Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 7: City Fall Part 2

This volume collects IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #25-#28, wrapping up the seven-part "City Fall" story arc*, in so much that it collects the last issue labeled as part of "City Fall"...the story arc is here a sort of false construct, as the narrative just sort of bleeds from one issue to another, only the most minor of the sub-conflicts ever seeing real resolution. As serial comics go, IDW's TMNT has been truly serial...probably more serial than most.

The previous volume ended with a dramatic showdown between our heroes and the villains, in which Splinter and the Turtles discovered that The Shredder and his allies were able to "flip" Leonarod through magical brainwashing; making him a loyal warrior serving the interests of the Foot Clan (and trading in his good buy blue mask for a bad guy black one).

In this back-half of "City Fall"—still scripted by Tom Waltz from a plot by Waltz, TMNT co-creator and cover artist Kevin Eastman and TMNT editor Bobby Curnow and drawn by Mateus Santolouco—the now evil Leonardo has joined forces with The Shredder's granddaughter Karai to lead the Foot Clan in their war with rival martial arts criminal organization, The Savate. As fiercely as Leonardo may fight for the Foot, he still has a line he won't cross; he doesn't kill his foes, which causes Karai to doubt his loyalty, but Shredder doesn't want to push his new disciple too far, for fear of breaking the spell.

While the Savate and Foot fight, our heroes engage in their own little sub-plots, as Waltz and company maneuver everyone into another big, volume-closing clash. Raphael gets out of control, and tries threatening and roughing up thugs and dirty cops for information on Leonardo and The Foot. Michelangelo conducts undercover work as a pizza delivery man. Casey Jones is in the hospital, still healing from The Shredder's blow to his interior organs in the previous volume, tended to by April O'Neil (who kisses him, consummating their romantic status) and, occasionally, his friend Angel, a former Purple Dragon gang member.

Meanwhile, Splinter seeks an unlikely ally in Hob, who offers his help in exchange for a favor (He wants Splinter to steal him some mutagen with which he can begin to build a mutant army), Donatello seeks some high-tech gear from his irritable inventor friend to help them fight the Foot and the ghost of the Turtles' mother—a human woman, as in this version of the story, the Turltes are reincarnations of the human children of the human man that Splinter is a reincarnation of—picks at Leonardo's brainwashing, trying to awaken him.

And, in the oddest twist, Casey's abusive, alcoholic father decides to quite drinking cold turkey, rips off his shirt and pretty much immediately turns into Hun in a transformation more rapid than any mutation so far in the series...although there is an asterisk and a footnote saying to "See TMNT Villain Micro-Series #6: Hun" in one panel, so perhaps that explains how Hun grows a few feet and loses about 20 years in a matter of pages.

Hun, by the way, was a character created especially for the second TMNT animated series, the one that ran from 2003-2009. He was the leader of The Purple Dragons, and served as one of the primary villains. He was introduced into Mirage comics continuity in 2008's Tales of The TMNT #56, where he was a criminal who had a particular enmity toward Casey Jones, Casey having scarred and blinded him when Hun attacked him; this is his introduction into the IDW series...although I guess he's kinda sorta been in it all along, just in a different form and under a different name.

It all culminates in an abandoned theater, where The Shredder calls together all of the criminals in New York City (with even Storm and Walter White attending; see below) in order to execute the leader of the Savate in front of them all to prove he's the undisputed kingpin of crime now.
And then Splinter and the Turltes attack, and Waltz, Santolouco and company introduce wave after wave of characters into an escalating battle that fills about 25 pages at the back of the book; that's a pretty respectable amount of action for an American comic book.

The Shredder, Karai, Alopex, Brainwashed Leonardo, The Foot Clan, Hun and a bunch of criminals are all present when Splinter, The Turtles, April, Casey, Angel, Hob, Slash and Casey attack. As the battle starts to favor the Turtles, the creators throw in a suprrise: Bebop and Rocksteady, the mutant warthog and rhinoceros who were bumbling henchmen in the original TMNT cartoon series, now presented as bigger, scarier antagonists, and a genuine threat (The fact that Santolouco draws them gigantic, pretty much proportionate to the Turltes helps; as does the creators giving them a chainsaw and sledgehammer to fight with, although the weapons are dwarfed by their massive hands.

Eastman's variant cover gives a pretty good indication of just how many players there are in this fight scene:
It's essentially the same ending as that of the previous volume—a tie between the two sides, both of which withdraw—only this time the good guys get Leonardo. And Alopex, who defects mid-battle, leaping on The Shredder when he's about to kill Splinter.

As the heroes escape, April mentions that she knows a place where they can hide out while they heal from their wounds. The last panel includes a next-issue box reading, "Next: Northampton," which is, incidentally, the name of the very next collection. Echoing the events of the original volume of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, April, Casey, Splinter and the Turtles retreat to Northampton after a particularly vicious battle with Shredder and The Foot Clan.

As climaxes go, this is certainly a good one, as Waltz and company manage to get almost every character to appear in the series so far in the same room to duke it out with one another.

Putting both Hun from the 2003 cartoon and Rocksteady and Bebop from the 1987 cartoon into a Turtles comic book at pretty much the same time does feel a little forced and uncomfortable; I suppose it will remain to be seen how they work out, but, at least as read in the trade collections, it seems like fan-service (of the nostalgic type, rather than the manga meaning of the term) has overtaken overall quality plotting and storytelling (Alopex's conversion similarly comes out of nowhere...at least, from what is evident in this comic; IDW does tend to leave out parts of the overarching story if its told in one-shots, miniseries or specials of any kind).
At least Santolouco manages to draw the living hell out of Rocksteady and Bebop, making them distinct enough from their bufoonish original incarnations that they seem new here.



*According to the copy on the back cover, this is "The biggest event in TMNT history," which can't possibly be true. Even if they want to define "TMNT history" as whatever happens in the comic books, well, the first volume of the series concluded with a 13-issue story that nearly doubles the length of this one. That story, by the way, was called "City At War" and seems to have inspired the title of this story arc, if nothing else.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Eh, why not? Here's a review of Wonder Woman #38

It's the third issue Meredith and David Finch's still new-ish run on Wonder Woman, continuing their "War-Torn" story arc, in which the titular heroine finds herself increasingly overwhelmed by her many duties. The last issue ended with Wonder Woman flying off to help the Justice League just as her fellow Amazons (and subjects, now that she's their queen) were complaining to her about the fact that she's always flying off to help the Justice League instead of them.

And some alien bug-people were plotting something, maybe.

And the evil queen from Snow White and some co-conspirators cooked a naked Donna Troy in a pot.

All of which naturally leads us to this, I guess.

THE COVER

The previous two cover penciled by David Finch have been pretty bad, but this one? This one is just the worst. DC even moved the logo to the side of the book to better accommodate the drawing, but they might have been better off lowering the figure to hide her legs and keep the logo atop the page, just above Wonder Woman's horned helm.

So this is Wonder Woman in her God of War get-up, a title she assumed from War/Ares in the pages of the previous run of the New 52 Wonder Woman. At least, the horned helm and cape are part of the War garb; I'm not so sure about Finch's other touches, such as putting a WW tiara-esque band around the front of the helm, and the more battle-ready, heavily accessorized version of Wonder Woman's costume.

What is probably most notable about this image is Wonder Woman's blood-splattered cleavage, which I always find to be a pretty perfect metaphor for the target audience of modern mainstream super-comics, and the bloody sword she's holding between her legs, like a surrogate erection.

The closer one looks at the image, however, the worse it becomes. Wonder Woman is not merely crouching down in a fighting stance, sword held at the ready. Look closer at her right leg (on your left). Her foot is visible. Wonder Woman is either running awkwardly at the reader, or maybe jumping, or even flying at the reader. The background is a pretty dark, clumsy attempt at action lines, furthering the effect that Wonder Woman is moving fast at the reader, despite the fact that nothing about her figure suggests that that is the case. Little bubbling clouds of blood appear in her wake.

PAGE 1

This is a four-panel page, which is about average for a Finch/Finch production (there's one eight-panel page, one seven-panel page, and the rest tend to be between two and four panels...the ones that aren't just splash images, or half of a two-page splashes, anyway). It opens with a close up of beautiful woman wearing bits and bobs of armor and other Bronze Age signifiers.

She stares with off into the distance with lifeless, vacant eyes, which means she is either dead, or David Finch drew her, or both.

As the "camera" pulls back, we see that she is indeed dead, and a black Amazon with braids in her hair shouts orders as she runs over this dead Amazon, and some other dead Amazons.

"We'll cover you as long as we can!" she screams in a red-ringed dialogue bubble, pointing her sword off-panel at an unseen adversary.

PAGES 2-3
We see the adversary, presented in a two-page, space-wasting splash that, despite all the space it takes up, still fails to reveal much of the giant monster that is its supposed focus.

