Rapid-Fire Science Theatre 3000 – Manos, The Reviews of Fate
Or – “Off To Meet My Doom, Mom! See You After School!”
Comic book publishing schedules puzzle me. The Twelve hasn’t come out in what seems like a year, while Agents of Atlas is apparently on a bi-weekly status, and Spider-Man is coming out every sixteen minutes or so. Wolverine alone accounts for half the forests destroyed in the United States every month. The major publishers can’t seem to decide whether it’s a market for the celebrity auteur writer, or whether it’s the characters who sell the books regardless of creator. When Wolverine #73 came out a few weeks ago (before the publication of #72) it occurred to me that the entire industry is run by the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert, and that I should really just relax.
Previously, on Everything: Yeah — I’ll say we got burnt! We got burnt all the time!! It was just part of what went with the territory when you got to make your own cool plastic toys!
Agents of Atles #5 & 6: I am completely in love with Jeff Parker’s Venus, and the rest of the Agents of Atlas are impressive in their own right. These two issues showcase the team facing off with the New New Avengers, only to have Peter Parker’s remarkable mind figure out Jimmy Woo’s big bluff. Things are all set to go the “hero teams leave each other alone in a display of respect” route, when M-11 The Human Robot recognizes Wolverine as a spy who once betrays the Agents, and blasts him, causing the New Avengers to action. Venus singlehandedly stops the conflict, the Agents escape, and The Uranian finds the memory of The Cabal in Norman Osborn’s memory. Jimmy and his team head to Atlantis, where they meet up with The Sub-Mariner, and the Prince of Atlantis and Namora reveals themselves to be kissin’ cousins. (Though both mutants with identical powers, they share no blood bond.) As former SHIELD liaison Derek Khanata re-enters the orbit of Atlas, Namora ponders leaving her team for love. Criminally underrated, and excellent as always. 4.5 stars.
The Last Days of Animal Man #1: A puzzling book all around… Set in the not-too-distant future, (next Sunday AD?) this issue features a middle-aged Buddy Baker dealing with the waning of his super-powers and fighting a villain straight out of an issue of Youngblood circa 1993. Wife Ellen has become a business woman, Buddy has continued his stunt career, and it’s all a little bland, to be honest. Even the seemingly life-or-death situation Animal Man ends this issue in doesn’t give it all a sense of danger, or stakes worth of a six issue mini. It’s good to see Gerry conway back in the business (with Len Wein on JLA and a recent mini by Cary Bates, it’s apparently old home week at the new DC) and Chris Batista’s art is excellent, but this issue does little to make me want to spend 3 or 4 bucks a month to see how the whole thing ends… 2.5 stars.
Mighty Avengers #25: Remember America’s favorite game show, Crap on Yellowjacket? Marvel has decided that, after decades of being a third-stringer, Henry Pym is suddenly going to be catapulted up and become the mighty mighty bossman that he’s been afraid to be for lo these many years. The main problems with that? His lab is breaking loose from reality, thanks to Jocasta’s actions last issue. The only means to save it (and also save his secret project that he believes will once and for all win him respect) is in the Baxter Building. And old comrade Reed Richards thinks he’s a second-rate looney tune. (Also, his new costume looks a bit odd.) Add to that the puzzling return of Quicksilver to the side of the angels, (sort of) some muddy art and/or coloring by Stephen Segovia and Noah Salonga, and you have an ultimately forgettable issue. Dan Slott has big plans to legitimize Pym, so they say, but constantly reinforcing his former issues with stability really doesn’t seem like the best way to do it. 2.5 stars.
Avengers – The Initiative #24: Typhoid Mary loses her top, Gauntlet loses his home, the Shadow Initiative loses their cool, and Hardball tips his hand. Turns out that he and the Scorpion are both working to undermine Hydra, but the boy has a really weird way of showing his heroic side. With his lady love Komodo de-powered, Hardball risks everything to make sure she doesn’t get left behind, eventually giving himself up to the Constrictor and getting remanded into 42, the prison for Douglas Adams fans. When the Shadow Initiative returns home, the find Camp Hammond gutted and everyone but Taskmaster gets a pink slip, while the skull-faced copycat gets a job offer from Norman Osborn: relaunch the Initiative and Camp Hammond his own way. That can’t be good… 3 stars.
