Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS: BATMAN/SUPERMAN! LAZARUS! NOVA! & MORE!

Published at: July 3, 2013, 1:37 a.m. CST

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Advance Review: BATMAN INC #12
LAZARUS #1
LARFLEEZE #1
DAREDEVIL #27
AQUAMAN #21
THE BOUNCE #2
BATMAN/SUPERMAN #1
NOVA #5
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #2
UNWRITTEN #50
Opinions Are Like @$$Holes: @$$IE LEAKS Part Two!


Advance Review: In stores today!

BATMAN INCORPORATED #12

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


I was seeing a deeper red than this cover last month. Instead of holding in my hands the onslaught of Mecha-Manbat-Batman, we were taken to a land far away from Gotham for another box down on the BATMAN INC. org chart. Don’t get me wrong; it was a fine issue, but I’m bothered by the LLCing of superheroes and I wanted to see vengeance exacted on Damian’s killers. Morrison created one of the most enduring mythos in Bat history with this family consummated by blood; anything else simply can’t measure up.

I really don’t need to write this review other than the need to release a welling of geek. If you’ve been reading this series, missing these final issues is the equivalent of having a climax choked off by your mother walking in the room. No one should self-inflict such an intrusion on themselves. If you haven’t been reading this series, don’t start now - it would be just stupid. Kind of like going to a buffet and coming back to the table with a gob of whipped sweet butter. Delicious, but you missed the point of your journey.

No exposition, no getting up to speed--page one picks up exactly as we left issue 11 (excuse me, I meant 10 – passive aggressive off), with a wrath of rage coming straight at Talia Al Ghul’s slinky body and skeletal black mask. But Bruce’s first business is to take care of the man…thing…that was the guillotine operator in Damian’s demise, Leviathan. The architect will wait until next issue (better be next issue). Much of the issue was once again seeing the ingenious fight choreography that has become a staple of this team. BATMAN and Leviathan work the levels of Gotham City, making it a truly 3-D brouhaha. I won’t spoil the surprise of what’s under Leviathan’s mask after Bruce metaphorically and actually cracks through the clone’s armor, but it sits on a level of creepy that could only be devised by the madness of Morrison. It’s disturbing, but not nearly as disturbing as the fate that ultimately awaits the clone when it reports its defeat to “mommy.”

This will be a short review, because there’s no need to sell anything about this title, and it is only a small small fraction of the whole and enveloped joy that’s been BATMAN INC.

Next, “have you ever danced with the devil in her slathered skin tights?”

Optimous Douche has successfully blackmailed BottleImp to draw purty pictures for his graphic novel AVERAGE JOE coming out in 2013 from COM.X. When not on Ain’t It Cool, Optimous can be found talking comics and marketing on robpatey.com and just marketing on MaaS360.com.


LAZARUS #1

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


Not to start this review off in a dour way, or more honestly in a “well FUCKING duh” sense to you readers as I point out the obvious, but the way things are working these days is in a fashion that really does not have much concern for how most of us live our lives. Wealth is being dangerously concentrated at the top of the social chain, we’re being spied on from the skies down to our search engine inquiries, our cooking with butter and more butter celebrities are being crucified for being racist (won’t somebody please think of the fat children!), and the hits keep coming each and every day. About the only thing positive out of this mess is that there seems to be nothing better for getting the creative juices of talented people flowing than social/economic inequality and privacy infringement. Enter Greg Rucka…

When things get commentary the commentary usually goes dystopian with a side of science fiction, and LAZARUS is no exception. Rucka has taken his concern over a world where 1% of the world’s population owns 40% of its wealth (his concern and these stats discussed in some very candid back matter at the end of the issue) and turned out a story where this number has become so exacerbated a handful of family dynasties essentially possess all the money and therefore the world. Each of these families also invests heavy amounts of their vast fortunes into one of their members to be the “sword and shield”, as the foreword puts it--the person who has every advancement the future world can bring them in order to protect their status, calling them The Lazarus. The Lazarus we care about in this case is Forever “Eve” Carlyle. Our journey with her begins with her getting shot a bunch.

I know I said I didn’t want to start this review off in a dour way, but apparently Mr. Rucka had no such hang up going with that tone to start off this issue. And to develop the middle part of this issue as well. Okay, and by also ending it with that kind of atmosphere. This is not a happy world, and Eve does not seem entirely pleased with her place within its confines. I imagine a large bit of that would stem from having multiple bullets put into her from scavengers just looking for some supplies and then brutally putting them down because that is what is expected of her, and because it’s a way to show off how enhanced people can be in this take on the future. It could also come from having a forceful, trumped up on his own importance brother pushing her to uphold this role she’s clearly not comfortable with anymore. Either way, there is a discontent stirring within her – not unlike the Occupy Wall Street forces Rucka reminisces about in that aforementioned back matter – and this is going to be the driving force inside this story that I also imagine will be full of politics and warring between these families and economies of scale.

