Or – “Wasn’t There Another Reviewer At Major Spoilers?Â Some Old Dude?”
It’s a little known fact that the month of December contains space-time anomalies that keep you from ever completing anything on time.Â Add to that a new paradigm at my office, wherein my team load has doubled and my patience halved, a tendency to want to spend time with my friends around the holidays, a scanner that works about half the time and my recent birthday, and I admit it…Â I may have been neglecting my reviews.Â Still, t’is nobler in the mind to beg forgiveness than it is to ask permission, so I’m back with a new batch of things you may have already read, but forgot to ask for my opinion on the first time.
Previously, on Everything: On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
12 Issue Secret Wars Miniseries,
11 Hank Pym identities,
10 Doctors posing,
9 cancelled titles,
8 Black Panther candidates,
7 Batman spin-offs,
6 bullets from Deadshot,
FIVE GOOOOOLLD BOOSTERS!!!
3 Fox lawsuits,
2 EIC’s hated by Cory,
And a big giant Rapid-Fire Revieeeewwww!
Did you know that everytime I doÂ a Rapid-Fire Review, I swear this one will be the last one?
House of Mystery #8: I can’t believe that this series is almost a year old.Â It’s one of those books that I didn’t realize how much I looked forward to until it’s here.Â This issue is the third part of a series fleshing out the backgrounds of our characters and the house, focusing this time on Harry the Bartender.Â Turns out that Harry is the first of the regulars to have discovered the HoM, spending what felt like weeks alone in Cain’s empty home, when his brother Abel (both brothers are the same from Sandman fame) falls down the chimney and tells him he’s come to collect the nightmares in his special storage device.Â “A bundt pan?” asks Harry.Â “Oh, don’t w-worry,” replies the portly denizen of the Dreaming, “I have a piece of cardboard for the lid.”Â Heh.Â Abel and Harry fight all the darkness down, and the first patron arrives, leaving Harry surprised to find that the house has become a bar, of sorts.Â He becomes the bartender, and the rest is history…Â Of course, this story is told in flashback while Harry, Fig, and the red-haired pirate chick fight monsters in the House’s basement, while the cute girl from the bar gets her freak on, and while Fig discovers the presence of Miranda, a former patron long-gone, hiding in the catacombs beneath the House of Mystery.Â It’s an interesting issue of a series that keeps improving and deepening.Â There are signs here that this could be Vertigo’s next “Sandman” or “Preacher,” and this book shows the depth and care required to be the flagship of Vertigo.Â 4 stars.
Dynamo 5 #18: The new Dynamo 5 continues their inaugural adventure this month, as things take a less uplifting turn.Â With Maddie Warner out of her coma, team telepath Scatterbrain suddenly recieves an overwhelming mental message.Â “It’s Scrap.Â She’s calling out to me, screaming in her head…”Â We flashback a few hours to find the mercenary Widowmaker gathering a Dark Dynamo 5 to take down Scrap’s new makeshift team.Â The Firebirds, Scrap, Quake, and Vigil go into battle, only to fall one by one at the hands of their nasty counterparts.Â Baby Firebird’s powers are seemingly taken away, Quake’s legs are crushed, and Mama Firebird gets stabbed before Vigil is unmasked…Â AS WIDOWMAKER.Â “You idiot!” she yells.Â “I’m on YOUR side!”Â What the hell???Â Jay Faerber manages to layer on the character moments, as well as giving us a cliffhanger worthy of the most underrated comic on the stands, and I’m desperate to find out what happens next.Â 4 stars.
Teen Titans #65: The story of Wonder Girl’s nephew finally comes to a head in this issue, as Cassie Sandsmark and her remaining teammates (Red Devil, Blue Beetle, Robin and Bombshell) crack skulls with Lycus and his hell-hound, “Wonder Dog.”Â Bombshell takes down the dog by posing as a human Scooby Snack, and the ‘Wonder Girl gets choked by her own magic lasso’ sequence from last issue’s cover actually OCCURS in this one.Â A huge blast of energy leads to Wonder Girl getting… a new costume?Â And, much like her old one, it consists of jans and a Wonder Woman inspired shirt.Â BUT, it’s important to note that it’s a DIFFERENT pair of jeans, apparently.Â And that her powers have been juiced up, enough to wish Lycus into the cornfieldwith her magical powers.Â The issue ends with Cassie and her mom bonding over what Wonder Girl has become, while her erstwhile father, Zeus, looks on.Â The issue ends with a cliffhanger regarding Bombshell’s father, currently being tortured by government spooks under the command of his former wife, Bombshell’s mom.Â Weird ending to a weirdly paced issue that ends a weirdly paced arc.Â Not terrible, just meandering and kinda endless. Â 2.5 stars.
