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DC SHOWCASE PRESENTS HOUSE OF MYSTERY VOL. 1
SENSATIONAL SPIDER MAN #23
Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents SAIYUKI
Indie Jones presents…
DC SHOWCASE PRESENTS HOUSE OF MYSTERY VOL. 1
Written by Joe Orlando, Sergio Aragones, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway, Robert Kanigher
Art by Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, Sergio Aragones, Alex Toth, Jack Kirby, Tony DeZuniga, Wally Wood, Carmine Infantino
Published by DC Comics
Reviewed by Buzz Maverik
"Did you ever kill anyone?" my cousin asked me. We were both 8 years old.
"Yeah," I said, figuring that I probably would some day. They'd be enemy agents. I'd be given medals and fast cars for doing it. Chicks, too, although I had only the vaguest idea why.
"You want to see what's going to happen to you?" he asked.
I nodded. He produced a beat up horror comic. It might have been one of the day or a back issue someone had given him. If you or I saw it today, we would recognize it as a knock off of the EC classic horror titles from the early 1950s. Timely/Marvel did only a few, preferring their monsters to be the big atomic bug/alien/Japanese monster types. Charlton, Gold Key and especially DC, on the other hand, always kept the EC tradition alive, in somewhat tamer versions.
The story my cousin showed me was an inferior morality play about some frat boy types who trick a pledge into diving into an empty swimming pool. The pledge dies, the frat boys go scott free, and a pair of men in black suits show up to escort them to Hell.
Scared the living shit out of me at the time. It didn't occur to me until long into a sleepless night that lots of people kill people and don't get taken to Hell by pale skinned guys in fedoras...I mean, look at the Manson bunch. Tex and Squeeky and Lenny and Squiggy were still breathing air. I figured the pasty guys would come for me because I had a sick enough sense of humor to find the swimming pool gag funny and since I planned to grow up and kill legions of super-villain henchmen. I wondered why they'd never taken Pa Maverik. In WW II, the big 'un, he got medals for killing enough Japanese marines to cast the extras in all the Godzilla movies Toho Studios ever made. Probably the pale guys were scared of Pa Maverik. I know I sure as hell was!
I don't know if that story was in THE HOUSE OF MYSTERY or not. In DC's latest SHOWCASE, their answer to Marvel's ESSENTIALS, you'll find tons of similar stories. Since HOM (not the Bendis thing), was an anthology book, we get a load of stories here, mostly shorts.
Superheroes, of course, have not always been the dominant genre in comic books. But comic books have always been a genre driven medium. Horror certainly was big and clearly attracted some of the best talents in the business. Here, we've got early collaborations by SWAMP THING co-creators Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson (as well as some of Mr. Wrightson's brilliant cover work). Neal Adams did many striking covers as well. Art guys, please explain to everyone the genius of Alex Toth's lines and shades. It seems so simple but why can't I do that? And why can't legions of talented, professional artists approach Toth's high level?
Anthology books are great. Collected en masse, they are almost psychedelic. All those different styles, some detailed, some sketchy, crazy lettering, skewed perspectives.
I'm a Marvel Zombie. I love DC, have preferred DC many times, but while I can tell you in detail about years of Marvel history that I've never personally set eyes on, I don't know much about DC. I first encountered THE HOUSE O' MYSTERY through the works of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, where Cain and Abel would appear in SWAMP THING or SANDMAN.
My biggest surprise? The dark humored shorts by Sergio Aragones, best known for his Marginal Thinking gags in MAD MAGAZINE and his GROO THE WANDERER. Aragones was always my second favorite MAD creator, my favorite being their other Latin American genius, SPY VS SPY creator Antonio Prohias (remember, I aspired to being an enemy agent killer). Aragones’ strips in THE HOUSE OF MYSTERY will remind you of the best of Charles Addams. Uncle Fester is even seen in the background of some of the panels. Yeah, as a second grader, I thought getting someone to dive into an empty swimming pool was funny as hell. Remember that Addams cartoon where we see all the warning signs like "Shallow, No Diving" and "Stop" on the wall of Pugsley's room?