Because I like to think I know Greg Rucka’s work pretty well by now, this all sounds great to me. In all of the realms of geekdom we share, I honestly think Rucka’s writing of strong and intricately flawed (i.e. human) female leads is on the level of being Whedonesque. They may be warrior women on top, but the layers run deep and I do not see Eve being an exception. I guess maybe this could be seen as a drawback in the vein of it being the default material for most of Rucka’s work – particularly in comics – but as Joss Whedon essentially put it, he’ll stop writing these strong, female leads when people finally stop asking him why he continues to do so and I feel that with Rucka’s track record with handling the gender he has adapted that stance. With her remorseful and despondent sides showing and conflicting with her loyalty and straight up brutality when it comes to dealing with threats to her family, Eve looks like she’ll be right in the Rucka mold as female lead.

While Eve may be the main character of the Greg Rucka joint, if anything is to be said of this book, it’s that Michael Lark might be the goddamned star. His art in this book is absolutely fantastic. It’s as wonderfully rendered as you would expect given his track record from books like GOTHAM CENTRAL and what he brought to the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA a bit back. I really think he may have the best grasp of panel flow in the business. It seems like such a trivial thing, but it really means a lot to the impact the events of these books have because it’s in those little transitions that we can watch the establishing shots set the stage for us, or the kinetic energy of a fight sequence carry over several pages, or the emotional impact of a moment really settle into our mindsets and influence the atmosphere of the book. Lark does it in spades, and with a wide range of expression and some really visceral detail. The story reads very solidly, but the selling point of LAZARUS in this first issue is how Michael Lark brings it to life.

LAZARUS is not the treatise it could be on wealth inequality and how much it is costing us as a civilized people--at least not yet, it isn’t. It does not ride a wave of populous rage in its pages though it does have some really grim, matter-of-fact violence that hits home because of why it is happening in the first place: people are hurting. Forever Carlyle is starting to hurt inside as well, and I’m sure as this book starts to deal with the issues of this imbalanced future on a larger level than it does in this issue Eve will also start to transform. And that is where I expect the magic to happen as these conflicts arise, both emotionally inside Eve’s brain space and in very heated and sometimes violent political terms. Hell, I’m not even sure if the politics of this day aren’t just people lining up to be shot as it’s still vague how these families work their control and influence on the world, giving another interesting angle for Rucka and Lark to work as they flesh out this world and Eve’s place in it. All I know is that I saw enough in this first issue to know I want to watch these aspects of the book play out. I may not be “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” after some of the commentary in this issue (though let it be noted I already spent most of the past half decade screaming at the sky about such issues) but I’m relieved it did not devolve into that state and will hopefully let the characterization do some more walking first. Then once we’ve got our emotional tie to this world gone greedy it’ll be time to shake our fist at its injustices and our own. And I am a man who loves his fist pumping. Cheers…

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.


LARFLEEZE #1

Writers: Keith Giffen/J.M. Dematteis
Art: Scott Kolins
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler


Larfleeze is a pretty weird character, and by weird I mean awesome. Anyone who has come to know him since he was first introduced in 2007 (as the color Corps in the DCU were expanding beyond green to include every hue of the rainbow) knows that he is odd creation and that is precisely what makes him endearing to his fans. For the uninitiated, Larfleeze is the sole representative of the Orange Lantern Corps, otherwise known as Agent Orange, the one and only Orange Lantern--the explanation for this being that the greed produced by that sole Lantern makes it impossible for more than one Orange Lantern to exist, solely because he can't share that power. It's funny and impressive within the confines of the story when you realize this one greedy weird being holds the power of an entire Corps within him.

Larfleeze has grown on fans of Green Lantern over the past several years and has had some fun background stories to star in. My personal favorite of the bunch was the LARFLEEZE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL ( a ridiculously fun story that basically hinges on Hal Jordan having to explain to Larfleeze that Santa doesn't exist ). As the character has grown, despite being mad and greed-obsessed to the point of lunacy, there have been some layers of depth added, and with the current LARFLEEZE #1 we get a nice background story for our beloved Orange Lantern.

Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis tell a story of Larfleeze down and out, having lost all of his stuff (pretty much the worst possible outcome for the champion of greed) , spending what seems to be the last of his moments at the edge of time and space sharing his backstory with the only thing he has left: his personal manservant Stargrave. As time ticks away at the remaining power in his ring and what seems to be his life, Larfleeze wastes his last moments telling his darkly humorous origin story (seriously--it might be the oddest, most disturbing birth scene ever in comics). I won't go into spoilers about how it all ends, but just know this is an ongoing series so obviously we have some more Larfleeze tales to come.

