Rapid-Fire Reviews Unlimited: 3 Fast 3 Furious

by

Or – “Cut Me Some Slack, I Been Working For A Promotion…”

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My day gig is a study in many things…  Management theories.  Inappropriate dress.  The mating habits of the Bisexuals Of The Plains.  But one thing that it is not, and has never been, is uncomplicated.  Thus, I have come to you, our Faithful Spoilerites, with another batch of mini-reviews, just like a Chili’s mini-burger entree only less likely to make your @$$ look like a truck.  (Also, be aware that I just barely decided not to do this one in limerick form, in honor o’ th’ wearin’ o’ the green…)

Previously, on Everything: Worlds lived, worlds died, chicken in the bread pan pickin’ out dough, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but the best of times are when I’m alone with you, some rain, some shine on you crazy diamond dogs, dogs of war in a world gone mad, man, and someone left a cake out but the pump don’t work cause the vandals took the handles, while love makes you yearn to the skies, love will tear us apart, love will keep us together, love is a many splendored thing, all you need is love, love on the rocks, love like a tidal wave rollin’ over my head, rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ on the riverboat queen of hearts on fire from on high, higher and higher your love keeps liftin’ me, lift us up where we belong to the city belong to the night, on the seas of ancient Greece where burning Sappho laughed and sang and stroked the wine-dark seas in the temple by the moonlight, Wah Dee Doe Dah.

Av1.gifAvengers – The Initiative #22: More fighty fighty, as Clor (because Ragnarok is a terrible name) faces down the remnants of the New Warriors, old-skool edition.  Vance Astro tells Clor he’s a cheap copy, Ultragirl goes back to her old costume, Tigra flips out when she almost gets hit in battle (she’s pregnant, presumably by Skrull Hank Pym) and another Scarlet Spider bites the dust.  Meanwhile, the Shadow Initiative invades Madripoor to find Hardball, who has apparently started an affair with The Scorpion (teenage hardbody midriff baring version.)  I suspect that they’re both working underground to undermine Hydra, but that’s just me.  Thor Girl gives up her crush on Trauma, who seems vaguely disappointed, and the Warriors take MVP’s body home for a decent burial.  Humberto Ramos’ art feels oddly unfinished throughout the issue, though, and undermines the story a bit.  2.5 stars.

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D51.gifDynamo 5 #20: Team strongwoman Scrap makes the easiest move ever, (thanks to the teleport stations) Visionary and the younger Firebird continue their flirtation, and it’s Valentine’s Day!  Of course, in Tower City, that means combat, as War Chest (heh) and Strong-Suit battle it out because he hurt her feelings.  Their battle brings in Dynamo 5, who get involved with the improbably large-chested villain and her sweetie (“Dude, I have never been more jealous of your x-ray vision,” says Scatterbrain to Visionary) and he finally gives up to save his relationship.  Scrap signs up for an online dating service, while Father Gideon (last seen in issue #0) shoots Synergy (the OTHER illegitimate child of Captain Dynamo) right in the face, recovering her memories the hard way.  Ominous stuff, and a well done issue, with cute pokes at superhero costumes and specifically Power Girl throughout.  3 stars.

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EM1.gifEx Machina Special #4: Mayor Mitchell Hundred has a bad day, as he rolls out a new plan to help power New York City with wind turbines, only to have his main opponent in the media murdered by a nut who claims Mitch told him to do it.  He discovers that a wacko called “Gardener” has been growing vegetables fertilized with Mitch’s own powered blood (ewww!) and has been having visions that order him to kill.  And why did the newspaperman hate Mitch?  Because he ordered him to use recycled newsprint, at a higher cost.  Of course, he didn’t order the comic book companies to do it, so making the Mayor think that his own biases have affected policy.  It’s got some nice character moments, but doesn’t really stand up on it’s own as a story.  2.5 stars.

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GABC1.gifGreen Arrow and Black Canary #18: I’ll say it right now.  I’m just about done with this series.  Ollie and Dinah have gone from nicely complimentary couple to terse badass and sensitive girly-girl who talks him down from his rages in no time at all, and it’s just not working for me.  Oliver tortures his old villains to find Merlyn the archer, while slowly morphing into Batman.  Meanwhile, Cupid kills more of his Ollie’s sparring partners (none of whom I ever heard of, but I hope they weren’t made up just for this issue) before murdering Brick to prove her love.  She then gives Green Arrow a gift:  Merlyn, wrapped up, drugged up and set free so that he and Oliver can have one last slapfight together.  We end the issue wondering if Arrow will kill Merlyn, since he’s admitted that he’s glad the other villains are dead, but…  I really don’t care all that much.  Andrew Kreisberg has written a Batman story here, and it doesn’t work with Oliver’s voice.  1.5 stars.