New Avengers #53: Weird, weird issue. The team is tense (Luke Cage just found out that his wife was in love with Spider-Man in high school) as The Eye of Agamotto seeks out the new Sorceror Supreme. Among the candidates are such luminaries as Doctor Doom, the Hood, and Selene, but the seeming winner of the supreme lottery is The Son of Satan… Madame Masque shoots down the Quinjet while the Hood and Son of Satan crakc skulls. The Avengers keep calling James Barnes Bucky Cap (a shoutout to me, perhaps?) to his irritation, the villains fight and fight until Madame Masque takes a hostage, and gets taken out by what seems to be the REAL new Sorceror Supreme, and the reason why they’ve come to New Orleans. “They call me Brudder Voodoo. What ‘da hell is wrong wit’ you people??” Oh… HELL… YEAH. Even with the suddenly appearing Jamaican accent, the reveal at the end saves this one from doldrums (at least for me.) I sincerely hope it’s not just another big swerve. 4 stars.
New Avengers – The Reunion #4 (of 4): Marvel editorial have been heard to call this book “Mr and Mrs Smith of the Marvel Universe” but I didn’t realize they meant that so blatantly. Hawk and Mock argue, fight terrorists, argue, take down Monica Frappucino together, and stop an explosion by somehow creating a diamond… I don’t know, honestly, it’s kind of a blur, the last 25 minutes of an action movie distilled into comics form. After taking out the AIM threat, the Bartons return to Avengers Compound (now a dilapidated ruin) to say goodbye, and have their big kiss that we’ve been waiting for before launching off into anti-terrorism battles with the remaining SHIELD agents who returned from space with her. Not a bad issue, the biggest problem is figuring out where the hell this fits in New Avengers continuity, especially since this costume is head and shoulders above the one Bobbi wears in that title. 3.5 stars.
Bolt And Starforce Six #1: So, this astronaut is rocketed into space, see? And he interacts with this cosmic energy force called the Enigma Cloud, see? And because of his special radiation suit, he’s turned into energy rather than annihilated, right? I guess the only real unanswered question is why would a government issued radiation suit have lightning symbols and a chest emblem on it. Bolt’s story is the good half of the book, though, even as it blends the origins of the Fantastic Four and Wildfire into one. The second half of this issue showcases the Starforce Six, a group of enigmas, sterotypes and cardboard cutouts as they rocket through the aforementioned Enigma Cloud into another galaxy. The back cover promises that the Six will become superheroes, and all I can think is “Are you threatening me?” My thought is that 20 years later, this book will only be known for the Jerry Ordway cover and for never really finishing this first storyarc… 1.5 stars.
Captain Britain and MI:13 #13: I don’t know if it’s me, or if it’s something about the title, but the last couple of issues of Captain Britain haven’t done anything for me… More vampire hijinks abound in this issue, and Blade is startled by the arrival of Spitfire’s OTHER boyfriend, Union Jack. A fistfight entails, while Faiza laments the death and imminent resurrection of her father as a thrall of Dracula. Norman Osborn can’t help MI:13, and even the Mighty Avengers are out of play, as Britain is surrounded by a mystical force field that keeps anyone out of Drac’s newfound empire. Spitfire finally succumbs to vampire mind-control and her attack splinters MI:13, allowing Dracula to win control of the UK, and the heroes left for dead (or worse.) Another issue which should feel high-stakes and exciting but just sort of… happens. Blade (whom I haven’t liked this much in years) is the real star here, but the overall issue is a bit flat. 2.5 stars.
Doctor Who – The Time Machination: The Tenth Doctor as played by David Tennant is a difficult character to capture, aflame as he is with manic fervor and facial peccadilloes, but artist Paul Grist nails it from the first appearance. The Doctor teams up with H.G. Wells in this issue, evades the attentions of old-school Torchwood Institute lackeys, and even frames a betrayer to take the fall for him (thanks to the fact that multiple Doctors have been in this timeframe, no one is entirely sure what he looks like.) Before exiting, The Doctor plants the seed in Wells’ mind for a story called “The Time Machine,” while narrowly evading his Fourth incarnation and Leela arriving for their adventure in “Talons of Weng-Chiang.” It’s a fun little issue, with cameos by the Sixth and Ninth Doctor, enjoyable even if you don’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of Doctor Who fandom that some of us might. 4.5 stars.