It is apparently a two-head dragon of some kind, although Finch doesn't really do anything resembling an establishing shot here, so we only see its heads and forelimbs. Maybe he would have needed a four-page, fold-out splash panel in order to draw a whole dragon...?

PAGES 4-6

Wonder Woman appears for the first time in her book, standing in the background of a panel saying Wha...?. She runs around for a few pages, frantically asking people where Dessa is, and being told off by various wounded Amazons, who say things like, "Do I look like I have time to answer your questions?" and "The injured are too numerous...we dont' have time to remember names."

Wonder Woman finally finds Dessa, the black Amazon with the braids who charged the two-headed dragon, dying on the ground. Her last words are ones castigating Wonder Woman for not being there to help them.

PAGE 7

After an what must have been a simply exhausting to draw three straight pages with panels on them, we get a splash page. This one is of Wonder Woman posing over Dessa's body, looking off into the distance and swearing to kill the dragon that killed her fellow Amazons.

PAGES 8-10

Sword in hand, tear in eye, Wonder Woman flies toward the dragon (see the panel atop this post), which we finally see a full body shot of on page page 8, and is about to attack it when it suddenly bows down before her. Out from somewhere between its necks walks another Wonder Woman, this one dressed like the one on the cover. She tells the first Wonder Woman off, yelling at her about the same basic things the Amazons are all pissed off at her about, and then this Bad Wonder Woman draws a sword and raises it to strike down Good Wonder Woman, who merely turns her head and raises her hands as if to ward off the blow.

PAGE 11

Wonder Woman awakes screaming in her bed. Oh, it was all a dream! A ten-page dream sequence, filling the entire first half of the book. Awesome.

Wonder Woman is covered in blood.
Her hands are positively dripping with it, and her bedsheet looks like a Jackson Pollack painting. No idea where all that blood came from, but I am refraining from making any sort of joke that may be miscontrued as misogynist.

I guess it's possible she was slaughtering cattle or something all day, and was so exhausted she didn't have time to wash up before bed...?

Meanwhile, Discord from the previous, Brian Azzarello-written, mostly Cliff Chiang-drawn run on the series is shown watching Wonder Woman via a scrying pool.

PAGE 12

Donna Troy silently suits up, while the witch lady gives her a pep talk.

PAGE 13-14

Wonder Woman, now in civilian garb, meets her friend for coffee in London. Her friend is Hessia, the former Amazon living in man's world that I believe was introduced in the first arc of Superman/Wonder Woman, in order to give Diana someone to talk to. They discuss Diana's commitment problems with the Amazons, and whether being the God of War will have any sort of negative impact on Diana's life. At one point, Diana bites off Hessia's head, shouting, "I'M NOTHING LIKE ARES!"

If nothing else, being the God of War is making Diana pretty moody.

PAGES 15-18

Wonder Woman's intense coffee talk is broken up by a call from Justice League receptionist Cyborg. Another village disappeared. Remember, this started happening in "War-Torn" part one; that's the reason why Diana tried kicking off Swamp Thing's head and then beating him to death. Because he was at the scene of one such disappearance.

Here, the village seems to have been swallowed up by a volcano? Or it was atop a mountain that became a volcano? I don't really get it. Superman straps a camera and head lamp and other equipment on and descends into the volcano, while Wonder Woman sits next to Batman in the Bat-plane and has a pretty similar conversation to the one she had with Aquaman in Wonder Woman #36.
Underground, Superman encounters sone sort of gate with runes on it, and then some bugs that knock out his camera.
Welp, he's probably dead.

PAGE 19

The wicked witch Amazon, Derinoe, addresses the Amazonian leadership council about the same old "Wonder Woman's never here" bullshit, and, after a little bit of debate that comes down to Dessa versus everyone else, one of the councilmembers tells Derinoe to "bring forth your perfect Amazon, that we might judge her worthiness for ourselves."

PAGE 20
Surprise! It's Donna Troy! This is the book's second full-page splash; coupled with the two-page splash, that means 1/5th of this single issue was devoted to just three panels.

"All hail Donna Troy," Derinoe says from off-panel, "All hail the new queen."

...

Is Donna Troy an Amazon name? "Donna" doesn't sound very Amazonian to me...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Marvel's April previews reviewed

This April will be "WTD Certified" at Marvel Comics. What does that mean, exactly? I have no idea. "Why, That Dormammu!" maybe. Or "Wendigo The Dominatrix."

According to Internet, it is a common acronym for "Win The Day," "Want The Dick?," "What The Deuce?" or "What The Duck?". As there is no question mark in the logo, "Win The Day" seems most likely, rather than one of the questions. Otherwise, "Want The Dick?" seems to be a pretty Marvel-ous thing to have on the cover of their comic books. That said, "What The Duck?" comes from the common mistake of typing a "D" when you want an "F" to text "WTF," so since this seems to be Marvel taking the piss out of DC, who announced and then went back on their plans for a "What The Fuck Certified" month, and a prominent Marvel character who is getting his own book is a "duck," then I guess that's quite possible.

But you'll notice a lot of the solicits for the books they plan to publish in April have credits for a "WTD Variant Cover," the best of these by artists who have yet to be determined, so they'll say "WTD Variant Cover by TBD." Have fun ordering your stock, comic shop owners!

You can read the full solicits here; I highly recommend imaging the characters on each solicited cover asking "Want The Dick?" on all of them, in order to better prepare yourself for seeing the books on the shelves in April.


Why are the Hawkeyes such terrible shots that they keep missing this frog? Why are they shooting arrows at that poor frog in the first place? This cover asks so many pertinent questions!


AMAZING X-MEN #19
CHRIS YOST (W)
JORGE FORNES (a/C)
• Has the Juggernaut returned?
• Is this the last stand of Colossus?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


•Yes.
•No.

ANGELA: ASGARD’S ASSASSIN #5
KIERON GILLEN & MARGUERITE BENNETT (W)
PHIL JIMENEZ & STEPHANIE HANS (a)
Cover by STEPHANIE HANS
• Superheroic to-do lists are quite the thing. Today, Angela’s read “INVADE MY HOMELAND, WHILST PURSUED BY ASGARDIANS, CARRYING A DEMONIC CHILD WITH ONLY MY SARCASTIC SPACE FRIENDS FOR COMPANY.”
• What will Starlord do when he discovers that Belinda Carlisle has totally lied to him? BECAUSE HEVEN IS A PLACE FULL OF ANGELS OUT TO KILL HIM.
• Angela makes a difficult decision. Also some easier ones, primarily involving stabbing.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


Well, I certainly didn't expect to see Belinda Carlisle's name get dropped anywhere during these solicitations.

But see Starlord, she was singing about heaven, not heven; big difference. Well, not so much in the spelling, which is only one letter different, but in the everything-else...


ANT-MAN #4
NICK SPENCER (W) • RAMON ROSANAS (a)
Cover by MARK BROOKS
WTD VARIANT COVER BY TBA
• Ant-Man has to pull off an impossible break-in, but he can’t do it alone. Which means... he’s gonna need a new gang!
• Er, of criminals. New gang of criminals. Probably should mention that part.
• This is all because of that stupid mysterious bad guy we can’t tell you about. Man, that is annoying.
• Out with it already, right? Comics.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


Well, Ant-Man is being written by Nick Spencer, writer of the excellent Superior Foes of Spider-Man (among other books), so I suppose it's quite possible it could be quite good. But I'm fairly certain it won't possibly be as good as the cover above suggests. How could it be...? I just hope that, whatever happens, The Grizzly is in the comic. And he's wearing that version of his costume, the one that looks kinda like something a furry might where, and kinda like something a sports mascot might wear, only dumber and cheaper.


AVENGERS: OPERATION HYDRA #1
WILL CORONA PILGRIM (W) • ANDREA DIVITO (a)
Cover by MICHAEL RYAN
CLASSIC VARIANT BY JACK KIRBY
• Before next summer’s blockbuster film, join the Avengers – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and the Hulk-- as they set off on an all-new adventure against a secret Hydra splinter cell!
• Black Widow’s discovered a startling development, but what exactly is Hydra up to?
• It’ll take teamwork to topple Hydra’s latest plot…but only one Avenger has the skill needed to save the day!
• PLUS: Reprinting Avengers #16, presenting the story that brought Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch onto the team for the first time!
• PLUS PLUS: This cover will be featured as an AVENGERS COLORING POSTER.
48 PGS./One-Shot /Rated T+ …$3.99

Avengers Assemble, the book Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley launched in 2012 to feature the in-Marvel Universe version of the movie Avengers, didn't last very long. They stayed on long enough to reintroduce Thanos and a slightly tweaked version of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning' Guardians of The Galaxy before that movie came out, and then split. Replaced by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Stefano Caselli, the title started out pretty okay and got bad quickly, muddying the original concept by adding in characters who weren't in the movie, and attaching completely unrelated stories to the book in at least one not-very-good annual. It lasted just 25 issues; I think they had more variant covers for the first issue then that.