Overall, LARFLEEZE #1 was much better than I expected, and its lighthearted yet dark take on his origin story made me glad I picked it up this week. The story, coupled with Scott Kolins’ art, which comes off as more cartoon-like than the other Lantern titles out, shows me that the creators of this title understand the character of Larfleeze and don't take him too seriously ( which in this case is a good thing). They could have tried to paint some giant epic for him, giving him a serious background, and while it may have made for a great story, it wouldn't have been right for who Larfleeze is as a character.

Overall, I'm still kind of wary with this LARFLEEZE book becoming an ongoing series. I love the character, but what has always made him great is that you get him in small doses. So many times, characters are ruined by being given the mediocre starring spotlight when they are just so much better as a great side character. I'm really hoping this is one of those times that this trend defies the odds. For now I'm on board for more of Larfleeze's offbeat adventures, and I hope we get to see him remain that odd man (dog?) out for many issues to come.

Larry Gallagher is a freelance writer from Jersey City, NJ. He can often be found across the wide expanse of the interwebs writing under his alter ego “The Writing Rambler”. He is a simple man who believes we’d all be better off if we just read more comics and shared a burrito once in a while. You can follow Larry’s exploits on Twitter @Writing_Rambler


DAREDEVIL #27

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


All the Hand’s Ninja’s and all the clan’s men couldn’t put Bullseye back together again.

Over the years, the comic book industry has been laden with multiple marketing tactics. Everything from re-imagining to re-numbering has been attempted in an effort to generate new readership and bolster sales figures. One may come to ponder why Daredevil wasn’t officially included in the Marvel Now re-launch. It’s quite simple, really; you don’t need gimmicks when you have talent like Waid and Samnee.

Having a major archfiend return after their apparent demise is something comic readers are quite acquainted with. Yeah, that sort of thing happens a lot. However, when that baddie returns in such a way that you almost feel sympathetic for them, that’s something that doesn’t happen too often.

Issue #26 had Daredevil receiving a serious beatdown from his newest antagonist, Ikari, a ninja assassin with sensory powers equal to DD’S. It also sheds light on the mystery architect behind Daredevil’s ginormous set of problems to be none other than the murdering psychopath Bullseye. But this is Bullseye like you have never seen him before, completely and utterly…immobilized?!

When DD offed Bullseye during Brubaker’s “Shadowland” run, fans no doubt expected Bullseye would be coming back for revenge one day. What fans couldn’t have seen coming (ooh, sorry DD) was for Lester to be in this decrepit state. Evidently The Hand’s resurrection ritual revived Bullseye’s spirit, but his body is damaged beyond repair. Bullseye now lies sheltered in an iron lung and has had nothing to do but craft an elaborate revenge that would teach The Man Without Fear what it means to be afraid.

. One of the things I really enjoy about Waid’s writing is his ability to throw in timely plot twists and not have it feel cliché. Once again Waid does not disappoint. The drama in Issue #27 escalates beautifully. We get a true sense that those closest to DD are in great peril, and the way Murdock deals with this dilemma would make the Dark Knight himself proud. Even Daredevil’s showdown with Ikari has its share of little surprises.

Since Waid took over the title, the tone of DAREDEVIL has become more lighthearted. Chris Samnee’s more colorful and upbeat artistic approach makes for a seamless blend that completes the attitude of Waid’s storytelling perfectly. Even when the story has glimpses of the darkness seen under previous writers, it never crosses the line into true darkness.

DAREDEVIL #27 wraps up all the loose ends that have been lingering about since the first issue under this creative team, and I must say, these last 27 issues have been nothing if not excellent. I can’t wait to see what Mr. Waid and company have up their collective sleeves next for ol’ hornhead.


AQUAMAN #21

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Paul Pelletier
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


With the big ol' Trinity War weeks away, I'm surprised Aquaman will have nothing to do with it. Despite its success I suppose there's some appeal to not have AQUAMAN tie into JUSTICE LEAGUE again after “Throne of Atlantis”. Still, kind of odd seeing a comic being written by the guy in charge of the big crossover saying I'm not interested in having this crossover mess with the story I'm trying to tell in my book. I'm pretty sure the Trinity War would mess with what's currently going on in AQUAMAN too, since Johns has the King of the Seven Seas involved in about four different storylines: The Dead King, Mera's people, Ocean Master's prison break, and The Scavenger. Each one is very interesting; reading them all at once, not so much.

For Paul Pelletier's part, he's still drawing the hell out of this book. Being a meanie, I won't say he's probably going to be up for an Eisner any time soon, but I do feel this is his best work. He jams each page with as much detail and atmosphere he can. He totally seems to be trying to fill Ivan Reis' shoes, and he's doing a fair job of it. All the water effects seem to be straight out of Reis' playbook. His figures are all look gooding and he works hard at keeping Mera as hot as possible, so it's quite easy for me to say the quality of art in AQUAMAN hasn't dropped as far as I thought it would have with Ivan Reis off the book.