Ex Machina #42: We open with abattle between the Great Machine and Pherson the animal controller (sort of like a telepathic Sigfried without Roy or the bitemarks) and sequeways to intrigue in New York City politics. Mitch Hundred is revisited by an emissary of the governor, who suddenly thinks they should be best friends, while an investigative reporter tracks head of security Bradbury into the wilds of New Jersey. Kremlin’s plan to bring down Hundred’s political regime to try and get the Great Machine back into action. Nothing wrong with this one, but it’s not setting any great fires either, and a second consecutive issue ends with people being eaten by rats (under the control of Pherson or someone very much like him.) I kind of feel like I’ve read this issue before, honestly, and I really hope that this series gets it’s groove back soon. 2.5 stars.
Final Crisis Aftermath – Run #2 (of 6): More of the series marketed as a follow-up to Final Crisis that’s really just the unpleasant adventures of a completely amoral jackass. Human Flame wins his fight with the mob, but loses the money and ends up on the run again. His flight leads him into the court of General Immortus (one of the Doom Patrol’s old nemeses) along with other lamers like Condiment King, Sportsmaster, Mr. Polka-Dot and guys who make them look like the Justice League of America. He is surgically rebuilt (in a horrifying sequence, he awakens on the table to see his body being sliced and mutilated into a cyborg body full of flame-throwers (yet still wearing his porn star mustache.) Flame finds the price of his powers when it is revealed that the pain sensors in his hands still register heat, leaving him screaming and indentured to Immortus if he wants to live. I’m still reading this one in the hopes that he’ll get the beating he so richly deserves. 3 stars.
Green Lantern #41: Let’s take a moment and be honest here: The vaious hued Corps that we keep seeing in this book can’t survive indefinitely. They’re likely to be winnowed out by Blackest Night, with the remaining portions of the emotional spectrum left in a universe forever changed (until the next big crossover.) Agent Orange is interesting, don’t get me wrong, as interesting as any of the various colored Lantern groups out there, and this issue’s explanation of why the Guardians don’t enter the Vega System is well-done, but the gruesome moment where Hal Jordan’s hand is chopped off so that Larfleeze can possess the blue ring of power feels desperate, a “LOOK! LOOK HOW SERIOUS THIS ALL IS!!!” moment. Maybe it’s going someplace great, but this issue didn’t do if for me, with too much maneuvering and manipulation, and not enough forward motion. Have we, to anyone’s knowledge, ever seen the Guardians regrow a limb before? Wanna bet that we will soon? 2.5 stars.
Green Lantern Corps #36: The secret origin of Soranik Natu is given here, as Sinestro tells her how he’s always kept tabs on her, even burning thae strange tattoo into her face while she slept (The Sinestro family’s coat of arms, and wouldn’t somebody question a child suddenly waking up with a facial tattoo?) Soranik angrily drives dear old dad away, and he goes, with a stern warning to beware the Red Lanterns. Meanwhile, the majority of Green Lanterns on Oa fight it out with escapees from the sciencells and Sodam Yat manages to tap into the Ion power by endangering his life. Faced with the realization that he’s probably going to die for good (even if the Legion meets him 1000 years from now) Sodam uses the last portion of his power to turn the red sun of Daxam yellow, giving us a lovely “Oh, crappit” moment from a suddenly fearful Mongul. It’s more effective than Hal’s story, though that’s partly due to the fact that it’s got a wider canvas, and makes the impending War of Light seem more epic in scale. 3.5 stars.