Seeing this one-shot here—and a few other Avengers books featuring the movie line-up below—reminded me how strange it is that an Avengers title actually got cancelled, and that the one meant to capitalize on the movie's success didn't even last until previews for the sequel started showing up.

This issue is at Marvel's now standard $3.99 price-point—Ms. Marvel mysteriously remains the only comic not based on a cartoon that Marvel is still charging just $2.99 for—but it looks like you actually get a little more content for your money, with what I'm assuming is in the neighborhood of 30+ pages of comics (even if a portion of that is a reprint) and a coloring poster. I don't color, but I'd be less irritated to be charged that extra buck if I knew I was getting a coloring poster for my money.


AVENGERS: ULTRON FOREVER #1
AL EWING (W) • ALAN DAVIS (A/C)
AU MOVIE CONNECTING VARIANT B
AU MOVIE CONNECTING VARIANT C
YOUNG VARIANT BY SKOTTIE YOUNG
AVENGERS VARIANT COVER BY TBA
PART 1 OF 3 – THE START OF A THREE-PART AVENGERS EVENT!
• 500 years into the future, Ultron has won. Humanity is all but extinct - dead or enslaved by the Ultron Singularity.
• Now, seven Avengers are brought through time by Doctor Doom to battle the machine god for the fate of the cosmos... or die trying!
• It begins here - an epic adventure spanning the past and future of the Avengers!
40 PGS./One-Shot /Rated T+ …$4.99

NEW AVENGERS: ULTRON FOREVER #1
AL EWING (W) • ALAN DAVIS (A/C)
AU MOVIE CONNECTING VARIANT E
AU MOVIE CONNECTING VARIANT F
PART 2 OF 3 – The epic Avengers adventure continues!
• When Thors clash! Vision versus Vision - to the death! The strangest Hulk-out of all! The Loki of the 25th Century!
• Ultron makes his move - but does Doctor Doom have something even worse up his metal sleeve?
40 PGS./One-Shot /Rated T+ …$4.99


Wouldn't "Age of Ultron" be a better title for this book, apparently set during the time in which Ultron ruled? Or wait, no, Marvel already used that title, on a book set almost entirely in the present, a dystopian near future and the 1960s, with, like, a scene or two during the actual Age of Ultron.


BLACK WIDOW #17
NATHAN EDMONDSON (W)
PHIL NOTO (A/C)
THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD!
• Natasha has been invited to see the beast from within: will she accept?
• Past and present collide as both young and current Natasha decide who controls the future.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


Natasha, no! Not before Memorial Day!


Another great cover from great cover artist Michael del Mundo, this one for Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier. You know, "Bucky Barnes" doesn't sound all that cool...especially in the title of a comic book. Doesn't this follow up on Bucky's post-Original Sin status quo? Why isn't the book called The Unseen: The Winter Soldier, or The Winter Soldier: The Unseen...?


I'm not crazy about the super-busy background, and wonder if it takes away from the more homage-y aspects of the image, but regardless, that's a very strong cover by Daredevil's regular artist Chris Samnee.

Man, I miss that book...


Darth Vader vs. The "Roger Roger" droids...? That doesn't look like a very fair fight. I mean, I'm pretty sure I could take at least one of them if I had, like, a broom or something to whack it with.


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: BEST STORY EVER #1
TIM SEELEY (W)
JACOPO CAMAGNI & IBAN COELLO (a)
Cover by TIM SEELEY
• It’s not every day Peter Quill ends up in jai…wait…never mind this happens a lot.
• But he DOESN’T always get Rocket stuck there with him. And he DEFINITELY doesn’t always regale the guards with the BEST STORY EVER!
• Let’s just hope he keeps their attention long enough for the other Guardians to bust him out…
32 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T…$3.99

There are nine—NINE!Guardians of The Galaxy comics in April's solicitations (Guardians of The Galaxy, Guardians of The Galaxy and The X-Men: Black Vortex Omega #1, Guardians Team-Up, Guardians 3000, Legendary Star-Lord, Marvel Universe Guardians of The Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon and this one-shot , but, of all of 'em, this one has the best title. I'm not crazy about writer/cover artist Tim Seeley's Rocket, who looks more canine than raccoon, but then I suppose Rocket would say that's fine, as he's not a raccoon.

...

Hey, has Seeley drawn any Batman comics yet? Seeing as how he's co-writing a 52-part weekly series that has had about 40 different artists draw issues of it, I'm kind of surprised Seeley hasn't drawn any Batman Eternal yet...


JAMES PATTERSON MAX RIDE: FIRST FLIGHT #1 & 2
MARGUERITE BENNETT (W)
ALEX SANCHEZ (a)
Cover by STEPHANIE HANS
VARIANT COVER BY DUSTIN NGUYEN
James Patterson’s Worldwide Bestselling Series gets a Marvel makeover. Follow the soaring adventures of Max and her extraordinary “flock”--Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel--as they try to escape their creators and defend themselves from the diabolical Erasers. Along the way Max discovers her purpose – saving the world – but can she? Find out this Spring!
32 PGS. (EACH)/Rated T …$3.99 (EACH)

Is it worth noting that Marvel's doing a James Patterson comic? I know IDW has published Patterson-based comics in the past, so I was surprised to see this here.


KANAN – THE LAST PADAWAN #1
GREG WEISMAN (w) • PEPE LARRAZ (a)
Cover by MARK BROOKS
YOUNG VARIANT BY SKOTTIE YOUNG
STAR WARS: REBELS TELEVISION SHOW VARIANT COVER
BLANK VARIANT COVER ALSO AVAILABLE
VARIANT COVER BY TBA
• Kanan Jarrus--in STAR WARS REBELS, he’s a cocky, sarcastic renegade fighting against the Galactic Empire alongside the rag-tag crew of the Ghost...but years before, at the height of the Clone Wars, he was known as Caleb Dume, Jedi Padawan under the instruction of Jedi Master Depa Billaba. Neither master nor apprentice ever suspected that the Clone Troopers they commanded would turn on them upon the issuing of Order 66—the order to execute all Jedi. How did Caleb Dume survive? How did he learn to survive on his own? And how did he become the man we know as Kanan Jarrus? Writer Greg Weisman (writer/executive producer on STAR WARS REBELS, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN) and artist Pepe Larraz (DEADPOOL VS. X-FORCE, THOR, INHUMAN) bring us a tale bridging the years between the Clone Wars and Rebels!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
Star Wars © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. Text and illustrations for Star Wars are © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Wow, they named a Star Wars character after me! That's super-nice of them, and really unexpected. I mean, I assume he's named after me, as I don't know of any other Caleb's that exist. Certainly none that I can think of whose surnames begin with, say, the letter G.

So this Caleb/Kanan is from the TV show Rebels...?  I'm pretty shaky on what's in Star Wars continuity now and what's not. In terms of the New Expanded Universe, I guess this means that the first six movies and the TV show Rebels are all in-(new)continuity...?


MOON KNIGHT #14
CULLEN BUNN (W)
RON ACKINS (a)
Cover by DECLAN SHALVEY
• A new chapter that brings the horror and insanity of MOON KNIGHT to new heights!
• Mysterious wolves are threatening the nights in New York City and it’s up to Mr. Night to figure it all out.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


And where did these mysterious wolves get all that money? Are they the wolves of Wall Street...?


Nice Jake Wyant cover for Ms. Marvel.


Have I mentioned how much I love Tradd Moore's covers for Secret Avengers, and how much I wished he was drawing the interiors as well? Oh, I have? Like every month now?

Oh.

Well, that's a pretty awesome cover. I love the little Daredevilfish and other fish dressed as Marvel heroes...

I'm not entirely sure why Marvel created this new Silk character and gave her a solo series of her own, pumping the number of ongoing solo series featuring distaff versions of Spider-Man up to three (with Spider-Woman and Spider-Gwen), but I kind of like her costume. Well, most specifically, I like the torso of it, with the Superman-like "S" sigil in the middle of a Spider-Man like web. The color scheme's pretty good too. I'd hate to be working on any of those titles though, as they're going to be competing for the exact same audience, and I don't imagine there will still be three comics featuring lady versions of Spider-Man in April of 2016's solicits.
I kinda like the logo on that costume.


Darth Vader gets his gauntlets on Pym particles in April's issue of Star Wars, and the Galaxy will never be the same!


This isn't the beset example of it, as the cover has been pixilated to resemble an old videogame, but I really like the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl logo.


