 stars.

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Av2.jpgMIGHTY AVENGERS #17: See above paragraph.  Althought this issue has a couple of nice bits regarding the Skrulls difficulty in duplicating Hank Pym’s mind, but it all turns into the lightning round of…  Crap! ON! YELLOWJACKET!

Why the trouble?  Turns out that Hank is too crazy for Skrulls to duplicate.  Worst of all?  It takes about the only Marvel Comic not to destroy Hank Pyms credibility, the interminable intial six issue arc of Mighty Avengers, and makes it clear that it wasn’t Hank at all that bedded the amazing Tigra, saved the day against Ultron, and finally came to grips with the past and achieved closure with his ex-wife Janet. The issue is all flashback, adding nothing but character bits for unnamed Skrull footsoldiers, and  my review ranking is likewise a flashback.  1.5 out of 5 stars.

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THE BOYS TWENTY-TWO: The Legend’s telling of the history of The Boys concludes, with the man revealing a few choice bits.  Like The Legend’s hatred of Vought-American stemming from the death of his elder son due to shoddy weapons.  Like The Butcher having a mentor who actually put the Boys together, Bo1.jpgback in the day.  Like said mentor quitting because his family became a target.  Like the fact that the tenuous balance between The Seven and The Boys getting more and more tenuous each day.  Like The Lamplighter’s condition in recent issues being due to hjs killing Butcher’s mentor’s granddaughters.  (More child endangerment as a plot-point.)  Meanwhile, A-Train attempts to sexually assault Starlight, but she shoots him right in the face with her starbeams, then goes on a date with her beau Wee Hughie (who realizes that the story he heard wasn’t about The Boys at all, it was about Vought-American, and I don’t doubt for a second that’s what the Legend intended.  Butcher’s surveillance of The Seven gets to the point where he witnesses Annie/Starlight’s fellatio-laden initiation to the superhero big leagues, and The Legend tells Wee Hughie that his OTHER son was the man Hughie himself murdered, the Blarney Cock.  Heh.  Blarney Cock.  It’s another superlative effort, less incendiary than last issue, but more informative, even with the annoying child-murders.  3.5 out of 5 stars, and I expect that the first meeting between Butcher and Annie to be a bit entertaining, don’t you?

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LSH1.jpgLEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #45: Jim Shooter shows that he’s still got the chops and a strong understanding of what makes the Legion of Super-Heroes works, as a rogue planet arrives in our galaxy, threatening to destroy everything.  Star Boy and Light Lass use their powers in concert (literally) with Brainiac 5’s computer mind to save the day, while Atom Girl and Colossal Boy almost have a moment before her anger gets the best of them.  Lightning Lad is forced to make a decision that leaves his girlfriend Saturn Girl behind, and her loneliness sends her into the arms of Legion lothario Ultra Boy.  Phantom Girl gets Princess Projectra out of the klink after her recent issue brushes with da law, and Invisible Kid catches the Ultra/Saturn couple in their illicit trysting, but just as his flagrante was about to enter her delicto.  Big menaces balances with small character moments, and a healthy dose of melodrama sets it all off in LSH style, for a 4 out of 5 star issue…

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THE FLASH #243: Ever since Infinite Crisis, The Flash’s magazine has been kind of a hit or miss affair.  Fl1.jpgBart Allen’s dozen or so issues weren’t anything to write home about, and the revamped Wally West version of the Flash, with the focus on his family has been a yo-yo, with interesting bits subsumed into inexplicable plots like the whole ‘Spin’ storyline.  This issue has the seeming death of Iris Allen (the younger one, mind you) turn out to be nothing but a swerve, and Wally uses his connection to the Speed Force to absorb the power that has been slowly aging his kids.  The paternal sacrifice is nice, until I realize that it doesn’t seem to do anything at all, making the whole issue seem like a quick-fix for a problem left by the previous writer.  The issue ends with a panel of a smiling Flash running towards the reader, but anybody who’s read anything about Final Crisis knows that his happiness is short lived.  This issue is a slightly muddled 2 out of 5 star affair, (though the art is quite nice) and I’m sure the next will feel like a completely different world, as has happened with every Flash writer change since roughly 2004.