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GG1.gifGuardians Of The Galaxy #10: Rocket Raccoon came up from his room, and held up a gun to his rival…  Blastaar fights, Skeleton Ki sucks, Jack Flag actually has a badass moment or four while the secondary Guardian team (Groot, Rocket, Mantis, Bug and Major Victory) move to free Jack and Star-Lord from their imprisonment in the Negative Zone prison.  Gamora and Adam Warlock infiltrate the Universal Church to find a cocoon that purports to have the body of the REAL Adam Warlock in it.  Starhawk and Major Victory talks about how the future is broken, and the War of Kings is clearly about to start, because the whole Kingdom metaphor is beaten senseless while nothing much really happens with it.  It’s a “Meh” issue, even with a ton of Rocket Raccoon and Groot.  2 stars.

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HB1.gifHellblazer #252: John’s metaphorical scars are made entirely literal, as his body continues peeling and shedding horrific bleeding messes of skin.  His ladyfriend Phoebe is haunted by the body of a child she never brought to term, and John finds that his scar is forming a huge bloody “L”…  for Lucifer? Phoebe’s “child” returns, and shares a cup of tea with John before J.C. smashes in it’s skull with a piece of sculpture, then burns the remains in a quasi-mystic ceremony, during which he finds what the “L” really stands for: Liverpool.  It looks as though John Constantine is headed for home, and all hell is coming with him.  Literally.  3.5 stars.

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HM1.gifHouse Of Mystery #11: What had such promise continues to deteriorate with this issue, as Fig’s father returns to try and explain the story of the House, but only serves to be the biggest douchebag in the world.  He tells a story of a place between places, where a city once stood, and a strange tale of noblewoman and penniless young men that seem to be him, or at least a forebearer thereof.  We see one of the escapees from the House on her way home (and it’s creepy as heck, lemme tell yas) while Fig’s dad reveals that Harry the bartender is keeping them all hostage in the house, winning the loyalties of Cress the pirate barmaid before nailing Fig, all the while telling her “I’ve been in love with you for years.”  Creeeepeeee.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but as the secrets unfold, it seems like there’s not a lot of substance in these shadows.  2.5 stars.

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Noble Causes #39: The true story of how Celeste Noble ended up hooking up with Colonel NC1.gifComet is told, starting with a time rift, and ending with her stuck in the past.  It’s a neat little device, as the flashbacks are told with the old-school dot-pattern coloring, 70’s Marvel art style, and even browned backgrounds to simulate an old comic.  The only issue that I have is how Celeste’s midriff baring tube top costume plays in the 1960’s, but that’s a minor issue.  After months and months in the past, falling in love with the good Colonel, Celeste falls deathly ill, a side-effect of temporal displacement, before being rescued by Doc Noble.  She returns home to marry her now-senile love, and all is right with the world.  After the story is told, we find that she has been explaining to Hunter Blackthorne, revealing how she knew about his manipulation of the family in previous issues, making him promise to drop his grudge against the Nobles.  Meanwhile, Olympia Noble is stunned when husband Doc kisses his former wife Gaia, freshly out of jail.  It’s a very nice issue, very sweet, with an awesome flashback story done very well.  4 stars.

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No.gifNova #22: Richard Ryder is powerless, drummed out of the Corps, while the Worldmind goes on a major recruiting drive, pulling dozens of humans into the Nova Corps to fill the available Centurion uniforms.  He also manipulates the new Centurions emotions and body-chemistry without their knowledge, while Richie heads for Project PEGASUS for a science assist.  While there, he asks them to prove he isn’t crazy, and lures his brother Robbie (now a Nova himself) to the Project to prove a point…  Once isolated from Worldmind’s mental manipulation, Robbie realizes he’s been controlled, but an attack of the Novas puts him right back in Worldmind control.  Rich realizes that Worldmind is the one that has lost it’s mind, but there’s worse news on the horizon: his body is breaking down from the strain of holding the Nova force back.  Richard Ryder has only a few hours to live…  Good, tense issue.  4 stars.

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Secret Six #7: The roadtrip to Gotham continues, with the Six vowing to take down rogue SS1.gifmember Deadshot, while the Tarantula realizes what ‘Shot is up to.  “Did you ambush your comrades to save their petty little lives, Mr. Lawton?”  Upon arrival, though, all hell breaks loose, as the Society of Super-Villains falls upon them en masse, under the tutelage of former Sixer the Mad Hatter.  The teams fight hard, but the Six is outgunned and outnumbered, forcing Bane to make the hardest decision of his life.  To save Scandal Savage, he juices himself with Venom again, ripping through villains like a hot knife through an artery…  or however that goes.  Junior arrives to claim her property, and Tarantula sacrifices herself (and Junior) to save the lives of the Secret Six.  “I know what you ask your victims, Junior.  WE DIE!”  Rag Doll throws Mad Hatter off a bridge this time, and the Society disbands, thinking the card a fake.  Which doesn’t keep Scandal from hiding it in her bra anyway, y’know, just in case?  A nice twist-filled tie-up to a great arc.  4 stars.