WOLVERINES #16
Charles Soule & Ray Fawkes (W)
Ario Anindito (a)
COVER BY Guillem March
• Mr. Sinister was robbed of his prize – the adamantium-covered body of Wolverine – when the X-Men stole it from his Finlandian fortress. But they left something behind...another piece of the puzzle, something else that was taken from our team...
• The REVENGE of Mr. Sinister starts here – and who better to initiate it than...the Paradise team?!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99


Really? It's a Finlandian fortress? It's not a Finnish fortress? Huh. Is it in Finland, or is it in Finlandia? Is their a Finlandia in the Marvel Universe? I don't know; it's a big place.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: January 14-21

Batgirl #38 (DC Comics) It's another great and very welcome issue of Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Brenden Fletcher's Batgirl which, as always, packs more story than most current superhero comics into a single issue, making for a very satisfying read (I also read this week's issue of splash-happy Wonder Woman, for example, and it took probably five times as long to read Batgirl as it did Finch and Finch's Wonder Woman).

In this issue, our heroine starts dating that dreamy police officer from the end of the last issue, Liam, and, in the course of their conversations, she learns he's pretty anti-vigilante (which should be a dealbreaker, right?). I can't imagine that's a popular sentiment in Gotham City, given how often Batman personally saves it from complete and utter apocalypse, but then, as I've noted before, the Burnside neighborhood of Gotham seems to be in a parallel dimension from the rest of the city as seen in the rest of the New 52 Line; Burnside is to Gotham as Narnia is to New York, it seems, more so than Burnside is to Gotham as Brooklyn is to New York.

Babs seems to take some of what Liam was saying to heart, and tries to use her extra-legal wiggle room to take down a local bad boy reality TV star that Liam says is a menace but whom the justice system hasn't been able to take down. Enter Batgirl. Things...don't go so well for her, and she struggles with the fickle tastes of the social media-scape and gets told off by Black Canary, who moves out and joins a rock band as its lead singer (Jeez, that sounds dangerous!) and still seems like the most obvious candidate for whoever is messing with Barbara's life so badly.

Batman Eternal #41 (DC) Bad cover, Ivan Reis! Bad cover! I mean, I suppose te drawing itself is okay, but it doesn't really say much about what one might find in this issue. If you've been reading Batman Eternal and haven't forgotten that particular sub-plot, then you'll know Red Robin Tim Drake is being infected with the nano-virus that was one of the early half-dozen or so plots in the book, and the one that hasn't been paid any attention in a rather long time. If you haven't, well, you'll just see a grimacing Tim Drake in his ugly costume while blue clouds either flow into our out of his orifices.

Also, it obscures the fact that this particular issue is drawn by the great Joe Quinones! Well, his surname is on the cover, but it's the fifth name on a list of six, appearing below those of the two consulting writers and above that of the colorist.

So yeah, this is one of those issues of Batman Eternal which is a better-looking than most; this is a tricky book, visually, because the art can be really awful sometimes, it can be really great sometimes and, on average, is somewhere in the middle. It's still the best-looking of DC's three weekly series, however, like, by far, I just sorta wish it could just be handed back and forth between, I don't know, Guillem March, Dustin Nguyen, Ian Bertham and Joe Quinones ever arc or so.

Anyway, let's focus on the positive: Joe Quinones, drawing Red Robin, Harper Row, Spoiler, Batgirl, Red Hood and the mystery villain behind the nanotech plot, rather casually revealed after so long (And, since this issue is a week old at this point, I don't feel bad spoiling the fact that it is, in fact, The Mad Hatter, who Quinones gives the same basic costume that Ethan Van Sciver gave him in that really rather unpleasant The Dark Knight story arc "Mad", but otherwise draws him less demented in appearance. And, I should note, the Batman Eternal writing team, with Kyle Higgins scripting this issue and the next, writes Hatter in a more traditional, less murderously, violently psychotic way than in the Gregg Hurwitz-scripted "Mad").

The artwork is fantastic, and this is the best-looking issue of Batman Eternal in sometime. A good test of how good an artist is when it comes to New 52 books is if they can kinda sorta not make some of the costumes look terrible. Quinones obviously can't save that dumb-ass Red Robin costume (Hey, how come Tim has to wear that dumb Titans "T" on his shoulder when he's not with the Titans?), but everyone else looks good, and he takes a little of the stupid out of Red Robin's costume, simply by drawing very well.

As for the plot to this issue, it is apparently the start of the two-part climax to the nanotech plague plot. Red Robin and his allies all get unexpectedly taken by the nanotech virus, leaving only Harper Row to save the day. She goes home and puts on her dumb-looking costume—not as bad as Red Robin's, but not as good as Batgirl's—which, for reasons I can't imagine, includes a battle corset.

Batman Eternal #42 (DC) It is, as the cover tag shouts, "Gotham's Newest Hero!," re-debuting here, after first appearing in her "Bluebird" identity forever ago in a flash-forward issue of Batman (Note she does not actually call herself nor get called "Bluebird" in this issue).

Harper Row takes her dumb Wildstorm-style mask and battle corset—complete with Tron-like glowing bits that protect her from nanotech infection—into Hatter HQ to save Batman's sidekicks and, thus, the day. Batman arrives after Harper has The Hatter on the ropes, and he merely grabs him by the lapels and slaps him across the face once this time; he doesn't beat the little man within an inch of his life and almost drown him, as in their previous encounter. Then she and Red Robin have a nice little chat on a rooftop. And then Catwoman and her buttonless blouse show up in another sub-plot.

The artwork in this particular issue comes from Jed Dougherty, Goran Sudzuka and Roger Robinson; I'm not sure who did what, exactly, but I really like the art of the last half-dozen pages or so. I think that's Robinson, but it's been so long since I've seen him drawing any of these characters, I'm not 100% sure.

Lumberjanes #10 (Boom Studios) Regular artist Brooke Allen hasn't yet returned (nor has co-writer Grace Ellis). Instead, Carolyn Nowak—who drew the "Lonely Road" story in #9—illustrates this issue, and Lumberjanes co-creator Shannon Watters co-writes with Noelle Stevenson.

Nowak's a fine artist and all, but her work in noticeably different than that of Allen, and her Molly in particular looks rather distractingly off-model. As with the last issue, this seems to be another "breather" issue following the big, eight-issue opening story arc, with the girls splitting up into two groups. It's a "free day" at camp, so Mal and Molly are off on a picnic date, while the remaining girls scour the handbook for easy badges they can try to earn. This being Lumberjanes, however, Mal and Molly's date ends with the pair traveling through an unusually placed portal and ending up somewhere where there are dinosaurs.

The New 52: Futures End #37 (DC) Poor Aaron Lopresti gets his name attached to this book, as its penciller this issue, although it's hardly his best work, and I suppose having three different inkers throughout doesn't help any. While Futures End has long suffered from teetering on the edge of incoherency, perhaps a symptom of having four distinct writers credited for every script and rotating artists, this issue is a particularly poor showing, with a few of the half-dozen sub-plots checked-in on in this issue apparently having jumped ahead awkwardly from #36 (I actually had to check and make sure I didn't miss an issue).

Those would be the Firestorm plot and the increasingly poorly-told Batmen plot. In the case of the Firestorm plot, the new Jason/Maddy female Firestorm showed up on the Justice League satellite on the last page of #36, to the shock of Shazam-as-Superman II and Stormguard, who last knew Firestorm as their male teammate. Here, the two Leaguers have returned to earth to fight Dr. Polaris, leaving Firestorm alone on the satellite to experiment with their equipment in an effort to turn herself back into her component identities.

In the Batmen plot, something apparently happened off-panel somewhere, involving Batman 2020 Terry "Batman Beyond" McGinnis somehow closed down former Red Robin Tim Drake's bar...?

So, in this issue:

•An astral projection of John Constantine shows up at Justice League Dark HQ to tell Amethyst they can't help save Frankenstein, but maybe his dad Frankenstein of Castle Frankenstein can. Then Amethyst and he recount the events of an Apokolptian invasion of Gemworld to one another as if it were the first time either of them had heard the story, despite the fact that they were both present for it and, in Amethyst's case anyway, it was probably the most pivotal event of her life.

•The aforementioned Firestorm/Justice League bit

•A five-page scene with The Fifty-Sue Crew, which ends with one of Faraday/Rock's assassin's killing Sue, who just gets back up and teleports herself, Lana, Grifter and the giant vault containing the DNA of all the superhumans on Earth and Earth-2 (ew) away

•Mr. Terrifc works out while Brother Eye watches

•Constantine breaks out an entirely different accent to argue with bearded Superman in Smallville

•McGinnis and Plastique finish having sex on a rooftop while Batman 2020 Bruce Wayne watched through binoculars, and then McGinnis swoops down to talk with Red Robin, just when the Batman 2045/Joker 2045 hybrid cyborg monster arrives and starts machine-gunning them in a cliffhanger so awkward I sincerely thought they might have left a page out of this issue.