Greatest Hits #3 (of 6): The first thing you need to know here, is that these are NOT the Beatles.Â Sure, Crusader has a bit of Paul McCartney’s populism and infectious smile.Â Solicitor has an edge that reminds one of John Lennon’sÂ change-the-world bravado, and a wife that is driving the team apart.Â Vizier evokes George Harrison’s mystical visionary side, and Zipper is the quintessential Ringo Starr fun-seeker, but they’re not the Beatles.Â We see the Mates in action to open the issue, and then see an interview with a now-old man who has a complete set of ‘Mates’ toys for his long-lost son.Â “He’s a boy, right?Â He’s going to need toys,” says the man heart-breakingly.Â The piece de resistance of his collection, though, is a canister of undeveloped film from the Mates trip into space in the 70′s, which Nick and Kate (our POV characters) purchase for their documentary.Â Back in the day, internal strife threatens to tear the Mates apart, when the aforementioned space trip comes up (ostensibly to end an alien invasion threat) but Kate quickly finds out that the footage may be undeveloped, but it isn’t uncut.Â “Something happened on that mission that the Mates don’t want us to know about.”Â This book is a very weird melange of history, pop culture, comics and and ruminations on fame, and both story and art are top-notch.Â 4 stars.
True Believers #5 (of 5): Payback, Headtrip, Battalus and Red Zone finally go after the big game, capturing SHIELD vice-ramrod Maria Hill for debriefing.Â Iron Man steps in to save his employee, indicating that the Believers must be “held accountable,” a euphemism for punished, I think.Â The battle isn’t nearly as one-sided as you might think, but Payback is separated from the creature that powers her.Â She and Iron Man find that their powers aren’t compatible, with her symbiotic suit disrupting his Extremis virus, but the Big I proves that he isn’t always a schmuck, by letting her go, allowing the True Believers to go about their business, and it is established that he and she can’t interact for long, giving us an out for the True Believers to run rampant throughout the Iron Man-controlled Marvel Universe.Â Ironically, though, he’s out of office now, however.Â Either way, it’s a nice end to a nice little story, and it’s good to see Cary Bates back in comics again.Â 3 stars.
Green Arrow and Black Canary #15:Â Â This issue takes an old cliche and does nice things with it, as it literally takes place during a matter of seconds.Â When a muscleheaded goon takes Black Canary hostage, Oliver is forced to take a shot.Â While the arrow is in flight for those few seconds, we get a flashback of his origin, his history, most of this title to date, and even the revelation that Mia “Speedy” Dearden and Connor “Green Arrow II: Electric Boogaloo” Hawke have left the fold.Â With the focus no longer on the family, but on the titular couple, we see the new writer is in full force.Â Dinah snatches the arrow out of the air a split nanosecond before what would probably have been a clean kill, and stabs the goon with it.Â He overpowers Green Arrow, and snottily asks if Canary has any last words.Â “Just one,” she responds.Â “But I have no idea how to spell it.”Â She then unleashed her full canary cry against his head.Â As the couple sets off for home, we pull back to reveal the consequences of her attack, a musician in a nearby apartment, ears bleeding from being in the path of the cry.Â That’s probably ominous.Â New writer Andrew Kreisberg brings the good stuff here, though a few cliches do get through, and Mike Norton’s art feels familiar enough.Â 3 stars.
Proof #14: The ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ arcÂ continues in this issue, as Lodge leader Leander finally looks into the personal life of former agent Autumn Song (hint: she stuffs and mounts cryptids.) Proof bonds with the Savage Dragon in a cave, one trying to get over hallucinations from fever, the other regrowing his legs, while the lost golem in the New York sewer system meets up with another yeti called Mi Chen Po.Â The Golem’s history is recounted (when he fought a young man called David,Â they called him “Julyat” or “Goliath”) and Ginger Brown, Elvis, and the NYPD find what seem to be demon dogs beneath the city.Â Luckily, the dogs are eaten by the giant sewer alligators…Â so they got that goin’ for ‘em.Â Which is nice…Â Dragon gives Proof a bit of a pep talk (“You think I worry about whether I look like everybody else?Â You think my wife worries about that?”) and the issue ends with the two big men getting ready to step out and crack some skulls.Â The pacing on this title continues to impress me, with events proceeding at their own pace, instead of following standard “fight scene, talk, flashback, fight scene” comics work.Â Riley Rossmo’s art continues to impress, and this book also starts to remind me of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman in all the good ways.Â 4 stars.