I'm grateful to DC for the SHOWCASES. If a Marvel Zombie like me needs the ESSENTIALS to really know Marvel, imagine how much DC catching up I have to do!
SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #23
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Acasa
Pencils: Angel Medina
Inks: Scott Hanna
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Are you like me? Are you burned out on all of the awful Spider-Man stories that have been floating around for…I dunno…like…forever and a Tuesday? Are you sick of seeing the essence of Spider-Man being deconstructed? Or having him “changed” in some earth-shattering way that will eventually be ignored by the next big creative team to tackle the property? Are you sick of Spider-Man being teh suck?!?!?
Well, me the hell too!
Growing up, Spider-Man was the hero I loved the most. I couldn’t get enough of him, because dammit, he was me. Of course, I didn’t have a supermodel for a wife or super-powers and the Green Goblin never really tried to blow me up (although my best friend did hit me with a bottle rocket and it exploded in my face one time and burned off my eyebrows), but boiled down to basics he was just like me. A guy who tries to do the right thing, but doesn’t seem to get a break. A guy who worries and feels responsible. A guy who cares a bit too much and feels as if he has to do what he can because he can. Spider-Man is everyone’s conscience. He’s that sense of responsibility. He’s the hero in all of us who realizes that as you grow, you not only grow on the outside, but you have to grow on the inside as well to be a good person. He’s a hero. He was my hero.
I don’t know if it is over-exposure or misunderstanding or Marvel concentrating on other properties and forgetting that Spider-Man is the most recognizable hero they have, but mainstream Spidey comics have sucked for so long, I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed them.
Hot on the heels of the dag-nasty THE OTHER: EVOLVE OR DIE crossover, a new creative team takes over one of Spider-Man’s ongoing titles and the result is a breath of fresh air. It’s been a while, but in one issue writer Roberto Aguirre-Acasa has leapt back to the serialized, interconnected universe that Spider-Man used to bound around in in all of my favorite old Spidey comics. Aguirre-Acasa (who for the sake of the rest of this review will be referred to as A-A because…well…I’m lazy) brings back old characters like Curt Connors and John Jameson. He relies on the readers’ past knowledge of how all of these characters used to interact to expand on that story and build a new one. It’s the spandexed soap opera that was the Spidey titles for so long before it all went pear-shaped somewhere in the nineties. And it’s refreshing to see A-A returning to such a nice old standard.
In this issue, we get Spidey acting wonky. MJ acting wonky. The Vulture acting wonky. John Jameson acting wonky. And a whole messload of animals at the zoo acting wonky. That’s a whole lot of wonkiness going on and you don’t have to be Madame Web to know that all of this is interconnected somehow. A-A really interweaves these characters together nicely and writes each with a distinct voice. The big action scene of the book with the Vulture is especially nice and it ends with a truly startling revelation. A-A also does a great job of building suspense for the cliff hanger with Curt Connors. It’s a sequence that I have read a million times, but A-A really does a great job with dialog to intensify the dire magnitude of this scene.
Angel Medina has one of those herky-jerky art styles that have always been hit and miss for my tastes. He definitely has talent and his depictions of Spider-Man are tip top, but I find his pencils a bit distracting when he’s just drawing regular people. His style is very kinetic with lots of lines and detailing, but sometimes, this characteristic of his style clutters the page and makes things confusing. I like the art and think that Medina is dead on with the action scenes, but I wish he would tone it down for the more quiet scenes of the book. It would make for a much more effective read.
I’m recommending this book because it reads like an old Spider-Man comic. There’s no mention of spinnerettes. No wrist spikes from THE OTHER crossover. No weird Spider-God totem shit. Just baddies in costumes making Spidey’s life miserable. It’s Spidey, the way he used to be, and that’s pretty okay to me.