The New 52: Futures End #38 (DC) This issue picks up on the Batman, Batman, Batman/Joker, Red Robin and Plastique fight that was set-up last issue, and it is maybe the all-around worse bit of comics storytelling I've ever seen in a mainstream comic book, at least as pertains to a fight scene (Seriously, this is some Ultimates 3 level bad storytelling).

Here's the first page, for example, in which the Batman/Joker murder-borg from even further in the future continues shooting his gun at Batman II and Tim Drake, something he started doing last issue. He is a terrible, terrible shot, and the two superheroes have the worst reflexes in the world.

It only gets worse after that, when Batman 2020 and Plastique join the fray. I'm not sure I can even blame artist Andy MacDonald for how poor this scene is, as it seems to be a symptom of the book's creative approach in general; there's enough blame to be shared between artist, the four writers and the editors that it's hard to pinpoint anyone who should be forced to wear this issue around their neck for all eternity, like a lightweight but rather more ridiculous albatross necklace.

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, a slightly less confusing, but still terrible battle rages. Dr. Polaris has Stormguard on the ropes, and tells Stormguard Stormguard's own origin, something Stormguard just told Superman II two issues ago (pretty sure this scene was from an earlier draft that somehow got illustrated and published), and then the new Firestorm appears to tell off Stormguard and Superman II (the latter of whom she defeats by...opening up a hole under his feet, causing him to fall into the sewer. I guess he was so surprised that he forgot he could fly?) and rescues Dr. Polaris from them, thinking only he can restore her to normal.

Then there's some more Fifty Sue/Grifter/Lana business, and Amethyst brings Frankenstein to Castle Frankenstein, where we see his father, Frankenstein, who has apparently started working on Dr. Moreau-like experiments since the last time he saw his namesake. That actually seems like a pretty interesting plot point with a lot of potential, and also feels like something that writer Jeff Lemire might have been planning to do at some point with in the pages of Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, had that book not been canceled as quickly as it was.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #6 (DC) Well this cover, featuring Wonder Woman stopping a villain at what looks to be a Wonder Woman fan convention of some sort, isn't bad. It's by a Paul Davey.

This issue features two stories, both of 'em rather good ones.

The first is written by Michael Jelenic and features particularly lush, almost painterly art by penciller Drew Johnson, inker Ray Snyder and colorist Lizzy John. It appears to be set sometime between Crisis On Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis, I'm going to guess (The Amazons have George Perez's origin, Hippolyta has dark hair and used to be The Golden Age Wonder Woman, complete with Invisible Plane, The Cheetha is the Barbara Minerva version, here with limited super-speed).

It's Hippolyta's birthday, and Diana is absent from the celebration, as she's looking for the perfect gift, one to replace something of her mother's she broke as a child. Unfortunately for her, The Cheetah also wants the particularly precious item, and thus there is a lot of fighting between cutaways to Hippolyta's birthday party and flashbacks' to Wonder Woman's childhood.

I was a bit surprised to see The Cheetah shove a spear through Wonder Woman's torso, only for Wonder Woman to recover (Does she/did she have invulnerability or not at this point? And/or a Wolverine-like healing factor? Or what?), and the use of various color-coded narration boxes got a little confusing, since the story features narration by Modern Wonder Woman, Flashback Wonder Woman, Modern Hippolyta and Flashback Hippolyta.

Otherwise, the script is pretty strong, as is the art—Johnson's version of Hippolyta's Golden Age Wonder Woman costume is particularly great. That story, entitled "Generations," takes up the first 22-pages of this issue, while the remaining 10 pages go to Adam P. Knave and Matthew Dow Smith's "Not Included."

The worst that can be said about this story is that it alludes to various continuities but doesn't fit in any of them; Wonder Woman is wearing her New 52 costume while co-star Big Barda is wearing her pre-Flashpoint costume. And, more importantly, the two characters no one another and apparently work or worked together on the Justice League; there's also mention of Mister Miracle, and I think a reference to Scott and Barda being in charge of one of the Fourth World's worlds...?

They fight the two coolest Doom Patrol villains, and a bunch of rather awesomely designed robot gorillas at "The Museum of Alternative Energy," a place I just like the sound of.

The focus here is on Barda being a more battle-hungry version of Wonder Woman, which is sort of refreshing, given how battle-hungry Wonder Woman is usually portrayed pretty much everywhere. Here, she's one of two warrior women from cultures of warrior women, but she's the good cop of the pair, and the one who actually attempts and succeeds with diplomacy. Knave also includes a lot of banter, portraying the two as pretty good friends—something Grant Morrison's breakneck-paced JLA run, during which Barda and Wonder Woman were on the same League at the same time, didn't have much time for.

SpongeBob Comics #40 (United Plankton Pictures) I'd really like to hear the behind-the-scenes story of this issue, as that volcano that appears on the cover of this special "Panicky Volcano Issue" appears in two of the stories within the comic, including the climax of the first and longest story and the two-page, "LAVAble Pin-up Comic" where the book's posters usually are. In each instance, there's a credit reading "Volcano by Cassadee Clements." It's just not a credit you see in comics very often—probably not enough, really—nor does one see what looks like photographs of 3D volcano models in comics very often.

Nate Neal's credits page comic featuring pirates and Maris Wicks' educational "Flotsam and Jetsam" also deal with volcanos...well, "Hydro-thermal deep sea vents" in the case of the latter, but close enough for comics.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

DC's April preview reviewed

Oh hey, remember like 24 hours ago, when I said DC's April 2015 would be all-Convergence, all-month? I might have exaggerated, and the publisher will be publishing a few books that aren't Convergence or Convergence tie-ins, and fewer of which will be noteworthy enough to discuss here, in our regularly-scheduled review of DC's previews...which they released on Tuesday afternoon, instead of Monday afternoon, as per usual. Perhaps because Marvel released their solicitations on Monday afternoon instead of on Tuesday, which is when they usually announce theirs. Probably to make room for their big announcement.

Man, covering the comics industry, even as on the half-assed amateur way I do so here on my own personal time-wasting comics blog, is hard. I think there was a State of the Union speech by what's-that-guy's-name, the editor-in-chief of the United States of America today. That stuff is probably even harder to keep up with (I wonder why Marvel decided to talk up Secret Wars on Infinite Earths today, anyway? It's not exactly a slow news day; but, on the other hand, maybe the fact that it's not a slow news day means it is a slow "news" day, and thus was perfect for revealing their plans to do their own kinda sort completely unnecessary reboot...?

Well, whatever. Tonight we'll look at the solicitations we didn't look at last night. That is, everything that's not Convergence-related. (As for Convergence that is, of course, DC's latest, greatest attempt to give fans exactly what they want, just not in the way that they actually want it; Comics Alliance has 'em all here. As for Marvel's April solicitations, I hope to get to them by Thursday or Friday evening, but in the mean time, you can read them all here.

Now, let's see what DC has to offer in April, other than Convergence...


BATMAN: ARKHAM – THE RIDDLER TP
Written by GARDNER FOX, PAUL DINI, SCOTT SNYDER and others
Art by CARMINE INFANTINO, GREG CAPULLO and others
Cover by GUILLEM MARCH
On sale MAY 13 • 296 pg, FC, $19.99 US
The Riddler’s greatest hits are collected in stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #140, #142, #377, #822, #837, BATMAN #171, #179, #292, #317, #362, BATMAN #23.2: THE RIDDLER, BRAVE AND THE BOLD #183, JOKER’S ASYLUM II: THE RIDDLER #1 and LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR #2!


The short story from 1989'a Secret Origins Special #1 by Neil Gaiman, Bernie Mireault, Matt Wagner and Joe Matt. In addition to being one of the greatest Riddler stories of all time, albeit a "last" Riddler story, and having perhaps the most likely creative team for a Batman comic imaginable in the year 2015, its presence allows you to put Neil Gaiman's name in the solicitation and on the cover, and move some paper.

I haven't seen that particular phrasing used in a title before, and while the construction's a little awkward—Why not just "The Greatest Riddler Stories Ever Told," or "Arkham Asylum: The Riddler" or "Batman Vs. The Riddler"?—that's a pretty good idea. I'd love to see more books in such a line, even though I have a sneaking suspicion I've read most if not all of what DC editors would consider, say, the best Penguin or Scarecrow or Two-Face stories, and it would probably be forever before they got to, say, Batman: Arkham—Catman and Batman: Arkham—Calendar Man, huh?


BATMAN ’66 #22
Written by RAY FAWKES
Art by JON BOGDANOVE
Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
On sale APRIL 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
The guest team of writer Ray Fawkes (BATMAN ETERNAL, CONSTANTINE) and artist Jon Bogdanove (SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL) bring back Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, for another bejeweled bout with the Dynamic Duo. When she strikes at a gala ball for Gotham City’s elite, will even guests Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson fall under her spell?