Amazing Spider-Man #580: When this book wentÂ weekly,Â I figured it was nothing more than a publicity exercise, and I was sort of correct.Â But ‘Brand New Day’ has brought us a freshish perspective on the web-slinger, something lacking since before the Clone Saga.Â This issue is a done-in-one, during which old West Coast Avengers villain The Blank knocks over May Parker’s bank, and Spidey takes it personally.Â An old cast member returns to the fold (one who looks a lot like Tony Isabella) and we find what happened to the Blank years ago when Graviton threw him out to sea (his power belt merged with his body, and he’s trying to steal cash to get it fixed before he blanks out forever).Â Spider-Man overcomes the villain’s forcefield by encasing him entirely in webbing, and handing the huge ball over to the cops.Â It’s a cute little issue, without too many long-range consequences, with some nice art and little baggage.Â Maybe Spider-Man should be married, and maybe he shouldn’t, but at least the creative team is doing something with Marvel’s flagship character that doesn’t make me roll my eyes.Â 2.5 stars.
P.S. 238 #36: I don’t know how many people read this title regularly, and that’s a shame…Â The story of superhuman kids at a school for powered beings is a fun one, with references galore, and some nice storylines as well.Â This issue finally wraps up the overarching plotline of a war between order and chaos, featuring Malphast (the offspring of a chaos demon and a lord of order) and Cecil the paranoid kid who thinks everyone is an alien teaming up to save the world.Â For the first time we see superhero parents in action, and the world is saved by the power of “meh,” as Malphast casts a spell that makes the whole world not care at all for a bit.Â The only non-super kid in school, Tyler Marlocke’s dilemma is given closure as well, as his superhuman clone gets adopted into his family, gets a name (Toby) and both boys learnÂ that his great power comes with great responsibility, asÂ Toby gives up a bit of himself to save the day.Â It’s really fun, really well-written and drawn, and it makes me sad to think that most of you have probably never heard of it.Â 4 stars.
Immortal Iron Fist #20: Okay.Â Fraction, Brubaker and Aja are gone.Â Swierczynski’s first story arc has dealt with a mysterious Iron Fist killer, whichÂ has put Danny on unfamiliar ground, and put him at a disadvantage, which I think I have been poorly responding to because it makes our hero lookÂ less awesome.Â This issue changes all of that.Â After a quick flashback of the last time the creature got close to the egg of ShouÂ Lao the undying, we find the murderoud dragon-spawn ready to pierce Danny’s sternum and rip out his guts, just as Danny’s traitorousÂ administrative assistant reveals that she’s pregnant with the monster’s baby.Â The Immortal Weapons break into the creature’s apartment, and find a map that seems to lead to the lost 8th city of heaven, and implies that it’s the creature’s home.Â Â Iron Fist finally manages to get the better of the creature by eschewing his kung fu forÂ pure rage, punching with no art until the creature dissipates.Â Cut back to the future scene from the first issue of this arc, as we see the mysterious little boy is the dragon/adminstrator baby, andÂ MistyÂ wishes Danny had never left…Â which he and the otherÂ Immortal Weapons do, in search of the lost city.Â It’s interesting, it’s still good, but it doesn’t quite capture the magic of the first 16 issues, and Travel Foreman’s art does nothing for me.Â Hopefully, the next arc will pick things up a bit…Â 2.5 stars.
Avengers – The Initiative Special #1: This issue starts with a team-up between the Heavy Hitters (Nevada’s super-team) and the Desert Stars (Arizona’s version of same) with a reunion of Initiative alumni Komodo and Hardball.Â The two teams take down Zzaxx, a creature of living electricity, before ‘Modo and the ‘Ball take some alone time together to bond.Â He tells her a little bit TOO much of his backstory before the mysterious Hydra goon from previous issues returns with a proposition: steal Komodo’s healing power formula, and they’ll heal his brother.Â She figures it out, and tries to stop him, though, and agrees to give him the formula out of love…Â then calls in the troops to take down Hydra.Â When the Supreme Leader takes her formula, he becomes a giant lizard creature, stomping all over the Vegas strip.Â Hardball finally is forced to decide between good and evil…Â and chooses unwisely.Â Killing the Hydra leader, he becomes the new Supreme Hydra, and leaves his friends behind.Â We also see the secret origin of Trauma (hint: Nightmare got his groove on) in a nicely done issue that ties up loose ends from the first year of the Initiative.Â Good thing, too, I hear this Secret Invasion thing is going on.Â 3.5 stars.
Ambush Bug – Year None #4 (of 6): They say you can’t go home again.Â I say that you can, so long as you remember where you parked.Â This issue starts with an explanation of the missing dialogue from last issue (an entire page was printed without any captions or word balloons) and immediately segueways to a four-page parody of DC editorial (far too injokey, even for me) that ends with Dan Didio dead and the Bug’s Japanese counterpart Mitsu Bishi being thrown through a jet engine.Â Argh! Yle! the evil animated sock returns, and sends Mitsu through the DCU (apparently this issue takes place during 52) on a mission to find the Bug.Â It turns out that he’s at Didio’s funeral, after which he gets kicked in the jimmy by Batwoman, rejected by the Legion of Scrutinizers, and faces his own worst enemies: continuity-laden fanboys.Â The issue ends with an anticlimax, and again I wonder if this is really the way to bring an old character back to the fold, as it’s making him less than attractive to me, an old Ambush Bug fan.Â I can only imagine what those of you who aren’t aware of how cool the Bug used to be must think of this…Â 2 stars.