Now to the story: I'm all about The Scavenger. I've always been a big fan of his, so I'm really digging his storyline of irritating Aquaman to now fully declaring war on him. It's a nice progression and build-up of the character. I hope, as I do with almost everything in the New 52, that Johns will explain Scavenger and Aquaman's history (any hope of trying to make the DCU easier to understand for new readers has got to be a memory now--characters with unexplained histories keep popping up). All the business of the Dead King is pretty cool too. This is part of the mythology Johns has been building up since issue #1. The mystery of who Mera is and where she came from is quite interesting as well. She didn't start off as Aquaman's friend, let alone lover (I'm not sure I like this New 52 angle, but I am willing to see where Johns takes it). The question of who are her people, the Xebel, and why they are seemingly live in the Bermuda Triangle is all good stuff too. Then, of course, there's the continuing tale of Orm (Ocean Master) and his followers. Some Atlanteans still view him as the king, including, perhaps, his sister Tula (formerly Aquagirl). I'm not sure how she is Orm's sister but not Aquaman's sister, but then I don't think I care either. It's just Johns changing things around to create interest. Now, this is good stuff, but look at what I just wrote. All this stuff is going on at the same time. Each one is moving to a climax at the same time. I enjoy a complex tale and subplots as much as the next guy, but these aren't subplots or one tale. Each one of these is a story unto itself, and as a result each story is cheated because it doesn't have my attention long enough.

I really wish Johns would have held off on at least two of these storylines for a later date. So far there’s no reason to have them all told at the same time. To a degree, it makes me think that Johns is getting really to jump ship and he's trying to get all the storylines he wants out before he leaves. Or perhaps he's just experimenting with this type of plot-juggling story. Whatever the reason, I'm not a big fan of it.

Overall, AQUAMAN is still a superior book at DC (which on some level isn't saying much). Johns and Pelletier still deliver a good superhero comic month-in and month-out.

Learn more about the Masked Man and feel free check out his comic book CINDY LI: THREE OF A KIND and CAPTAIN ROCKET at www.Toonocity.com


THE BOUNCE #2

Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: David Messina
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: BottleImp


After reading the first two issues of THE BOUNCE, I’ve come to the realization that Joe Casey and David Messina’s blend of superheroes, science fiction and political intrigue has the potential to be an exciting and remarkable genre-twisting comic book. I’ve also come to the realization that this potential may never be fulfilled due to the unfortunate structure problems that hamper the story.

This issue finds our hero Jasper Jenkins (whom I’m assuming is the titular “The Bounce” when he’s clad in spandex—the series has yet to make that connection explicit) transported to an alternate dimension via the psychotropic aura emanated by a man calling himself The Fog. This other world seems to be populated by nothing but super-powered, costumed individuals…and one normal human: Jasper’s former drug buddy Zander. After Zander gives his friend a quick taste of what life is like being the only citizen for a world of super-types to constantly rescue, Jasper wakes back up in his own world. And it’s then that the reader is shown just who the fuck Zander is, anyway.

I’m going to back up to THE BOUNCE #1 for a sec here, because that’s where I got the first clue that the plot of this series was going to be complicated—and not in a good, WATCHMEN-kinda way. The first issue of this series ends with Jasper having inhaled The Fog’s vapors (*snicker*) and waking up in the land of spandex. Zander is there to welcome him…only the reader has no clue who Zander is. Because the reader has been told nothing about him. Not even his name. The reader has to wait until the second issue to find out his name, who he is in relation to Jasper, and why Jasper is shocked to see him. See, it turns out that Zander apparently died (along with a bunch of other nameless extras) when he and Jasper took part in a radical scientific experiment. It also turns out that it is very likely that this same experiment gave Jasper his powers. And all this information is given to reader after he or she reads the pages where Zander and Jasper interact for the first time since Zander “died.”

THIS IS THE PROBLEM. By withholding key information from the reader to be revealed at a later juncture—in this case a character’s basic identity—Joe Casey is not making the plot more mysterious; he’s making it harder for the reader to comprehend the story, and therefore more difficult to empathize with the characters. I’m not saying that I want each issue to be heavy on exposition and flashbacks, early ‘80s Marvel style, but I generally think it’s a good idea for the reader to at least know the relationships between characters. And it seems like Casey is continuing this unfortunate trend; issue #2 ends with Jasper shocked at walking in on his roommate Terry dressed in drag. I’m sure this situation would have been as shocking for the reader as for the series’ protagonist if Casey had spent any time at all setting up Terry’s character before this reveal, but the sad truth is that Terry was barely more than sketched-out before Casey decided to drop this cross-dressing “cliff-hanger.”