Weird; I was just mentioning my desire to see some Jon Bogdanove art attached to a DC book to be published in April last night—specifically, to Convergence: Superman—The Man of Steel, which his Steel co-creator Louis Simonson is writing and artist June Brigman is drawing—but I'll take this as a consolation prize. I'm actually pretty curious what a Bogdanove version of the TV show's Batman and Robin might look like, as I'm having trouble imagining it...


HE-MAN: THE ETERNITY WAR #5
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by POP MHAN
Cover by STJEPAN SEJIC
On sale APRIL 29 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Skeletor has returned! After his dramatic appearance last issue, the question remains: Will he fight alongside He-Man and She-Ra...or against them?


Is it just me, or does it seem like The Eternity War has been going on forever now?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

...

(Sorry.)


Leave Dr. Mindbender alone!
INFINITE CRISIS: FIGHT FOR THE MULTIVERSE #10
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by ANGEL HERNANDEZ and EDUARDO FRANCISCO
Cover by MICO SUAYAN
On sale APRIL 15 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
An armored Lex Luthor from the Gaslight world holds his own against Batman and Superman from Earth Prime. What will happen when Gaslight Hawkgirl enters the fray? Meanwhile, two other heroes wage a desperate struggle against the deadly, robotic Mecha Deathstroke.


Is it just me, or does it seem like Infinite Crisis has been going on for— Oh wait, I just used that one. Nevermind.


INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US YEAR THREE ANNUAL #1
Written by RAY FAWKES and BRIAN BUCCELLATO
Art by SERGIO DAVILA, XERMANICO and JUAN ALBARRAN
Cover by NEIL GOOGE
On sale APRIL 29 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
The Year of Magic is over, and the stalemate between Superman’s regime and Batman’s resistance continues. But some mysteries remain to be explained, like the true start of John Constantine’s involvement. What secret role did Dr. Occult play? And what have the Titans been up to all this time?


Seeing "Year Three" and "Annual #1" in the same title really cracks me up. I can't believe they're still on the background portion of the story of this game...shouldn't they be getting to the part where the heroic versions of the heroes show up to save the day in this dark and twisted alternate universe by now...?


SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #9
Written by CECIL CASTELLUCCI and LAUREN BEUKES
Art by CHRIS SPROUSE, KARL STORY and MIKE MAIHACK
Cover by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA
On sale APRIL 15 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • DIGITAL FIRST • RATED T
It’s a “Girls’ Day Out,” and Lois Lane doesn’t do “puff piece” interviews, which is fine, because Diana of Themyscira is not interested in being treated as fluff. But when they’re attacked by croco-aliens and robots, the situation really gets heated! Then, in “The Problem with Cats,” Wonder Woman has been summoned to the Isle of Cats to rescue her Justice League teammates, but can Diana save the day?


Some great talents and some great "gets" on the creative teams for this issue. I hope this is selling well enough in both formats to keep it going for a while longer than the two digital-first anthology books that preceded it—Legends of The Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman. After all, Wonder Woman's got a lot of catching up to do when it comes to these sorts of stories.


WONDER WOMAN ’77 SPECIAL #1
Written by MARC ANDREYKO
Art by DREW JOHNSON and MATT HALEY
Cover by NICOLA SCOTT
1:25 Variant cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
One-shot • On sale APRIL 29 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Don’t miss this digital-first special based on the classic TV series starring Lynda Carter! Travel back to the sizzling ’70s as the undercover Amazon Princess joins forces with special agent Steve Trevor to defend America against Cold War-era criminals. A search for an escaped Soviet scientist brings Wonder Woman to the hottest disco of the day, Studio 52. A live stage act might prove more of a threat to Wonder Woman than the Russian Roller Derby girls out to bring the scientist home.


Oh yeah, Wondy's getting a fourth book in 2015 (following Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics and Superman/Wonder Woman. I missed the show the first time around, being a baby when it was on TV, and only saw a few episodes on cable in, like, 2000 or so. I didn't love it, but I do love Wonder Woman and I also love comics, so I'm at least looking forward to trying tout a few issues.

Fingers crossed for Superman '52 and Captain Marvel '41...!

DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS LOIS LANE STATUE
DESIGNED BY ANT LUCIA
SCULPTED BY TIM MILLER
Due to the overwhelming responses from the DC Comics Bombshell variant covers comes the lastest statue in the wildly popular line featuring your favorite heroes and villains portrayed in the pinup style of the 1940s and 50s!
Limited Edition of 5,200
Measures Approximately 11.5" Tall
$124.95 US • On Sale August 2015 • Allocations May Occur


I kind of love and hate this thing at the same time. It's stupid and demeaning but clever and awesome and creepy in a good way and creepy in a bad way all at once! I have no idea what's going on with her face, though—did newsboys really look that ecstatic when shouting "Wuxtry!"...? And—woah, woah, woah. Hold up. These things cost $125 dollars...?

Jesus.

Look, I don't want to tell anyone how to spend their money or anything, but, um, if you've got $125 to blow on some dumb statue, I sure hope you've already donated $50 to Norm Breyfogle, The Hero Initiative, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, The Siegel and Shuster Society, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, whatever that dreamy vampire Ian Somerhalder is up to, and maybe clicked the "donate" button on TheSaveageCritics.com in an effort to encourage Abhay, bought a hobo a hot lunch and maybe even bought a copy of my comic book.

I mean, if you've got money to spend purchasing or even collecting weird-ass foot-tall statues based on variant covers to DC Comics, and haven't already done all that stuff, well, let's just say you could probably be getting more out of your money. And hey, you can't take it with you; do you really want to leave it to your descendants to figure out what the hell to do with your Bombshell statue collection, knowing that they are just going to be quietly thinking ill of you as they embarrassedly try to sell them at a garage sale the summer after your passing...?

BATMAN ANIMATED SERIES: ROXY ROCKET DELUXE ACTION FIGURE
The fan-favorite line of 6" action figures from the Emmy Award-winning animated series continues with Roxy Rocket! For the first time ever you can own Roxy and her famed rocket in this deluxe figure pack.
Figure comes with show specific accessories, display base and rocket with working lights!
THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES: ROXY ROCKET – 5.5"
ROCKET MEASURES 12.25" LONG
$39.95 US • On Sale August 2015 * Allocations May Occur


Yes, there is a joke to be made here and no, I'm not going to make it.

(Also, "fan-favorite"...? "Famed"...? I do not think those words mean what the solicitation copy writer think they mean)

Monday, January 19, 2015

DC's April: All Convergence, all month

Usually about this time of the month, DC releases their solicitations for the comics they plan to publish three months hence, and then I write about them in my recurring "Previews Reviewed" feature. This month's a little different, however, as three months hence DC will only be publishing Convergence and Convergence tie-ins.

What is Convergence? Well, from what I gather it seems to be a story about Brainiac having somehow collected bits of DC continuity the way he used to collect cities in bottles, and his son or a usurper or some cosmic villain with a generic name and generic design doing something nefarious, which essentially involves various groups of characters from DC's Multiverse fighting each other.

The promising part of this is the tie-ins, which will be a boatload of two-issue miniseries taking characters from the good old pre-New 52 DCU and giving them their own temporary books, most of which will be created by creators not currently working on New 52 books, and many of them creators strongly associated with those characters.

So it sounds a bit like Countdown: Arena, DC Retroactive and Crisis On Infinite Earths all rolled into one. Could it be terrible? Yes! Yes, it could be terrible. Scott Lobdell is co-writing part of it, after all.

But it could also be awesome. Certainly there is a lot to be excited about, as you'll likely notice as you peruse the solicitations, which are full of the names of characters and creators we haven't seen a whole lot of from DC in...well, in a long-ass time. (We're pretty much just a Norm Breyfogle, Adam Warren and Stephen DeStefano short of a complete assemblage of All Caleb's Favorite Super-Artists Who Are Still Alive here).

There are a lot of questions hanging over the series, including how it will relate to Grant Morrison's ongoing reinvention of The Multiverse in Multiversity (There are versions of Earth-S/Earth-5 and Earth-4 in here that are apparently different from the ones we've seen in Multiversity), and, if they're completely separate, does that mean there's a Multiverse of DC Multiverses...? (Woah), and if DC is ever gonna get around to explaining what the fuck is going on with The New 52 (That is, how Pandora melded the "New Earth" DCU with The WildStorm Universe and "The Vertigo Universe" to create the New 52-iverse, and why; did she really hate the JSA and Titans and costume design that much?).

I'm also a little suspicious of the invasion of characters from different universes premise, as it means what might otherwise be a fun bit of nostalgia will have, I don't know, some dumb character from WildStorm appearing in it, and I don't really need to see Grifter and Maul fighting The Red Bee and Dollman on Earth-X, you know?