Detective Comics #487: The Batman crosses swords withe the League of Assassins, thwarthing their attempt to kill a “hack writer” named Sergius (the story is written by Denny O’Neil, who used to work for Charlton under the pseudonym ‘Sergius O’Shaunessy’ and the character seems to be a self-parody, right down to the visual representation) in a story that’s cute and not really all that memorable.Â A Roy Raymond, TV Detective story is equally lightweight, though a Robin solo story showcases some lovely art by Kurt Schaffenberger.Â The real gems of the issue are a short story of The Odd Man by Steve Ditko (in full wacko form here) wherein the strangely garbed protagonist faces down a man who thinks he’s a reincarnated pharoah, and a lovely art job by Dick Giordano on a Batgirl tale.Â My concern is that the $1.00 price tag (more than twice other comics on sale the same week) is going to turn off more readers than it entices, especially when all the contents aren’t equally stunning.Â Still, the works of Ditko and Giordano are worth the trouble it takes getting through the first few clunkers.Â 3 stars.
Guardians Of The Galaxy #7: This series suffers from the same problem that half a dozen other Marvel books suffer from right now:Â they’re deconstructing the status quo without spending the time to actually establish it.Â We open with the history of the Original GotG, a story that won’t actually happen for centuries yet.Â Starhawk reveals to Cosmo the telepathic Russian spacedog that something has messed up the time-stream, causing his Guardians to almost not really exist.Â Meanwhile, with the Guardians having broken up, Rocket Raccoon brings bag old friend Bug of the Micronauts, Mantis of the Avengers, and Groot of the tree-people (alongside Vance Astro) as an interim team of Guardians to fight off a squadron of Badoon zombie soldiers.Â Adam Warlock and Gamora attack the Universal Church of Truth, while Star-Lord gets lost in the Negative Zone and encounters Blastaar, The Human Bomb Burst in a blatant trailer for the upcoming War of Kings.Â Once again, Marvel trips over it’s own feet in getting to the new crossover, without really cleaning up what has gone before.Â Hopefully this book will return to awesome soon, as a book with a gun-wielding raccoon should always be a self-starter.Â 1.5 stars.
Final Crisis – Revelations #4 (of 5): Last time, Cain (in the body of Vandal Savage) took command of the Spectre, leaving host Crispus Allen DOA, and new question Renee Montoya puzzled as to what’s going on here.Â Cain tries to take control of the Radiant (Spectre’s merciful counterpart, never before seen, I might add) but Question intervenes.Â Both hero and villain are amazed to see that she is immune to the power of the Spear of Destiny, and the days is saved when the Huntress arrives and puts a couple of bolts through Vandal’s head.Â As most of Gotham City does a Wes Craven through the streets, Huntress, Question and Randiant return to the safety of a consecrated church and try to figure out what’s going on.Â Cain breaks in, yells something, and begins using the power of the Spectre to broadcast Anti-Life all over the planet.Â The issue ends with Cain smiling, watching as madness engulfs the planet.Â Which would be fine, if the same thing hadn’t just happened in Final Crisis for a different reason.Â Gatekeeper manager Deon says that this is a better Final Crisis than Final Crisis, and I kind of agree with him, but at least Renee Montoya seems to have something up her sleeve.Â 3.5 stars.
The Boys #Twenty-Five: The Homelander’s tantrum last issue (he threw a fighter jet at A-Train) has raised eyebrows,Â as has John Godolkin’s G-Men.Â Vought American takes some steps to “contain” the situation, just as Wee Hughie manages to infiltrate the G-Men’s mansion.Â Disguised as young “mutant” Bagpipe, Hughie mines the mansion with bugs, meets Godolkin himself, and manages to discover thatÂ Silver Kincaid’s boyfriend doesn’t care that she’s dead, either, then encounters a returned-from-the-dead Nubia in the men’s lavatory.Â Godolkin explains that he keeps the brain-damaged girl around because “she’s my child,”Â that all the G-Men are his children, and manages to sound even creepier than the character he’s parodying.Â Butcher’s stoolieÂ Monkey gets a visit fromÂ a pretty young girl in a wheelchair who wants his li’l monkey, Hughie getsÂ freaked out by a visit to the Porn Room atÂ G-Wiz manor (you don’t want to know) and Butcher manages to steal Monkey’s computer while heÂ distracted.Â Â Mysteries abound in this arc, but the dialogue is sharp, the shocking bits shocking, and the art pretty as hell.Â 3.5 stars.