Rapid Fire Reviews LVXXXIII: Dream Warriors

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Or – “What Happens When I Continue To Fall Behind On Everything?”

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What’s the scraping noise?  Looks like the raccoon done busted out the heavy weapons, which means it’s time for another look at some of the comics that were too esoteric, too weird, or too numerous to look at individually: RAPID FIRE REVIEWS!  BRAKKA BRAKKA BRAKKA!  Make sure that the release lever is elevated, and that the debris shield is down, put on your safety goggles and PREpare… to REview!

 

 

Previously, on Everything:  Simpsons Did It!

 

 

 

 

Madman Atomic Comics #12:   Mike Allred’s signature character continues to impress in his newest incarnation…  After spending last issue Mad1.giftalking to ghost in his attic (and that’s not a euphemism) Frank Einstein races across town to find out the status of his beloved Josephine, recently trapped in the body of superhero It Girl.  Joe has been cloned into a new body by Doctor Flem, and she has a surprise for the big guy.  Mike’s new art style is impressive as hell here, and a scene of Jo getting dressed (in a feminine version of Frank’s own red and white costume) is beautiful in texture and shading, as well as serving as a relatively innocent ‘hubba hubba zoot zoot’ moment.  Joe’s return is clouded somewhat by the return of the evil Monstadt, who knocks out both girls and throws them into the alien furnace that powers Dr. Flem’s secret headquarters.  Frank arrives just in time to get knocked out and the issue ends with him ready to be thrown to his doom as well…  Allred isn’t mean enough to kill Joe right after resurrecting her, so whatever is coming should be interesting, but overall, this issue is really focused, really tense, with an underlying sweetness in Frank’s longing for his girl.  3.5 stars.

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Chocolate Dark Reign - New Nation:   These one-shots always infuriate me, because they usually insire me to change my mind about picking up DR1.gifsome new series or another that I had written off.  We start off with a vignette of Nick Fury walking the earth and lamenting the state of things, promoing the new “Secret Warriors” series (which I will buy, at least for 3 issues.)  We also get a fascinating look at the new “Agents of Atlas” series, which I’m buying for Gorilla Man and my love affair with Venus.  There’s a bit with a new series for War Machine that looks pretty good, though I won’t be on board for that one, much as I like Rhodey.  The combination of a grim and gritty take with the simian looking Iron Man-derived mask doesn’t do a lot for me.  We get a cool chunk of story with Ryder of the Skrull Kill Krew taking out a herd of cows, setting up a new Kill Krew story, which I’m on board for, and a cute moment where Mockingbird and Hawkeye fight each other to prove that it’s really them, promoing their limited series, which I wasn’t going to buy until I read this.  Overall, it’s not much more than a coming attractions book, and even if the movies are good, I’m kind of irked at paying four bucks for the trailers.  2 stars.

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BP1.gifBirds of Prey #125:   A gorgeous Frank Quitely cover drags you in, and Scott McDaniel’s interiors don’t hurt my feelings either, as Barbara Gordon and Dinah Lance pursue minor (and pretty awful) supervillain the Caretaker from Platinum Flats to Vegas, dodging hitmen in a classic Allard sports car and bonding as Babs comes to terms with her lost smile.  I suspect that the end of this book is coloring my judgement, but this issue, no matter how pretty, feels a bit aimless and desperate, ending with a dramatic moment that falls flat for me, as Oracle (for the first time in forever) curses her paralyzation.  Tony Bedard has never gotten the voices of Dinah and Barbara to my taste, and this issue doesn’t change that.  2 stars.

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 NA1.gifNew Avengers #48:   Here’s the first hint that Dark Reign is going to do anything for me, as we see a missing moment from the last issue of Secret Invasion, as James “Captain America” Barnes makes a few quiet connections in the rubble of New York.  Days later, a group of heroes including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ronin, Mockingbird, Iron Fist, and Spider-Woman arrives at Bucky’s apartment to discuss the demise of SHIELD, the new World Goblin Order.  Just as they get down to brass tacks, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Ms. Marvel burst in with the revelation that their baby is gone, and BOOM!  We gotta new team!  They quickly round up the Fantastic Four, and start tromping through the bushes to see what runs away, only to find a hidden nest of ex-SHIELD agents, and one last Skrull infilitrator.  The alien almost spills the beans, but gets killed by a drunken SHIELDie, and the issue ends with Luke Cage doing the unthinkable and asking help finding his daughter… help FROM NORMAN OSBORN!!  It’s well-written, tense, and Billy Tan’s art keeps enough of the Leinil Yu to keep his fans happy, while being less scratchy and angry for those of us who don’t like Yu’s work.  4 stars.