Writer: Brian Wood
Penciler: Riccardo Burchielli
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
It seems that we here at AICN have been throwing a lot of praise towards Mr. Wood here in the recent months. Some of my fellow reviewers gave his work on LOCAL some high praise a couple weeks ago, I know one of the guys gave the first issue of this series a nice nod, and I personally recommended DEMO as one of the best purchases of 2005 a few weeks ago as well. Well, now I'm here to add even more praise onto the Woodpile (get it? WOOD-pile! ahahahahaha..... eh, yea, I suck). But anyway, I'm here to say that DMZ is one of the best books on the market, and this issue is a great showcase for the kind of innovative storytelling that Brian Wood is bringing to the medium of comic books.
If you don't know by now, the premise of DMZ is actually a rather simplistic one. Manhattan Isle is the center point of civil war and has become the so-called Demilitarized Zone the title implies. One Matthew Roth is a young journalist that has been abandoned in the DMZ and has taken on the job of trying to report on whatever he can, the state of the borough, the destruction that has be wrought, and most importantly, the state of the people living in the DMZ.
This issue, titled "Ghosts", is a self-contained story that finds Matthew in what's left of Central Park in the middle of winter time. Apparently there's an urban myth of a group of Special Forces soldiers, called "The Ghosts", who were tasked to go into the DMZ for whatever reason and instead decided to go AWOL and have taken to the underground. But instead what Matthew finds is something totally different but just as intriguing as the idea of the rogue SF group.
Instead of "Ghosts" Matthew actually finds himself in the middle of Central Park Zoo, which has undergone some rather unique changes. The group inhabiting it has turned it into a habitat for welfare and survival in the midst of the desolation that has become Manhattan. And I'm sure you can probably surmise what this group turns out to be, but trust me, the writing is still good enough to not make you notice as Wood takes us on a journey through the Zoo and gives us more glimpses into the state of Manhattan. Things have gotten so bad that Central Park is now pretty much "deforested". The people in the surrounding areas have now gotten to the point to where they are willing to kill just to have wood to burn during the harsher parts of winter. The Zoo itself though has become a marvel. Bamboo is allowed to grow wild as it not only serves as a means of warmth, but of construction material and even nourishment. The structure of the Zoo itself has gone underground like its inhabitants as it literally has been covered to the top with dirt. All these concepts are very interesting, and give us an uneasy feeling of hope given the usually glib circumstances that surround the backdrop of the book.
I really can't think of any higher compliment to give this book than to say that really, it reminds me of another highly classic Vertigo series, TRANSMETROPOLITAN. Seeing Matty down on the street and doing his best to give the people a voice as the war rages is very Spider Jerusalem-like. And while this book may not have the eccentricity of TRANSMET, it does have its own energy and sense of style and humor that give it a lot of the same atmosphere. Also, the writing is just as brimming with ideas for its own near future environment as TRANSMET was for the far future. Just like Darick Robertson too, Riccardo Burchielli brings very detailed and realistic pencils to the pages of DMZ giving the book that extra nudge to truly feel "alive". And it packs that extra emotional punch whenever we revisit the horrors that the war has brought. It's great visual storytelling is what it is. Burchielli was a really great find for this title.
There you go. DMZ = innovative thinking, insight into the real world surrounding us, a slight bit of quirkiness, and tons of emotional resonance. If that doesn't seem like your cup of tea, then I honestly don't know why you even read comics. If those are the things that you want from your comics, well then I guess you just found your salvation.
CREATOR: Kazuya Minekura
Reviewer: Dan Grendell
An Overview of 9 Volumes
I have a fondness for classic Asian literature. Something about the way the stories were told then and the usual oddness of the subject matter appeals to me. So, when I discovered that SAIYUKI is based loosed loosely on Xi You Ji (Journey to the West), a 16th-century book considered one of the Four Classical Novels of Chinese literature, my interest was piqued. When I learned that it featured Son Goku, the uninhibited fighting Monkey God of Chinese myth, I knew I was in for a wild ride. And wild it is.