It seems like this is another case of a writer plotting his story for the inevitable trade collection rather than structuring around the serialized comic book format. If I had read these first two issues back-to-back with no lag in between, the structuring would still have bothered me. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as bad, since the mystery of Zander’s identity would have been made clear in a matter of seconds rather than weeks.

I’m also of two minds as to the visual aspect of the series. While I enjoy Messina’s clear, slick style and knack for dynamic action, he has a tendency to impart a certain sameness to the faces he draws. Many of the characters’ facial structures are close to identical; combined with the scattered and thus-far unconnected plot threads, this unfortunate trend of similar-looking people adds an extra layer of confusion to the already obtuse storyline.

The potential is certainly there, and perhaps when that inevitable trade collection does come out I’ll be able to read THE BOUNCE and appreciate Casey’s story and Messina’s artwork as one whole, complete piece. But as a monthly comic book, the convoluted plot and the difficulty it creates in empathizing with the characters make for a maddeningly uninspiring reading experience.

When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.


BATMAN/SUPERMAN #1

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Jae Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Perfection on paper. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about BATMAN/SUPERMAN 1 is the fact it didn’t come out 22 months ago. Pak and Lee have effectively given me exactly what I wanted from the New 52 by recreating the true beating heart of this universe from the beginning. BATMAN/SUPERMAN is the collision of optimism and cynicism, light and dark, hope and despair. It’s the superhero embodiment of life and the human condition. And it comes enveloped in lush art and deep mystery. AND IT WAS THE RIGHT WAY TO RELAUNCH THE DAMN UNIVERSE!!!!!!

As far back as FINAL CRISIS I cried out for DC to reboot; the universe had become too cumbersome and complex to sustain itself, much less welcome new readers. I asked them quite simply to launch with two titles: ACTION and DETECTIVE. It was my belief that the other characters of the DC Universe were contrivances of another age. In my wild fantasies I imagined a universe that would begin with Batman and Superman, and then introduce new superpowered companions more indicative of today slowly, patiently, organically from story instead of forcing the stories into the characters. As much as I love Booster Gold, the man and the future he came from were reflections of us looking outward from the optimistic 80s; likewise for many other of the 52 titles that time has now proved were no longer necessary (at least that’s how I view cancellations). I got my wish with EARTH 1, but my unborn child will be in college by the time those books reach issue 10. Thankfully, I can now delightfully rejoice in the corrective measure on the more rapidly scheduled BATMAN/SUPERMAN . No, it’s not going to cancel out 50 other titles, but I can tell just after one issue it will add the much-needed steak to the less than soulful sizzle that birthed the New 52 in the land of “5 years before.”

Actually, totally forget “5 years before”, because this book simply starts “years ago.” I give kudos to the team for addressing my chiding and fan outcry about this corner DC painted itself into (especially when you start doing the math on how long Bruce Wayne would have had each ward), and I give congratulations if it was an accident. Either way, this nebulous time that was is far more palatable than an actual number.

Secret identities first, powers later. This was another misstep, in my opinion, from the New 52 launch. We got all action and no heart. In BATMAN/SUPERMAN we open with Clark Kent hunting down Bruce Wayne for a story about Wayne Enterprises. Even the inner dialog of both men is surprisingly without powers, as both reflect on the lessons taught to them by their parents. The ray of light that was cast by the Kent’s and the dark pall of the Wayne’s deaths in part created these heroes; it should be the first thing that’s acknowledged when retelling their origins. The next thing that needs to be addressed is the environments that they grew up in. If one part nature, one part nurture is right, what we see and absorb as children is just as instrumental as DNA in shaping who we are. We learn about the soul-sucking nature of Gotham from Clark’s POV as he traverses the streets looking for his story.

Once the two meet, back when Bruce wore a stocking cap as much as he wore the cowl, the book shifts into sixth gear. A fight between children that Clark chooses to interrupt as Bruce sits creepily on a park bench introduces in one scene their different ideologies of self-sufficiency versus the need to protect all life. You’ll gain a much greater respect for Lex Luthor’s hatred of Superman for depriving us of our own evolution once you read Bruce’s rationale for letting the fight continue…well, at least I did.

After Bruce tells Clark to bugger off we get into the meat--excuse me, plot--of the story. It was already pretty meaty on characterization up until this point. Bruce ends up in Metropolis on the trail of someone killing Wayne Enterprises executives. I won’t spoil who the killer is; suffice to say, though, she is merely a puppet of the arc’s true big baddie. Here’s also where Bats and Supes meet for the first time in costume…well, at least I think it is. I thought the first time they met was in JUSTICE LEAGUE 1; however, all that Ecstasy I was dropping back in ‘11 could have clouded my memory.