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SECRET INVASION – Av3.jpgRUNAWAYS/YOUNG AVENGERS #2 (of 3): As happened during Civil War, Marvel’s two unrelated (but oddly similar) teen teams are meeting up to have an adventure in the margins of the grow-up heroes’ crossover.  This issue finds Super-Skrull-In-Training Xavin and Skrull-Prince-In-Exile Hulkling on the run from their own people while their teammates look cute and manga-inspired and stuff.  The Vision’s brutal on-panel death in Secret Invasion is revisited, and the kids are left in the crosshairs of a group of Super-Skrulls (including Super-Skrull versions of the New Defenders, The New Warriors, The New Mutants, and other teams that may or may not have new in the name.  Confectionary, aimed at younger readers, and kind of inconsequential, it’s nonetheless not a bad issue, earning 3 out of 5 stars.  Hopefully, the Young Avengers will finally get their relaunch out of Secret Invasion, and we won’t spend another five years waiting for a continuation of what was a pretty compelling story a couple of years ago…

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TEEN TITANS #62: WHAT…  THE… HELL????  This issue starts with Marvin and Wendy (the caretakers of Titans Tower, introduced months ago and seldom seen since for more than a panel or two) in the Titans memorial room, looking at the team’s various deceased members.  I was a bit shocked to see how many TT1.jpgdead Titans there actually are.  Pantha, Kole, Dove I, Golden Eagle, Terra, Osiris, Wildebeest…  Hell, even Raven, Jericho, and Starfire have croaked (though they got better.  While the team recovers from the Terror Titans arc, Marvin and Wendy debate leaving the team, welcome a stray pup that they name Wonder Dog to Titans tower, and I hear Ted Knight’s voice announcing his presence in my head.  Cyborg makes a cameo, telling the kids that they do more around the Tower than they realize, Robin and Wonder Girl have a fight over his returned-from-the-dead girlfriend Spoiler, Ms. Martian takes a leave of absence, and then…

…WENDY AND MARVIN BRUTALLY MURDERED ON PANEL BY WONDER DOG!

WHAT THE #&$&? The issue ends with someone that I believe to be Ares petting the murderous hound, while the Teen Titans obliviously play in their workout room.  I…    I just don’t know what to say.  This issue just…  disconnects halfway through.  The killings are completely unexpected (which is good) but also don’t make any narrative sense (which is bad.)  It just feels like that pesky ‘clearing the decks’ again, getting rid of loose plot points before a change of direction.  I can’t go any higher than 1.5 out of 5 stars on this bizarre hybrid of an issue.  I got nothin, folks.

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MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #12: Rodrigo put in his two cents on this issue in a recent podcast, but I thought I’d ring in two weeks late as well.  The Vanguard story wraps up in this issue, as Blade, Dominic MCP1.jpgFortune, a no-longer dead Yelena Belova, and Micromax do… something.  I don’t know quite what, actually, nor am I sure who the other guy in the epilogue of their story is.  Machine Man’s story ends with a kind of wacky nervous breakdown, or at least the closest thing to a nervous breakdown that he can simulate, but Aaron and his villain share a hot kiss as he comes to terms with his machine nature.  Two SHIELD agents find out why they say that anything that knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing (and also makes me wonder how Nick Fury kept hiring such corrupt jackasses over the years.)  Weapon Omega concludes, as we see Omega Flight’s new Guardian finally putting his mind together and coming to grips with his powers.  Machine Man was a hit, Man-Thing was a hoot, Weapon Omega was okay, and Vanguard incomprehensible (and immediately contradicted by the return of Blade in another book, I’m sure) for an above average 3 out of 5 star rating…  Anthologies are increasingly rare today, but this one hasn’t been too bad thus far.

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