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SS1.gifSecret Six #4:   The revelation from last issue (that the mysterious card offers free exit from Aitch Ee Double-Hockey-Sticks) carries over as the Six prepare to deliver the mysterious Tarantula to their employer.  Rag Doll steals an ice cream truck for the getaway (heh) while the mysterious crimelord “Junior” sets off on a collision course, upping the bounty on the Secret Six to 20 million bucks per head.  Bane tests his theory that Scandal just needs a strong daddy figure (“You need to rest.  Lay your head in my lap”) and to the astonishment of everyone, turns out to be possibly right, and the team starts to disintegrate.  They make their way to what seems to be safe haven, but Bane gets jumped by Junior, and the rest of the team is poisoned… by their old friend Cheshire.  Nice character work, a creepy creepy villain, and beautiful art make this one a gem of a book once again.  4 stars.

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HB1.gifHellblazer #250:   Tales of Constantine old and new, sacred and profane, borrowed and blue round out this Christmas special, with the Vertigo star stopping a murderer, watching the spirit of Christmas in action, (David Lloyd of V for Vendetta handles the art on this tale, and it is spectacular, even on a story that takes place entirely around a poker table) engages in some old-school street magic, and unravels a mystery involving honest-to-Pete angels done by what I think is the book’s new creative team of Peter Milligan and Eddie Campbell.  It’s all very Constantine, very dark, very disturbing, with black humor and dry wit, and it’s a nice change of pace to see John so squarely on the side of good and decency, contrasting his usual moral ambiguity.  The issue shows that even Vertigo’s warhorse has some life left in him…  4 stars.

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Ambush Bug - Year None #5 (of 6):   More Dan Didio jokes, even less coherence,Cheeks comes to life, and the debut of a villain called Yellow Snow.  It’s scattershot, occasionally funny, but it disposes with Go Go Chex, who was ostensibly our big villain.  I have no idea what’s going on here, and I’ve loved the Bug forever.  1.5 stars.

 

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Nova #20:   We start off with a well-done flashback to an untold tale of the original New Warriors (Marvel Boy, Firestar, Speedball, Night Thrasher, No1.gifNamorita and “Kid Nova”) as they fight eternal Marvel punching bag Terminus, cutting to Richard Rider hanging out at the old New Warriors crash pad (which, though seemingly abandoned, still has cable.)  Rich is quickly joined by the other surviving Warriors, Vance Astrovik and Angelica Jones, and the threesome discusses times past.  Nova reveals that there’s a whole new Nova Corps online, recounts the tale of how he had a fight with little brother Robbie. (now a Nova Centurion himself) and how his new force of Centurions quickly took down Dragon Manwithout his help.  Vance and Angel give him soe advice before Taylor Foundation security rushes in to try and arrest them.  Nova is surprised by a sudden electrical storm and atmospheric disturbance, and flies out to see Ego the Living Planet in Earth’s orbit…  WEARING THE CREST OF A NOVA CENTURION!  It’s a funny moment that spoofs DC’s rival space policemen and Mogo, and it’s a satisfying issue spotlighting Marvel’s least respected team.  3.5 stars.

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Greatest Hits #4 (of 6):   The Mates fight aliens, Crusader grows up to be Terry Jones of Monty Python, the team disbands, Solicitor and Sister Soul drift into esoterica, and Vizier shows up to transfer Nick and Ethel back to see the TRUTH of what happened when the Mates fought the aliens years ago.  The bloom hasn’t gone completely off the rose, and the story continues apace, and I really like the references to pop culture, the history of rock, and the Beatle-esque moments.   3.5 stars.

 

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IF1.gifIron Fist #21:   The tale of the Iron Fist of 3099 is a very manga tale, with oppressed humans being fed to and dissected by machines to keep the machines functional, and a bearer of the Iron Fist who seems to be only about 12 years old.  Of course, one Immortal Weapon is good, but two should be better, as the machines have cybernetically enhanced the Fat Cobra of the future into a slaying machine.  Iron Fist dies, but his chi lives on, and his sacrifice saves an entire people from their slavery.  It’s an odd little tale, enjoyable, but not as accessible (to me) as it could have been.  3 stars.