This scene doesn’t last for long, though, since the killer was merely bait to bring Batman and Superman together so Superman could be boom-tubed to a corn field in Kansas. The person behind the booming remains a mystery, all we know is she speaks in cryptic verse and is presumably a denizen of Apokalips. The where, however, is not the cool part--it’s the when. T-shirt Superman ends up face-to-face with today’s Batman, packing a Kryptonite shield. The boys tussle until things are broken up with the appearance of Pa Kent.

BATMAN/SUPERMAN poses a lot of questions as a first issue should, but those questions also lead to a scrutiny of what has come before. In JUSTICE LEAGUE 1 it was the first time anyone saw a boom tube; likewise, as I mentioned earlier, it was supposed to be the first meeting between Bats and Supes. I mean, they both say it so it must have been true. This book exudes subtle layers of genius in art and story. Lee makes every panel worth examining in some of the most original layouts I’ve seen all year. It’s the direct opposite of the universe’s bombastic and superficial launch of yore. I just hope, though, we’re not in for a ret-con, an easy mind wipe that will make young Superman forget these events, or--the worst of all sins--not even acknowledging these continuity landmines. If you have bailed on DC, come back for this book alone. For those of us who have remained steadfast fans, do yourselves a favor and forget all that has come before to truly revel in this book’s goodness.


NOVA #5

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Ed McGuinness
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Chris Massari


After 5 issues, the MARVEL NOW series NOVA concludes its first arc and I cannot wait to see what story this leads to next. After five issues, however, we will sadly see the end of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness’s run on the book. While I’m not personally familiar with the previous NOVA titles or really even the previous Nova Richard Rider, I love what Loeb has created with the character of Sam Alexander. So far, the story of Nova began in Arizona with the origins of young Sam Alexander. His dad Jesse is a former Black Nova in retirement. Jesse would constantly tell stories of his space adventures and the Novas to his children. To Sam, these stories seemed like nothing more than fairy tales and drunken ramblings, seemingly made up by his father to entertain Sam and his little sister as children. When Sam’s father goes missing, Gamorra and Rocket Raccoon are introduced into the story, revealing to Sam that all of his father’s stories were actually true. Gamorra and R.R. give Sam his father’s old Nova helmet to use in order to find his dad. Once he puts on the Nova helmet, having no idea how to work these new abilities or how to control his flight power, Sam just kind of floats up until he crashes into the moon and meets The Watcher. The Watcher reveals to Sam that a giant space armada is heading to earth. With this new information, Sam returns to earth to tell Gamorra and R.R., who in turn train Sam in preparation for the Chitauri invasion. After some training and his knowledge of the armada’s location, Sam flies out into space to scout the impending Chitauri attack. After taking on the entire armada, with a lot of missteps and inexperience as a Nova, Sam discovers his father’s former friend Titus is the leader of the armada. After stealing the Ultimate Nullifier and escaping the Chitauri, Sam returns to Earth to find out Titus has followed him.

Issue five begins with Sam completely kicking Titus’s ass while still not knowing the limits of his own strength. Sam basically blasts Titus across town, but at first thinks he completely vaporized him. After a good amount of Titus butt kicking and Sam saving the lives of his former bullies (wouldn’t be a comic story without the hero saving the people who made his life miserable before his change), Sam uses the Ultimate Nullifier to shoot Titus and his entire armada into a giant worm hole, in turn saving the day while once again showing he has very little knowledge of what he’s doing. Sam then hands over the Ultimate Nullifier to The Watcher, feeling he’ll be the safest place to keep this dangerous weapon. Issue 5 of NOVA ends with Sam’s new conviction of finding his father and taking on his new responsibilities as a Nova.

I am extremely impressed with the NOVA series and really look forward to how the story develops. Loeb has introduced a young character with an enjoyable personality and moral responsibility without getting caught up with the annoying teenage angst common with young characters. Loeb’s writing has created real human emotions to his characters. Sam is entertaining, witty, a smart ass, and seems to fully embrace being a new Nova while still having no idea what the hell he’s doing with these incredible powers. Loeb has made an interesting character backstory with a troubled past between Sam and his father, a former Nova himself. However, even though Sam has felt some animosity towards his father for various reasons, he’s left that all behind for a new beginning, finally understanding his father. This is a huge breath of fresh air from the completely overused storywriting of a brooding emo teen who hates life, finds super human abilities, and then must discover his destiny. With Loeb’s Nova, instead it’s a troubled teen who realizes his dad is human and is allowed to make mistakes. Sam doesn’t dwell on his past, instead looking forward to making a better future. Sam’s father Jesse is also an interesting character--a man who used to have amazing powers, travelling the entire universe on adventures, but now stuck as a school janitor. Loeb portrays how a real person would deal with this huge change in lifestyle so drastic that it could truly depress an individual, creating great character dynamics and interactions between Sam and his father.