Guardians of The Galaxy #14: Adam Warlock. King Vulcan. Each a product of their eras, each inexplicably powerful, each in a very nebulous sort of way. While the 70′s meets the world of the 21st century, Starlord fails to sway Black Bolt, and Phyla-Vell (now calling herself Martyr) shows herself to be shrewd and merciless, taking Crystal of the Inhumans hostage to manipulate the Royal Family and inciting a fight in the Inhuman throne room. Warlock shows a disturbing side of himself (as his power is drained, he slowly transforms into someone greatly resembling the Magus, his evil future self) and the Guardians all head for home turf, only to find TWO armies (The Inhuman Royal Family and the Imperial Guardegion of Super-Heroes) attacking them right there in their lair. Next issue promises badassery in the form of Cosmo the dog and Rocket Raccoon fighting side-by-side, which will bring me back for sure. A solid bit of business from Marvel… 4 stars.
House of Mystery #14: The downward spiral of this once-fascinating book continues, as we focus on Fig’s insufferable father as he tries to explain to Harry the barkeep that Harry doesn’t really exist, that he’s only just a construct of the House itself. Problem is, his explanation is so vague and metaphysical that it ends up meaningless. Gilbert Hernandez contributes some beautiful art to the story of a young werewolf caught between two warring clans, ala Romeo and Juliet, but it’s part of the enigmatic subplot, and doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. At issue’s end, the denizens of the House of Mystery are armed, and an army of ghostly thingies is on the march to oppose them. With anoy luck, somehow next issue will give us clues to what’s going on as well as the requisite moments of suspense and stuff. 2.5 stars.
Justice League of America #33: The last few issues of this title have had some very misleading covers, and this one joins them, as Dharma barely appears in the issue, and seems to be quite dead when he does. The JLA (in it’s current Firestorm/ Green Lantern/ Doctor Light/ Vixen/ Zatanna mode) mobilizes against Starbreaker, with a little help from Icon, Hardware and Paladin (the alternate universe cowboy Batman from the recent Vixen solo stories.) Anansi tells Vixen that he needs her to act as his agent, and Icon ,rather than Dharma, fights against the cosmic vampire. Cover-featured Superman and Black Canary don’t appear in the book at all, annoying me to no end. This issue is a decent middle chapter, but the overarching menace of Starbreaker and the Shadow-Thief is so muddled as to be meaningless, and the firing of writer Dwayne McDuffie doesn’t leave me much hope that it’ll be a coherent ending. 2 stars.
Justice Society of America #27: This issue continues the trend of “I have no idea how we got here” as Obsidian flips out and locks four of the JSA in their brownstone, while the others try to figure out what the threat is. Atom-Smasher and Mr. Terrific are horrified to see some sort of magical thing take over Stargirl and cause her to suddenly attack with all her stellar energy powers, breaking through Obie’s shield. The energy reveals itself to be the ghost of a World War II villain called Kung, transporting a chunk of the JSA to 1945 Japan, while the rest of the team is visited by the Spectre, a natural guest star when dealing with the supernatural. JSA has felt off-kilter the last couple of months, focusing on Atom-Smasher and other older characters, while half a dozen brand-new cast members are giving little development. With any luck, this issue will lead into a fantastic new start for the original super-team, but this one ain’t it. 2 stars.
The New Wave #1: A bi-weekly comic book? How can this be? Next thing you know they’ll give us a weekly series with top-name creators and a coherent storyline! (Probably not in this century, though…) This issue serves as a prequel of sorts, as the titular super-team has already been assembled and appeared in an issue of Miracleman a few months prior, but this issue shows the beginnings of the formation of the New Wave, as Doctor James Holmes (stationed aboard an orbiting space station) engages in an experiment which brings a flying, super-strong alien to Earth. The bi-weekly frequency means half-length stories, though, and the break in this one comes at a particularly incoherent time. It’s well-drawn, but the story and dialogue are troublesome at best. The cover looks interesting, and I wouldn’t mind finding out more about some of these characters and their abilities. Hopefully, it won’t go under like all the other independent publishers seem to do these days… 2 stars.