The story starts in Shangri-La, where humans and the supernatural youkai once lived in harmony. Several years ago, though, the youkai all went insane and started murdering and eating people. Seems a forbidden mixing of youkai magic and human science far to the West, in India, created a Minus Wave that turned all the youkai into mindless monsters. This use of science and magic is all part of a process to revive the Ox King Gyumaoh, a horrible youkai sealed in his castle by the war god Nataku hundreds of years ago. To stop his revival and restore the youkai to normal, Heaven chooses four heroes. Genjyo Sanzo, one of the five holiest Buddhist priests in the world, is also a smoking, drinking, gambling, surly egomaniac and the leader of the group, quick with his gun and his fan. Son Goku, the childlike Monkey King, is a youkai with incredible power that is constantly hungry and always arguing with Sha Gojyu, a horndog half-youkai who smokes like a chimney and fights with a staff and sickle connected by a chain. The final member of the group is Cho Hakkai, a pleasant and polite youkai who fights with chi manipulation and brings along Jeep, a tiny dragon that can turn into a, well, jeep. They use it to get around. Because of their connections to humanity, the youkai in the group have been unaffected by the Minus Wave.
They are opposed by some powerful people, though, who have their own reasons for wanting the Minus Wave to continue. Kougaiji, Gyumaoh's half-youkai son, is a powerful magician and charismatic leader. His half-sister, Lirin, is a pint-sized bundle of energy with skill and power that belies her juvenile attitude. Yaone, the alchemist and assassin, owes Kougaiji her life but has a strange attraction to Hakkai, and Dokugakuji, Kougaiji's youkai swordsman, has sworn himself to his master's service, but has an old connection to Gojyu. Behind it all, with her own plans, is Lirin's mother, the skanky Gyokumen, who uses Kougaiji and his crew as pawns.
Here's a quick overview of the highlights of each volume.
Volume One: The gang are gathered together, set off, and are attacked by youkai. They manage to kill them, even a powerful and gross spider-woman. They later stay at a temple and are attacked again, and Sanzo shows just what a bad Buddhist he is and corrupts an acolyte.
Volume Two: A grieving woman needs our heroes' help, and Yaone tries to assassinate them, leading to their first meeting with Gyumaoh. Also, a priest from Sanzo's past returns with a problem.
Volume Three: Goku goes out of control after his Power Limiter is destroyed and Kanzeon Bosatsu is required to resolve the situation, Lirin's attack on the boys is interrupted by an assault by a shikigami, and Gojyu and Dokugakuji meet face to face.
Volume Four: The fortune-teller Chin Yisou attacks and Hakkai's past is revealed.
Volume Five: We flashback to the first meeting of the four heroes, and they defeat a desert youkai while in search of a Sutra.
Volume Six: Trapped in the desert and faced with an attack by Kougaiji, Goku cuts loose again and nearly kills everyone, and Gyokumen betrays a wounded Kougaiji and brainwashes him.
Volume Seven: A manipulated youkai child ambushes the group, and Gojyo leaves to find the priest that used the boy.
Volume Eight: Without Gojyo, the boys find themselves unable to continue, so they look for him to kick his ass for leaving. A horrible defeat at the hands of the puppetmaster priest tests their wills.
Volume Nine: A night of mahjongg gives a new viewpoint on things, and teamwork is suggested- and used to kill the priest. The journey continues.
This series is a lot of fun, and while the action and story are very cool, the real star is the dialogue. The characters all speak like people. There is a lot of swearing, because people swear casually all the time. There's slang, contractions, and that sort of thing, for the same reason, but it never feels overdone. It doesn't feel tacked on. It just feels natural, like "of course that's how they would talk". And that's how dialogue should be. Not everyone talks like that- a few characters are more highfalutin' - but that's dead on, too. Some people are. Minekura's dialogue goes a long way towards making the characters feel real, and that's a huge part of an entertaining story.