I’ve also loved McGuiness’s artwork, taking a good mix of cartoonish character style while still keeping some type of realism. McGuiness’s art creates a light-hearted atmosphere in the panels, but it doesn’t take away from the story’s serious elements. Overall, the artwork of NOVA is excellent and completely fits the character and the story itself.

Everything about NOVA has been excellent and seems to bring something missed in the comic world. NOVA displays a good mix of light-heartedness with serious tones. Sam is an entertaining and great character whom I am excited to see how he’s developed in the series. For those not aware, Sam also appears in the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN television show. While ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN is usually average with gems every here and there, Sam is solid character that I look forward to seeing used more often in the Marvel Universe.


ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #2

Writer: Various
Artist: Various
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


So we got the second issue of classic Superman tales here (i.e. red trunks). Reminds me of IDW's ROCKETEER ADVENTURES or DC's own BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE (though with color). Each issue is filled with short stories by different creative teams. It was originally designed to be digital, but since DC likes money it's in print too.

On one level, it's interesting to see what a writer can put together in 10 pages. Sometimes these stories are just fun romps or poignant tales commenting on character or subject. But more often than not they are just there—seriously, what can ya do in 10 pages? So the real draw to these anthology books is often the artists. Two issues in, and DC has yet to really get a good group of artists together. Last issue, two out of three: DAREDEVIL's Chris Samnee and SWEET TOOTH's Jeff Lemire; this issue only has one guy of note, Michael Oeming of POWERS. If DC really wants this book to survive they need to get on the ball with better names. And I'm not just talking Perez, Hitch, and Reis here. I'm talking about guys not known for their Superman work. That's why guys like Oeming and Lemire are good choices, but I'd also like to see people like Esad Ribic, Simone Bianchi, James Stokoe, Olivier Coipel, Fiona Staples, and Francesco Francavilla plus more traditional people like Walter Simonson, Art Adams, Kevin Maguire, Darwyn Cooke, Michael Golden, and Neal Adams. That's what I feel was the appeal to series like BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE and ROCKETEER ADVENTURES.

In this specific issue, there is a tale by J.M. DeMatteis and Giuseppe Camuncoli/Sal Buscema which is almost a talkback to the big MAN OF STEEL movie, as it shows a very happy, well-adjusted Superman and talks about the importance of Metropolis and its people to Superman (would Superman be Superman without them?).

Next is a story about Lois Lane vs. Clark Kent, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joelle Jones, which on the one hand shows you must always expect the unexpected in Metropolis, and on the other shows that nothing will ever change in Metropolis--or Lois.

Last is Michael Avon Oeming and Bryan JL Glass (with Oeming also drawing) going over the tried and true tale of time travel and whether or not you have the right to change history or if you even can.

All fairly interesting tales, with the big draw for me being seeing Oeming draw the Man of Steel (big shock, considering what I just wrote).

Lastly, a word about Superman's underpants (which, let's face it, if they are on the outside, with no 'dick hole', they aren't underpants just like a U.F.O. isn't an alien spacecraft, because if it was it wouldn't be unidentified anymore), so why is DC doing this? With the big push to get Superman into a onesie (New 52, MAN OF STEEL), and have them constantly remind us that this is your Dad's DCU, why go back to it with ADENTURES OF SUPERMAN? Heck, even THE SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES (which was oh so not(!) in continuity) had Superman sporting the onesie. Wasn't there some Superman cover drawn by Neal Adams of him busting out of his red trunks with the title “Undies No More”??? Well, I guess you can change anything you want, but at the end of the day people still want what Dad had.

So ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN is a good buy with the right talent working on it; without, it's just oh so average.


UNWRITTEN #50

Writers: Mike Carey & Bill Willingham
Artists: Peter Gross & Mark Buckingham
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Don’t call this is a crossover; it’s not. Even with the infusion of FABLES, at most I would say this is a spillover. But even that is too simple a description for the meta-highbrow antics of literal literature that is UNWRITTEN #50.

Here’s a real quick recap of the story thus far, which will surely obfuscate and obliterate all the wonderful layers Carey has added to this title over the years. Tis the life of a reviewer and the danger of Cliff’s Notes, but alas the PR must go on. Basically, UNWRITTEN is the story of Tom Taylor, a man who for years thought he was just the template for his father’s global best-selling book about a boy wizard. When UNWRITTEN started, I thought Carey was simply going to indict celebrity, as Tom’s whole life consisted of con appearances raping the legacy of his father for every penny it was worth. Despite being wicked smart, he never truly established his own identity. I should have known better, because quite quickly Tom Taylor’s Hermione, Lizzie Hexam, appears to remind Tom that those stories were real and Tom is in fact a real wizard, even if he can’t remember. OK, I thought, nice twist--but can this sustain a whole series? That’s when Carey introduced layer number three, the layer that makes stories real and started the race to save or thwart the literal embodiment of them, a creature named Leviathan. There’s of course more, much more to the UNWRITTEN tale, but this is the simple enough exploration to at least read this issue.