No Hero #5: After last issue’s public relations nightmare, Carrick Masterson tries to regroup. With three of his “heroes” dead, and the newest recruit left horribly disfigured (and quite possibly completely insane) by the drugs that make them superhuman, it becomes clear that it’s time for a Hail Mary pass. Veteran hero Redglare takes new kid Revere out into the streets to “patrol” for danger, (followed, of course, by a huge group of photographers and press) and the twosome encounters a plane crash that could endanger the whole city. Rever’s first act as a hero is to barely managing to dispose of the plane with minimal loss of life… When Smoke Lightning and Fasthawk (the last remaining members of Carrick’s super-team) arrive, they compliment him on his handling of the crisis, and blithely point out that they caused it for the kind of good press a superhero save would engender. Revere’s transformation is proven to be more than physical, as the formerly moral character thanks them for their efforts and remarks that he’s a real hero, now. It’s creepy as hell, while remaining compelling to look at. 3.5 stars.
Nova #25: With the power of Quasar in his hands, Richard Ryder confronts the mind of Ego controlling the Worldmind of Xandar and turning it into a paranoid lunatic. Back on Earth, Nova’s brother
Robbie abandons his post to help out the Novas in the field, as Rich discovers that Worldmind cannot be unstrung from the evil of Ego. With a little help from former Quaze Wendell Vaughn, he manipulates the Worldmind into a classic “Jim Kirk computer freeze-up moment,” and gets back the power of the Nova Prime. Worldmind reboots itself, and it’s new face and personality is that of Ko-Rel of Hala, the Kree soldier who died as Rich’s first recruit to the Corps. The issue ends with the ominous return of Garthan Saal, the Supernova, who offers the interim Shi’ar Nova Prime from last issue a deal… Well-done, ominous stuff from Abnett and Lanning, and t’s good to see Rich back in the blue and gold saddle again. 4 stars.
Seaguy – The Slaves of Mickey Eye #3 (0f 3): SEAGUY! Scourge of evil, defender of the weak, and the finder of lost children! The wet-suited wonderman gets in his shots at the omnipresent Mickey Eye this issue, as She-Beard gets a shave and is mind-controlled into almost marrying the evil Seadog. Seaguy and Chubby Da Choona free her from her mental slavery (with cake!) and She-Beard, Doc Hero and Seaguy destroy Mickey Eye Park from three different (somewhat coincidental, I might add) angles. In the chaos, Seadog’s constant butterfly companion offers Seaguy riches and women to serve him, but the big guy has another mission: defeat She-Beard in combat so he can earn her undying love. Hours later, they’re still fighting and SG admits that he’s just using what sword moves he knows to keep the whole thing going as long as he can. She-Beard throws aside her weapon and they kiss passionately in the wreckage of the amusement park. I don’t know what the hell it’s all about, but damned if it isn’t exciting as all getout… 4 stars.
Teen Titans #71: Ravager returns to the new Teen Titans (not to be confused with the New Teen Titans) only to find that if you assume people don’t want you around, people will eventually not want you around. Wonder Girl tells her that she’s free to stay, but that they had best avoid one another for a bit, and Ravager assumes the worst. She gets herself put on a prison detail with Bombshell (a former traitor to the Titans, for those who still remember the events of One Year Later) beats the bejeezus out of the atomic teen (with the help of a power nullifier) to make sure that bombshell has the team’s best interests at heart, then exits dramatically to walk the Earth and have adventures. Were this an issue of “Ravager” I’d give it top marks. Since it’s ostensibly an issue about a TEAM of teen heroes, I have to downgrade it a bit… Still, it’s better than the recent “Deathtrap” crossover clusterschmozz. 3 stars.
Wonder Woman #32: Genocide is still being treated as if she were the most dangerous and powerful creature ever while remaining deadly dull (something we call “Doomsday Syndrome,” see also Bane and most Magneto stories since 1990) and Diana is mortified to have to tell Nemesis the truth to save his life: She never loved him, just considered him a decent choice for a mate. Genocide crosses the last line, and Wonder Woman slashes the creature with her tiara, knocks it into space, forces it to burn up on re-entry and then RIPS her lasso from it’s godforsaken carcass in the space of a couple of pages. In a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it cameo, Red Circle/Archie Comics hero The Shield makes his New Earth debut, just in time for J. Mike Straczynski’s upcoming miniseries. There’s also some nonsense with the male counterpart for Wonder Woman and Zeus’ group of “Manazons,” measuring Diana’s worth or something. Well-done art but a meandering story, combining into an overall “meh” experience. 2.5 stars.
Just push the button, Stephen.