The art is cool, too, with a slightly unreal quality to it that is especially evident in the fight scenes. Characters are all lankier and more stretched than realistic, and tend to move like they have ball bearings for joints. In combat, this makes for epic martial arts movements with mighty swings and crazy jumps, but it can also sometimes be hard to follow what is happening. The costume design for the characters is quite interesting, a mix of Asian and western fantasy elements that succeeds more often than it fails and gives a cool look. I wish we could see more different kinds of youkai, instead of the common mooks that show up so often, but the freaky ones we do see are definitely sweet.
I somehow doubt that SAIYUKI has much more than basic elements in common with the original Chinese story, but the adaptation is a cool one, full of action and attitude that will make it one of the new classics.
JEREMIAH HARM #1
This is the type of comic that Keith Giffen and Alan Grant do best. Tough as hell intergalactic badass anti-hero juggernauting his way through the universe against even more despicable aliens. Sure, one may think this is another LOBO or TRENCHER knock-off, but Giffen and Grant have a little thing called story going for them too with this one. Sure, a character with a cigar lighter built into his thumb sounds kind of cool, but the real coolness comes in the form of the three baddies who escape an intergalactic prison. In the same prison? You guessed it. Old Jeremiah Harm. And he’s the only one who can stop these guys because he’s stopped them before. Add on some pretty astounding and gritty artwork from newcomer Rael Lyra and you have yet another quality surprise from BOOM! Studios. - Ambush Bug
7 DAYS TO FAME #2
The first issue of this series entertained me enough to get me to give the second issue a shot and I’m glad I stuck with this one. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this story, but as it unfolds I appreciate that aspect of it all. This book centers on a television series which focuses on highlighting the life of one person, then on the seventh day, the guest kills him or herself on the air. Issue two deals with the fallout of the big suicide in issue one and of course, things are quickly spinning out of control for the show’s host and producer. This is a book which goes for the jugular and isn’t afraid to tackle topics mainstream books are afraid to touch. This book is a true surprise. - Ambush Bug
After Hours Press
TURA AND EVA #1
This was a fun romp from talented creator Jim Sumii. Tura and Eva may look like Betty and Veronica clones, but they sure don’t act like them. Full of angst, spite, and general pissed-offedness, this pair of heroines comment about the comics industry, break the fourth wall and bitch a their creator for not producing more stories about them and get into one crazy adventure after the next. This oversized first issue collects five mini-adventures that read like smart-assed Sunday comics gone wrong. It’s very self aware, often hilarious, and worth picking up. - Ambush Bug
OZF5: GALE FORCE #1
Reinterpretations are a tricky thing. One may say that you aren’t really creating something if all you are doing is reimagining an already pretty imaginative story, but if the reimagining is pretty imaginative, then I say, give it a pass. OZF5 is such a story. Issue one throws the reader smack dab in the middle of an all out battle as three warriors (Scarecrow: a nimble martial artist made of straw, the Tin Woodsman: a human locomotive with an axe, and the face-painted, kilt-wearing, Braveheart-like Lion) battle it out against the Wicked Witch’s futuristic dark forces. Pretty soon a moon-suited Dorothy and her snarling canine show up to add to the carnage. Writer Ramon Madrigal and artist Ryan Ottley do a great job of making these classic characters fit into this comic booky, future-drenched scenario. I have to give props to whoever came up with the concept of a boneless martial artist made of straw. Seeing the Scarecrow kick @$$ kung-fu style is truly inspired. - Ambush Bug
Remember, if you have an Indie book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.
Remember, if you have an Indie book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.