For a complete list of all of of the Convergence business, Andrew Wheeler rather painstakingly assembled it all at Comics Alliance. For a less-than-complete list, however, with my own ill-informed commentary, you can stay right here. Now, you may notice some of the images have logos stamped on 'em (like the Entertainment Weekly logo on Ian Reis' cover for Convergence #1 above). This is because DC gave various industry media outlets "exclusive" batches of solicits, which is dumb, because the Internet.

Anyway...


CONVERGENCE #1
Written by JEFF KING and SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by CARLO PAGULAYAN and JASON PAZ
Foldout cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Variant covers by TONY S. DANIEL and MARK MORALES, BRIAN BOLLAND, GREG CAPULLO
This is it! The entire DC Universe, from the dawn of time through The New 52, must fight to survive against a threat that bends the Multiverse to its will. Your favorite characters from every era and every forgotten series are all here! But are you going to say hello again just to say goodbye forever? The stakes have never been higher as the heroes of Crisis, Zero Hour, Elseworlds, and more are brought together for Convergence!

In the first issue of this weekly series, Brainiac has collected cities of doomed and forgotten worlds, who must battle each other—and the losers will be destroyed! But why is he forcing this conflict? Join the refugees from Earth-2 as they unlock the truth behind this world that exists outside time and space and is very much alive! Is Brainiac really in control—or is this planet named Telos an unparalleled force of evil?
This extra-sized issue is packed with twists and turns and appearances you NEVER thought you’d see—including the heroes from the hit series INJUSTICE!


See, sounds a lot like the premise of that Countdown: Arena series no one read...save those who have vowed to pretend they never did, so that, together, we can erase it from history.

I'm...not even sure how this works, as a lot of these alternate worlds can't really be "destroyed forever," even many of the more minor Elseworlds "universes" are wells that DC creators keep returning to. For example, they never do a Multiverse story without a Vampire Batman from the pages of Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, you know?


CONVERGENCE #2
Written by JEFF KING
Art by CARLO PAGULAYAN and JASON PAZ
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Variant covers by TONY S. DANIEL and MARK MORALES, JAE LEE, and DAVID FINCH
As Telos, the Planet Incarnate, easily defeats the survivors of Earth-2, Thomas Wayne and Dick Grayson set off to find help in the pre-Flashpoint Gotham City. The emotional implication of these worlds colliding comes crashing down when Thomas Wayne confronts this world’s Batman, as father meets son!
Plus, Alan Scott’s attempts to connect with The Green yield unexpected results, setting our team on a quest to escape the planet. And the cyborgs of Futures End engage in a battle to the death against the reimagined heroes of the Just Imagine Universe, while the city of Superman Red and Blue takes on the opposing forces from GENERATIONS!

Say, is the "Just Imagine Universe" the one from the various Just Imagine Stan Lee With...Creating... comics...? Because if so, that could be interesting. That was a pretty fascinating project, I thought, and while the results varied, there was no denying how wildly different most of the characters turned out to be from their original versions.


CONVERGENCE #3
Written by JEFF KING
Art by STEPHEN SEGOVIA and JASON PAZ
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Variant covers by TONY S. DANIEL and MARK MORALES, DAVE McKEAN, and JIM LEE
Death comes calling as an injured Telos takes out his rage on the people of Kandor, while the Earth-2 team endures another brutal casualty. And major plans are set in motion as Green Lantern and the others follow Deimos into the lost city of Skartaris to find Rip Hunter and the missing Time Masters, who could be their only hope of escape from this apocalypse for Infinite Earths!


Okay, I'm getting somewhat alarmed by the fact that all of these refer to the Earth-2 characters, who are terrible.


CONVERGENCE: AQUAMAN #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art by CLIFF RICHARDS
Cover by BECKY CLOONAN
Aquaman has lost his home, his powers, and his hand -- but now he faces his most difficult challenge: a battle to the finish with Deathblow!

Well, on the one hand, it's cool to see Becky Cloonan drawing Aquaman. On the other hand—Oh wait, Aquaman's only got one hand. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! No, seriously, that precise version of Aquaman shown there? He never really existed, did he? That looks like his first, makeshift harpoon hand from directly after he had his hand devoured by piranha he couldn't telepathically control ("lost...his powers"), but that Aquaman should have a bigger and more bad-ass beard.

Like so:
Come on, Cloonan!
Poor Tony Bedard. This is the first of several of these books that  he's writing that he's pretty obviously not the first choice for. Peter David is the guy you'd most want writing your Peter David-era Aquaman comic, right...?


CONVERGENCE: THE ATOM #1
Written by TOM PEYER
Art by STEVE YEOWELL and ANDY OWENS
Cover by STEVE DILLON
There’s a mysterious voice in Ray Palmer’s head! Does that mean The Atom is going mad? To find out what’s really going on, he’ll have to go down a road that will pit him against the ever deadly Deathstroke!


You know what would be fantastic? A Tom Peyer-written comic book starring the DC Universe's greatest super-scientist, superhero/college professor Ray "The Atom" Palmer.


CONVERGENCE: BATGIRL #1
Written by ALISA KWITNEY
Art by RICK LEONARDI and MARK PENNINGTON
Cover by RICK LEONARDI and DAN GREEN
After a year living under the confinement of the dome, Stephanie Brown isn’t sure she wants to be Batgirl again. But when she’s attacked by Catman and Gorilla Grodd from the world of Flashpoint, she’s forced to put on the cape and cowl to fight alongside Red Robin and Cassandra Cain!

Oh man, and to think I used to hate that Batgirl costume and that Red Robin costume! Oh, those were such innocent days, before the New 52, and I saw what New 52 Batgirl and New 52 Red Robin would be wearing (the former has, thankfully, changed clothes since, of course).

Looks like cover artist Rick Leonardi messed up on Red Robin's chest-symbol, though...


CONVERGENCE: CATWOMAN #1
Written by JUSTIN GRAY
Art by RON RANDALL
Cover by CLAIRE WENDLING
A year under the dome can change anyone – even Catwoman. She’s set aside her life of crime to become the protector of Suicide Slum, but when the dome falls she will face her greatest challenge: Kingdom Come Batman!


Sorry, but if it's not Jim Balent, it's not really '90s Catwoman. Too bad too, because Balent just drew a Harley Quinn variant cover for DC, so I would have assumed he was on decent enough terms with them (I'm similarly disappointed that the Shadow of The Bat mini is being drawn by Philip Tan instead of Norm Breyfogle, Vince Giarrano, Bret Blevins or anyone who ever drew Shadow of The Bat).


Please note: Convergence: The Flash #1 will have a Mike Allred cover, as all superhero comics should.


CONVERGENCE: GREEN ARROW #1
Written by CHRISTY MARX
Art by RAGS MORALES and CLAUDE ST-AUBIN
Cover by RAGS MORALES
Don’t miss the first meeting between Oliver Queen and his son, Connor Hawke! Father and son may be united, but is their world about to end?


Aw man, I really miss Connor Hawke...

And how is it that Chuck Dixon is not writing this?


CONVERGENCE: GREEN LANTERN/PARALLAX #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art RON WAGNER and BILL REINHOLD
Cover by STEVE LIEBER
A powerless Kyle Rayner visits a Metropolis prison to see a devastated Hal Jordan who believes he has murdered the Green Lantern Corps. But if the dome falls and powers are restored, will Parallax return to defend the city or destroy it?


And here's Bedard writing a book one would expect Ron Marz to be writing instead. What's interesting about Bedard's presence on this particular book is that Marz, unlike Peter David, is actually writing a couple of Convergence books (Batman and Robin and Justice League International).

I'm not sure I'll buy this one or not, given how much competition for my dollars and attention there will be in April from DC alone, but I was one DC reader at the time who really, really liked the development of Hal Jordan turning into Parallax (before the Geoff Johns' retcon/reveal that it wasn't actually Jordan being driven mad by grief or—rather reasonably—assuming that if he had the power to alter all of time and space, he might as well do some good with it and un-do horrible atrocities like the destruction of an entire city, but that he was actually possessed by the space-god of fear emotion). I thought Hal Jordan as the Justice League's greatest enemy had a ton of potential that never got explored, because of older fans' possessiveness regarding the character.


CONVERGENCE: HAWKMAN #1
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art by TIM TRUMAN and ENRIQUE ALCATENA
Cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
Hawkman and Hawkgirl put their Shadow War on hold as they face the might of anthropomorphic rat-men and bat-men in the deadly land of Kamandi!


Oh fuck you, Convergence! I don't even like Hawkman, but then you're gonna put Tim Truman on art and practically force me to buy a Hawkman comic? April is going to be so goddam expensive; here's hoping for a big tax return...


CONVERGENCE: JUSTICE LEAGUE  #1
Written by FRANK TIERI
Art by VICENTE CIFUENTES
Cover by MARK BUCKINGHAM
The Justice League story you never expected to see begins when Supergirl, Zatanna, Vixen and Jade attend Jesse Quick’s baby shower, which quickly turns into a life-and-death struggle with Flashpoint Aquaman!