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Ma1.gifMarvels – Eye of The Camera #2 (of 6):   Everything old is new again here, as Phil Sheldon deals with a terminal cancer, almost gets back into the paparazzi game, and decides to try a sequel to his wildly popular ‘Marvels’ book (a meta statement?)  Spider-Man cameos, saving him from a mugging, and the story takes place at the same time as the Captain America issues where Nixon is discovered to be the villain behind the Secret Empire, a very dark and cynical time.  Phil decides that his life’s work will be reminding people that the heroes are there to help.  It’s a nice return for Kurt Busiek, but over a decade later, it feels a bit familiar to me.  Great effort, but a little too predicatable in the middle.  2.5 stars.

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Patsy Walker, Hellcat #4 (of 5):  Lots of metaphysical magical stuff, beautiful Stuart Immonen David LaFuente art…  Much like Ambush Bug, I have no idea what is going on here.  The dialogue’s got it’s moments, though.  2 stars.

 

 

 

 

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Avengers – The Initiative #19:   The Initiative Kill Krew leap into action AI1.gifthis issue (sadly, Razorback turns out to be a Skrull) and the fighty-fighty ensues.  3-D Man’s goggles are destroyed, but the power was within him all along (just like Fry and Peter Tork!)  The battle goes well, and the Skrulls are routed, but we see YET ANOTHER lost moment of Secret Invasion, as Skrullowjacket tries to make his escape, only to be trailed by Crusader (himself a Skrull defector.)  Crusader manages to take the faux-Pym down with the power of his Freedom Ring, just in time to save the day.  The Initiative agents arrive, and congratulate Cru on his great job.  “I saved my home,” he smiles proudly…  seconds before the 3-D Man shoots him through the skull.  “What?  Skrull!” says the green-and-red hero, and the issue ends with Crusader wishing that it all could have ended differently and disappearing.  It’s a nicely done issue, but the pacing is breakneck. detracting from the story.  3 stars.

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EM1.gifEx Machina #40:   This is the first issue since the revelation of the Great Machine’s role in 9/11 that I walked away from an issue of this title feeling like they hit a really wrong note.  The whole issue deals with Bryan K. Vaughn and Tony Harris (the real creators of Mitchell Hundred) pitching the Mayor their take on a comic book of his adventures.  Vaughn and Hundred have a good talk, and it ends with Hundred hand-picking his comic creators:  Garth Ennis and Jim Lee.  HA!  Still, that joke aside, it feels pretty self-indulgent, with the creator speaking on-panel as one of his characters, and seemingly working through some issues in so doing.  Not a bad issue, just not the best Ex Machina issue.  2.5 stars.

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MH1.gifManhunter #37:   Another book that I really loved that no longer reminds me of why…  This issue starts with a caption that reads “A few years later,” and throws me for a loop right from the beginning.  Kate “Manhunter” Spencer fights off a villain, only to have a mysterious masked man interfere.  The interloper turns out to be her son, Ramsey, now a young (invulnerable) man.  We meet Ramsey’s boyfriend, see tech wizard Dylan Battles and former Manhunter Mark Shaw bonding, and end with the villain possessing the body of DEO director Mr. Bones.  It’s a lot of exposition and “Hey, it’s that guy!”” which I presume is setting up the end of the series.  It’s not bad, but it is a bit difficult to follow.  2.5 stars.

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TB1.gifThunderbolts #127:   This issue picks up right where last left off, with Bullseye mere millimeters from slicing open Songbird’s jugular vein.  The former Screaming Mimi uses her powers to knock Mr. Poindexter back to hell, and barely evades Venom in her escape.  Stealing the Zeus, the T-Bolts supersonic battle jet, Songbird almost gets away, only to find herself again in the clutches of Bullseye and Venom.  Her savior comes in the unlikely form of the Swordsman, who lets her go, and even fakes her death, allowing the last Thunderbolt with a soul to get out before Chocolate Reign breaks loose.  A nice character study, wrapped around some fighty-fighty, well-executed.  3.5 stars.

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FCS1.gifFinal Crisis – Secret Files:   Anybody remember Libra?  Orange hood, funny pants, supposed to be a major player but only does occasional cameos in Final Crisis thus far?  This issue has his story, from his humble upbringing to his ascension to superhumanity, and his eventual discorporeality.  Of course, the untold part of Libra’s story came when he returned to human form on Apokalips, and became one of Darkseid’s minions.  (Aren’t minions small onions?)  It’s a story that has interesting moments, but nobody has given me a reason to care about Libra, and paying four bucks for his backstory hasn’t done my feelings about him any good.  As for Darkseid, I knew he was bug-#&@$ crazy and evil already, so this issue left me feeling like there’s nothing at all that I didn’t already know here.  1.5 stars.

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