GREEN ARROW #59
Completely ridiculous throughout. Ollie is forced to have an “arrow-to-arrow” match-up with Merlyn as the city he has sworn to protect gets blowed up real good. Mia (aka AIDSy the sidekick aka victim #1) is buried under rubble. Black Lightning completely disrespects and discredits fire fighters who themselves should be looked at as heroes, but instead are reduced to thumb-up-their-@$$ers while BL sifts through wreckage. And this issue tops things off with a bare-chested, concussed, and completely out-of-character Connor Hawke (aka victim #2) bursting from an ambulance and running down the street shouting “Hold on, everyone! I’m coming!” in one of the most unintentionally funny scenes in the book. This book has basically been reduced to a five part battle between Ollie and Black Lightning/Ollie and Dr. Light/Ollie and Merlyn. What could have been an intense thrill a minute nail-biter has been drawn out to an exasperating snooze. - Bug
GHOST RIDER #6
Garth, Garth, Garth. It just hasn't been a good month for you, has it? The first issue of FURY: PEACEMAKER was pretty typical fanfare, and now this...well this is just bad. Everything in this issue is just so off kilter. There's random double and triple crosses in the story that make it confusing. There's tons of exposition that just renders any energy this book might have inert. And the art is still way too busy to make out what the hell is going on at times. It may look beautiful on covers or when there's a splash page, but for the most part it's just a muddled mess. I don't even think I could recommend this in trade it
got so lackluster after the halfway point. Pity, it started out so well too. - Humphrey
FRANKLIN RICHARDS - SON OF A GENIUS: EVERYONE LOVES FRANKLIN ONE SHOT #1
Another hilarious issue of the ornery adventures of that little shit Franklin Richards and his robotic nanny H.E.R.B.I.E. This issue collects more of the Franklin short tales that have been popping up with more frequency throughout the Marvel titles. This is the first take on the Franklin character that hasn’t annoyed the hell out of me, so creators Chris Eliopoulos and Mark Sumerak must be doing something right. - Bug
Last month I said Denise Mina seemed to have a solid grasp on the world of John Constantine. That continues to be the case in this issue, as he leaves a pub on a road trip to Scotland and we get a flashback to the isle of Iona, where Christianity first hit the British Isles (and burial site of King MacBeth, among scores of other kings). Mina’s done her homework, as we see an appearance by St. Columba—but see him involved in some unsavory actions that apparently have reverbrations in the modern age. Where Mina is a tad off this issue, though, is in portraying the character of John Constantine. I don’t know if it’s the bad influence of the recent movie or if she’s missed a crucial aspect of Constantine, but it’s a glaring enough slip-up to make longtime fans nervous. I own hundreds of appearances by this character, and I feel fairly comfortable saying John isn’t the type to whip out a blessed (or cursed) knife and take out four guys in a parking lot. Demons or no, it’s very much out of character for John, and makes me a little less sure of the direction the title is going than I was a week ago. I’ll still be on board, but with a bit more trepidation.--Sleazy G
This issue marks Devin Grayson’s big finish to her run on the title. Devin tries to scrunch too much into this issue to wrap her extended stint of destroying every aspect of Nightwing’s life up into a little bow. Nightwing basically hops from one place to another throughout this issue, having forced and terse conversations that quickly wrap up with an unfulfilling final scene with Barbara Gordon. The final issue of her run seems forced and completely rushed. Had Devin spent more time expanding on the “big rebuild” of Nightwing’s life rather than focusing on fucking it up so successfully during stint of her run on the title, this may have been a more successful story, but one issue of “climbing from the ashes triumphantly” after almost 20 of Dick wallowing in them doesn’t make for a very interesting story and shows what the writer found to be the most interesting and, coincidentally, the less challenging story to tell. - Bug
INCREDIBLE HULK #92
Well, PLANET HULK is upon us and what do I think? Eh, not a bad start. The writing is very solid and in the realm of "above average" and the art is actually rather impressive and dynamic. But this is the beginning of a fourteen part storyline so we don't get much into the overall scope of it so much as we just get to "Hulk lands on an alien planet and is enslaved." It's not a terribly original plot point at all, but the book really is fun. The action is a great rush, and there are some very clever jokes and puns based on the Hulk's typical