Well that's a damn random assemblage of super-characters, some of whom are barely even associated with the Justice League. It's been a while since Flashpoint obviously, and that final run on Justice LEague of America was pretty terrible and forgettable, but I do recall Supergirl, Jade and Jesse Quick being on the team. Zatanna and Vixen were long-time members, but I don't recall them in the book at all. And MEra's just a Justice League founder's wife—had she even ever met Jesse...?

Well, whatever, I suppose. For the life of me, I can't remember Jesse being pregnant either, but, like I said, that final run on the series (written by an obviously-from-the-results, heavily-messed-with James Robinson) was pretty forgettable.


CONVERGENCE: JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #1
Written by FABIAN NICIEZA,
Art and cover by CHRISCROSS
With their heavy hitters sidelined, Elongated Man must lead the much-maligned "Detroit Justice League" against the overwhelming power of the heroes from the Tangent Universe!


Well, I like you, Justice League Detroit...


CONVERGENCE: JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1
Written by RON MARZ
Art by MIKE MANLEY
Cover by PAUL RENAUD
Ted Kord, Martian Manhunter, Fire and Ice star as the levity of the JLI team collides with the severity of the world of Kingdom Come!


Weird. That's not an artist or a writer I'd associate with either the JLI or Kingdom Come...and the JLI writers are totally working for DC at the moment, too (And one of 'em, Keith Giffen, is writing a Convergence mini). I wouldn't mind seeing what Mike Manley's versions of all those characters look like though...


CONVERGENCE: PLASTIC MAN AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1
Written by SIMON OLIVER
Art by JOHN MCCREA
Cover by HILARY BARTA
Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters are on the gallows in a New York taken over by Nazis, when robot super-heroes attack from Futures End and enemies become allies.


Plastic Man! The Freedom Fighters! Hitman artist John McCrea! And a Hilary Barta cover! That's it, it's official: DC should indefinitely suspend their New 52 line and just publish Convergence specials from now on.


CONVERGENCE: SHAZAM! #1
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art and cover by EVAN 'DOC' SHANER
It’s Shazam versus Steampunk, as the world of Gotham By Gaslight takes on the Captain Marvel family and friends.

What the--? Jeff Parker? Doc Shaner? On Captain Marvel?! My God, could we have another good Captain Marvel comic in 2015, mere months after Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart's Thunderworld...?

I imagine they plan on introducing some actual superheroes from the world of Gotham By Gaslight, because otherwise it's just going to be Batman and Jack The Ripper getting beat up by Captain Marvel for like 20 pages.


CONVERGENCE: NEW TEEN TITANS #1
Written by MARV WOLFMAN
Art by NICOLA SCOTT and MARC DEERING
Cover by NICOLA SCOTT
Titans Together! The greatest Titans team of them all takes on the might of the Tangent Universe's Doom Patrol!


"The greatest"...? I don't know; I'm pretty partial to the Teen Titans Go! Titans team at this point.

That there is a pretty perfect pairing of creative team and characters, though. Sure, George Perez would be preferable to Scott—couldn't they at least get him to do the cover?—but Scott has a style that's not completely incompatible with Perez's (Although, that said, I'm not sure anyone other than Perez could draw that particular Nightwing costume and make it look non-terrible).


CONVERGENCE: NIGHTWING/ORACLE #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by JAN DUURSEMA and DAN PARSONS
Cover by JILL THOMPSON
Just as they’ve finally been reunited, the romance between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon is sentenced to execution by Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkwoman!


I'm really looking forward to seeing Jan Duursema drawing the DC Universe after so many years away working on Dark Horse's various Star Wars comics. She's contributed a bit to Earth 2: Worlds End so far, bu the book is such a mess that it's not exactly a good spotlight for any of the many artists who work on each issue, and it's rarely clear who does what on each issue, exactly. And it's not like New 52 Earth 2 and New 52 Apokolips are what one thinks of when one thinks of "the DC Universe."

More exciting still may be the presence of a cover by Jill Thompson, whose work one only rarely seels outside of her own projects these days. Based on that single image, I'd love to see a Thompson-created Barbara Gordon project, whether its Babs as Batgirl or as Oracle (As much as I loathe the branding and existential issues inherent in the Earth-One line of graphic novels, a Thompson written and drawn Batgirl original graphic novel would be about as close to perfect for the bookstore and library audience as one could get.

I suppose it's also worth noting that this issue is written by Gail Simone, making this a rather rare DC book where the writer, artist and cover artist are all ladies.


CONVERGENCE: THE QUESTION #1
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by CULLY HAMNER
Two-Face is fighting another world’s Harvey Dent, and it’s up to Renee Montoya as The Question to help him beat the odds!


Rucka returns to DC after a rather long absence, to write two of the pet characters he adopted during his time working with the Bat-office, including Renee Montoya, a supporting character in the Bat-books that Rucka rather radically reinvented during the hundreds of pages he wrote featuring the character (One of 20 or so good reasons DC had to reboot was, I think, what Rucka and company did to Montoya/The Question). I like Rucka's DC writing A-OK, but this one doesn't look all that interesting to me...although I suppose which other world the other Harvey Dent is coming from could certainly make it so.

Without knowing that though, it's the presence of Rucka's former partner Hamner, with whom he created the Montoya back-ups during his run with J.H. Williams III on Detective Comics starring Batwoman, that is most notable about this book. Hamner was good back then, but he's even better now.


CONVERGENCE: SPEED FORCE #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art by TOM GRUMMETT and SEAN PARSONS
Cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
The fastest family alive loses its powers as Wally West and his kids face an uncertain future while trapped away from home. Will they be able to outrun the chaos that follows the arrival of Flashpoint Wonder Woman? Plus, don’t miss the most unexpected Zoo Crew character of all!


Because Mark Waid isn't available, it's Tony Bedard! Don't worry, this will look a lot better than that cover suggests, as Tom Grummett is a hell of a pencil artist. And hey, with the variant cover available, you don't even need to get the one drawn by Brett Booth!

Do notice that, despite the awful-looking artwork, The Flash looks better than he has in years with a change back to the old costume. One question though, shouldn't Wally's daughter be Impulse II at this point in DC's timeline...?


CONVERGENCE: SUICIDE SQUAD #1
Written by FRANK TIERI
Art by TOM MANDRAKE
Cover by JOHN PAUL LEON
When Kingdom Come’s floating fortress of New Oa threatens Metropolis, it’s up to Amanda Waller to assemble a team of Metropolis’s deadliest villains to stop it.


Well I have no real memory of New Oa from Kingdom Come (or was that just what Green Lantern called his floating base?), but that's a pretty interesting assemblage of supervillains, and you can't go wrong with Tom Mandrake art.


Damn, check out that Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes cover. Why doesn't Pia Guerra draw everything all the time...?


Convergence: Superman—The Man of Steel #1
Written by LOUISE SIMONSON
Art by JUNE BRIGMAN and ROY RICHARDSON
Cover by WALTER SIMONSON
Superman is missing, so now it’s up to Steel to defend Metropolis from the GEN13 kids!


While Steel co-creator Jon Bogdanove would be my first choice for a Steel story written by Louise Simonson, there's absolutely nothing to complain about when it comes to a Walter Simonson cover or June Brigman interior art. Funny, I just read a comic by Brigman a few months ago, and was wondering on the blog more recently why we don't see her work more often, as it's pretty damn incredible.

So I'm really rather looking forward to this one—and if Grunge and the Guy Who Definitely Isn't Johnny Storm get hit in their stupid faces with a big-ass hammer, all the better!


Convergence: Swamp Thing #1
Written by LEN WEIN
Art and cover by KELLEY JONES
The dome has cut off all the heroes from their powers – but what happens when Swamp Thing is cut off from his life source in The Green?


Fuck yeah, Kelley Jones! Jones has drawn some of the best goddam Swamp Thing ever, in the pages of 1995's Batman #521 and #522, so I look forward to seeing how he draws Swampy again after almost 20 years of drawing experience.


Convergence: The Titans #1
Written by FABIAN NICIEZA
Art RON WAGNER and JOSE MARZAN, JR.
Cover by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO
Starfire and Donna Troy track down Arsenal, who had retreated after the loss of his arm and the death of his daughter – but what they find is more terrifying than they ever could have expected!


Because if there's one storyline from the post-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint that needed followed-up on, it was this one:
Justice League: Cry For Justice (including pretty much everything that happened in it or occurred in it's follow-up stories) is another good reason for DC to have rebooted their continuity (Just to be clear, I don't think The New 52-boot was the right way to reboot, but the publisher engaged in an awful lot of really terrible comics from which characters couldn't recover, and Cry and it's follow-ups were among them).