Now, why won’t I call this a crossover? Because this issue is really more of an Elseworlds for fans of FABLES. Also, I can’t remember a crossover where two creators so lovingly and expertly tackled each other’s titles in the same book. Tommy joins the FABLES universe smack dab in the middle of the Mister Dark arc. We all remember that time when desperation permeated all things FABLES and any last ditch efforts were tried. After a brief conjuration by the saltiest witches ever to grace the page, Tommy appears confused and bewildered. Geppetto, Ozma and Totenkinder, not being the warmest welcoming committee, give Tommy a bit of a baptism of fire getting him up to speed on their exiled situation mere moments before Dark’s legions mount another assault. Meanwhile, back in occupied Fabletown, Dark holds court with his “wife” by his side, the very Morticia Addams-looking Snow White. I don’t remember this moment from FABLES, nor do I remember Snow and thekids sadistically tormenting their husband and father Bigby with sadistic glee. There’s been a change to the fabric to reality; I don’t quite understand it all yet, nor do I think I’m supposed to. The book ends with the FABLES magicians transforming Tommy into his book counterpart and enlisting the aid of his stalwart companions. For them, this is just another adventure; for me the fate of two of my most cherished books hangs in the balance. Oh, we also get to see the possible resurrection of an old friend who would come blow his horn in times of trouble.

As for art, both Gross and Buckingham changed their styles to meld with one another. Gross had a little more fun with his often austere lines, and Buckingham tempered his propensity towards lushness (however, he did stick in a bit of his patented margin art). The result was a book where you could notice something happened, there was a switch, but it wasn’t jarring in the least.

This is the first time in recent memory where the Vertigo universe has had this kind of cohesion, and I have to say I’m a fan. I would never ask for shared continuity in the Vertigo universe, since its lifeblood is unfettered storytelling. However, UNWRITTEN 50 just makes sense. Tommy is forever saving stories, and lord knows the FABLES crew could have used some help during the Mister Dark days. I will say it offers a smidge of continuity confusion, but I think that’s simply because neither writer has played all of their cards just yet.

I honestly thought we were reaching the end with UNWRITTEN. Tommy learned who he was, learned the true impetus and nature of stories, and all of the bad guys appeared to have been beaten. With this FABLES infusion, though, we see yet another layer in the mind of Carey and the possibility for UNWRITTEN to written for years to come.


@$$IE-LEAKS: PART TWO
By Stones Throw

In our last installment, the most wanted man in the world, Julian Assange, knocked at the door of our writer’s apartment in Beijing and presented him witch a cachet of e-mails ‘leaked’ from the desks of Joe Quesada, Alan Moore and Dan Didio, which threatened to rock the comic book world to its foundations. Our writer immediately sent them to AICN. It is now a week later. Read on…

“Whaddya think about those then, ya bloody pom?” my Aussie interlocutor said as I finished reading through the sheaf of papers, open-mouthed. “There’s a dingo to float yer barbie and no mistake!”

“It’s incredible,” I replied, stammering. “But how – ”

There was suddenly a second knock at the door. Julian leapt beneath the sofa while I went to open it. I was astonished to see Edward Snowden, the second most wanted man in the world, stood outside.

“Sshh!” he said, and pushed in past me. “Not so loud. Anyone could be listening.”

“Who do you mean?” I said. “And how did you – wait, don’t sit there!”

Mr. Assange gave a loud howl as his fellow outlaw sat down, crushing him. Mr. Snowden leapt up.

“Oh, my God!” he said. “They’re already here. MI6. GCHQ. The CIA. The FBI. SHIELD. SMERSH. The Avengers. THE MATRIX RELOADED. They know everything!”

“Calm down, ya ponce,” said Julian, dusting himself off. “It’s me.”

“Julian,” said Mr. Snowden, visibly relieved. “I should have known.”

“Would one of you care to explain what in the world is going on?” I said. “I mean, you, Julian, turn up out of the blue at my flat with a bunch of papers explaining why the last few years in comics have sucked so much. No sooner do I take that in then you, Mr. Snowden, arrive.”

“There’s no time. We have to be quick,” said Mr. Snowden “Do any of you know pig Latin?”

“Oh-nay,” said Julian.

“Sorry,” I said.

“Well, we’ll have to risk it. I’ll speak in English. You did a stupid thing in posting those e-mails on AICN. There are some very powerful interests that want comic books to be as bad as they can be. You’re entering a world of pai—”

He said no more. He froze up and dropped to the ground like a rock. So did Julian. There was now a pounding at the door.

“You! The man who calls yourself Stones Throw! Open up!”

To be continued…



Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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