assortment of sayings and doings. I really hope that the story develops into something more unique and polished than what we're presented with here, but again, this issue was really very energetic and promising. I'm not sure how this can all be stretched into something that's planned to last for more than a year, but if we can keep up this kind of excitement, it should all go by very quickly. - Humphrey
SUPREME POWER: NIGHTHAWK #6
Daniel Way’s gruesome and gritty miniseries focusing on the Batman analog Nighthawk comes to a close. Although it ended abruptly, this series definitely never ceased to be entertaining. In this issue, Nighthawk has a final confrontation with Whiteface. It’s gory. It’s tough. And it’s definitely worthy of the MAX imprint. It’s proof positive that Marvel can tell stories for mature audiences. It just sucks that the regular SUPREME POWER series is going to the Marvel Knights line because a tale like this couldn’t be told there. - Bug
I have to admit, one of the more interesting side affects of INFINITE CRISIS for me is getting to see some of the DC bigwigs step out from behind their desks and try to prove they have the chops to write a story. I don’t know that I’ve ever read anything written by Paul Levitz before. So how does he do? Not bad. Sure, it’s a bit odd to read a Gentleman Ghost who talks more like a pirate than a Lord, but there’s a real charm to much of the book. The issue focuses on Power Girl and the difficult choice she was asked to make a few issues back in IC. She goes to the real Red Tornado, Ma Hunkel, for advice. We get some wonderful flashbacks drawn by up-and-comers George Perez and Bob Wiacek, set on an alternate Earth, with lots of Sprang-y influences. There’s also a moment where Ma breaks the “code” Power Girl can’t figure out that made me smile and feel really old. Lots of great little touches, lots of emotion, lots of action—and just a hint of the corniness that made reading comics so much fun when I was a kid. Overall, a pretty solid opener from Levitz before he kicks off the One Year Later tales of the JSA next month.--Sleazy G
Still digging this series. As Ares cuts a bloody path to Olympus to retrieve his kidnapped son, he runs into Achilles and an army of warriors from the East. It’s cool to see Ares use all forms of weaponry from all times and places to beat the living shit out of all who oppose him. This issue also sports a nice little guest appearance by the Avenger Hercules. After Oeming’s disastrous run on THOR, I wasn’t expecting much from this series, but color me impressed. - Bug
SABLE & FORTUNE #2
Marvel gives two new kids, writer Brendan Cahill and artist John M. Burns, a chance to show their stuff with a couple of underused Marvel characters. The first couple of issues are a bit of a pastiche of various influences, and a little on the familiar side. They’re also entertaining and fun, though—enough so to keep me around for the rest of the mini, at least. Sadly, Marvel doesn’t support up-and-comers the way they do their pet writers. Some people get two years to finish a miniseries, and others have six-issue miniseries get no promotional campaign at all and end up cut back to four issues within a coupla weeks of the first issue hitting the stands. I’ll keep picking it up because I think these guys have potential and could use the support. Hopefully they won’t get their legs cut out from under them on their next outing.-- Sleazy G
LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #200
This is one of those titles that I always kick myself for continuing to buy. The problem with an ongoing book which features definitive stories from different creative teams is that, for the most part, you get a lot of shitty reads in between the few moments of goodness. This issue was one of those moments of goodness, though. Eddie Campbell and Darren White write a pretty straightforward, old school Batman vs. Joker story where the Batman must save the Joker’s life in order to find out where he has planted a bomb. There are twists and turns and even some detective work in this one. It’s not too angsty and stays away form the clichÃ© of having Batman decide whether or not he wants the Joker to live or die because of all of the evil shit he’s done. Campbell and White seem to understand the character of the Joker in that he isn’t really as crazy as he seems and that at his core, he is a performer vying for the Batman’s attention. And I have to give the writers props for coming up with a cool way for the Joker to fake his own death in the end. Plus, Bart Sears tones down his art a little for this one. The balloon people from his CAPTAIN AMERICA/FALCON stint are gone in favor of a more realistic approach and more attention to panel to panel cohesiveness. All in all, this is a LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT issue that is better than most. - Bug
Ambush Bug here. Last week, I accidentally ran the wrong cover for THE LIGHT BRIGADE TRADE PAPERBACK cover in my review. So here’s the correct cover to this excellent read. Be sure to seek it out, you will not be disappointed.