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SW1.gifSecret Warriors #2: The face of Baron Strucker is seen for the first time in years, as the head of Hyrdra destroys his own forces to stave off Skrull invasion, in a flashback to some time ago.  Meanwhile, Nick Fury deals with the fallout of last months big reveal (apparently SHIELD ain’t all it was cracked up to be, which isn’t exactly a new conceit, mind you) while the son of Ares tells them all their futures.  Of course, any question asked of a deity, even a seven year old deity, comes at a cost, as the team finds out the hard way.  The Viper dumps her boyfriend Silver Samurai to return to the Hydra fold, gathering with other cell leaders (including Strucker, a new Madam Hydra, and some new kids who have Hydra/ monster/ serpent motifs of their own) who gather their power to resurrect Wolverine villain The Gorgon (who apparently did something bad and got turned to stone and shattered at some point.)  It’s a nice story, and Stefano Caselli’s art is characteristically good, but they’re quickly squandering their goodwill with byzantine plotting too early in the book’s run, if you ask me.  3 stars.

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SKS1.gifSkull The Slayer #1: Marv Wolfman writes the “Stranger in a Strange Land” tale of Jim Scully, who accompanied by several strangers, takes a fateful planeride that leads to him being stranded in the Laaaand of the Loooost!  We get Jim’s backstory as well: Viet Nam vet, labor camp survivor, all-around all-American tough guy, who is uniquely suited to survive in the world they all find themselves in, a world of dinosaurs and remote jungles.  HIs survival skills keep them from starving, and his combat chops help him to survive a battle with a raging T-Rex, only to end up rendered unconscious, and helpless as mysterious men with axes approach.  It’s not a bad issue, with some pretty impressive art by Steve Gan, though Marv Wolfman’s script has some enormous cliche moments in it, especially chunks of Skull’s life-story.  30 years later, I’ll wager that there’s no real memory of this guy, no matter how high his creative pedigree.  2.5 stars.

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SZ1.gifSuper-Zombies #1: The book so bad, we reviewed it twice. And both times, our reviewers found serious issues with the entire thing.  When a retro-virus causes super-powers, it’s a cliche.  When genetic engineering leads to mindless zombies, it’s a cliche.  When both happen in the same book, it’s a gonzo bull-moose el bonzo seco whopper of an uber-cliche, and that’s just wrong.  Chris Claremont-era X-Men dialogue and melodrama welded to a plotline stolen directly from Stracynski’s ‘Rising Stars’ make for an issue that’s more fun to mock than it is to read.  The presence of a gun-toting loon called “Solid Citizen” is also good for a laugh or two, but overall, this feels like someone’s high school superhero characters (and we all had them, don’t lie) put in a context that wouldn’t work even if we knew what was going on with the heroes.  1 star.

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Teen Titans #68TT3.gif: Kid Devil’s powers seem to be permanently gone, but the repercussions remain:  Wonder Girl is appalled as his stupidity, Blue Beetle is worried for his pal, and Kid Eternity offers to let K.D. read the contract he signed that sold his soul in the first place.  Eternity fills us in on his backstory, how working for the Lords of Order turned out to be a front for the Lords of Chaos, and how he died once, but “it didn’t take.”  Heh.  Kid E finds his old mentor, while Kid D. finds Blaze (new ruler of Hell) and almost sells his soul AGAIN.  This kid shouldn’t be allowed to sign a CHECK, much less an infernal contract.  Eternity gives Devil a moment with his lost aunt Marla, the woman who inadvertantly caused him to sell his soul in the first place, with Kid Devil realizing that his life isn’t over, even without hell powers.  The backup tale gives us Ed Benes pencils, and a confusing story of the Titans deciding to rebuild, with even Bombshell chipping in to help, and more “Origins and Omens” dark portents.  Not a bad issue at all, and it’s good to see this title with some momentum.  3.5 stars.

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Wonder Woman #29: Wonder Woman’s battle with her very own killer mutant thing (this WW1.gifone called Genocide, rather than Doomsday as Superman’s was) continues onward, with innocents dead, Donna Troy turning on Wonder Woman in a rage, the Justice League defeated, and the Cheetah in action.  Zeus confronts Kane Milohai, who has loaned Wonder Woman his powers, asking the deity nicely to give up Diana’s love, but ending up in a big fighty fighty.  Cheetah attacks, cutting Wonder Woman to ribbons before revealing that Genocide has stolen Etta Candy.  Zeus kills his rival, just as Wonder Woman unleashes her full power on the Cheetah, taking her down, even while beaten bloody herself.  Another Origins and Omens tale follows, in hich Wonder Woman finds blood on her hands (Hmmm…  I wonder what that could mean?) and Scar continues to bleed her black tears all over the place.  Get that dwarf a Swiffer or something, wouldja?  This issue is maddening in some aspects, but it does make me want to see what will come of all this, and the art is very, very good.  3 stars.

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