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Bought/Thought 12/12/07


Shield of the True North
Jul 26, 2006
Reaction score
Booster Gold #5

In which Booster finds out that he can’t change everything, and, for the first time in this series, I take serious issue with an aspect of the plot. This issue is, as everyone knows, set during The Killing Joke, where Booster, on Rip’s orders, attempts to save Barbara from being shot by the J-man. He fails, and actually gets his ass handed to him by the Joker and his minions. But the point, apparently, was that Barbara’s shooting, like Ted’s death, is "solid time" that cannot be changed, regardless of what happens. Erm, yeah, Geoff and Jeff, that’s really, really stupid. "Solid time" is nonsense in the DCU, where time has frequently been shown as more fragile than tissue paper. Regardless, it seems Rip is wrong, because Blue Beetle I, III, and a new Future Beetle (who looks rather like a blue Erik the Red) show up and tell them that the future depends on saving Ted. I didn’t like this issue as much as the other four, largely because of issues with the plot, and it’s not a particularly inspired revisiting of TKJ. Jurgens’ art is lovely, and the opening pages he draws with Batgirl, Batman, and Commissioner Gordon are especially nice.

Fables #68

Another strong issue of the "Good Prince" arc. I have a hard time reviewing this series, so I’m just going to leave it at that.

Gargoyles #7

The seventh issue of Slave Labour Graphics’ continuation of the best damn animated series ever continues, and, regardless of the rather cheap production values, I’m thrilled to be getting any continuation of the show at all. Coincidentally, I spent much of yesterday YouTubing my way through several Season Two episodes that aren’t on DVD, including the second appearance of King Arthur, which I’d never seen before; and, wouldn’t you know it, he turns up here. Great sense of timing. Elsewhere, Elisa has a freakish niece on the way, as Talon and "Maggie the Cat" are having a first-ever mutate baby; Goliath and Elisa are a firmly a couple; and Macbeth gets some more play, which I enjoy, because he was always one of the show’s more complex characters in terms of his motivations (very Magneto-ish in a lot of ways). Although the cover has nothing to do with what happens in the issue, for some reason.

Green Arrow/Black Canary #3

The cover has "When Amazons Attacked!" on it, which automatically makes me unfavourable to the contents within. As to the contents themselves, it’s got all the strengths and all the weaknesses of a Winick book. On the strengths side, his dialogue is occasionally quite effective, and I do feel that he gets several of the characters. On the weaknesses side, the dialogue is often woefully inappropriate, other characters just don’t work, and the climactic escape from Themyscira is really, really anticlimactic; Granny Goodness’ explanation (although they don’t find out its Granny) is kind of half-sensible, but half Countdown, if you know what I mean. The art remains quite nice (although the Fourth Worlders rendered in such a clean style seems kind of weird to me, for whatever reason). After following the initial arc, I won’t be going any further with this book. Oh, and Connor dies.

Green Lantern #25
The "Sinestro Corps War" comes to its super-sized end in this issue, featuring a massive brawl on Earth between the Green Lanterns/Earth heroes and the Sinestro Corps. Going into this, we knew that Superman-Prime would end up Multiverse-hopping, somehow far more powerful than before, and that something "bizarre" happens to the Anti-Monitor; and, obviously, Earth doesn’t get destroyed. All in all, I’d say this was a pretty strong finish to the story, and I was rather surprised in how big a victory Johns gave the good guys; sure, there’s the looming "Blackest Night" (explained here in some detail), but the Lanterns destroy Warworld and the Main Power Battery of the Sinestro Corps, blow up the Anti-Monitor (cast into space by Superman-Prime) and Cyborg-Superman (who, despite his hopes, is recovered and revived by the Manhunters), and, in a move that I really wasn’t expecting, capture Sinestro, leaving his Corps completely leaderless. It’s as good a showing as our heroes have had in a while. Sinestro, though, reveals that part of his plan was to force the Guardians to allow the use of lethal force, since now the universe will fear the Lanterns and make them better police. As said earlier, we also get an explanation of the "Blackest Night", which includes eight different Corpses using different colours, the "black" being the Black Lanterns, who are: DC Zombies! Yes, that’s right, they raise the dead. I’m...not sure about that, but I’ll keep an open mind.

Wonder Woman #15

Now that’s more like it: only three-and-a-half pages of Diana Prince, Nemesis unconscious the entire time, and plenty of mythology! Anyway, last issue left off with powerless Diana confronted by Captain Nazi, and an army of Captain Nazis invading Themyscira, inhabited by only Hippolyta and four newly-revealed Amazons. In this issue, Diana quickly transforms into her natural state, kicks Captain Nazi’s ass, and then sets about finding a way onto Themyscira, which the Gods (actually Granny) have barred her from entering. This involves going around to the various other Pantheons and begging for assistance, but, in succession, Odin, Raijin (Japanese God of Thunder), Bast, and Billy Batson (drawn looking like Shazam now) turn her down, not willing to commit an act of war against the Greek Pantheon. Finally, we take a journey into the really obscure (so much so that he’s only got a single relevant hit on Google), when the Polynesian skyfather Kane Miohai* agrees to help, in exchange for Diana pledging herself his eternal servant and champion, and supplies her with his magic shell boat (which is an actual feature of the mythology) to take her there; but first, she has to go get her gorilla buddies to help (I love the gorillas). And we get some backstory on the Circle: they’re Hippolyta’s Praetorian Guard, apparently fanatically anti-child; their story is quite interesting, actually, as we get Simone’s take on how a sterile culture would be affected by that. Like I said, this is a really great issue. I’m especially interested to see where this new god situation goes. One minor complaint would be that the army of Captain Nazis don’t really seem all that powerful; Hippolyta kills a bunch of them without breaking a sweat.


X-Factor #26

What is amazingly my only Marvel title of a fairly busy week; unusual, since I consider myself more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan. Anyway, while "Sinestro Corps" concludes, "Messiah Complex" continues to chug along: X-Force is on Cable’s trail, Cable himself comes under attack from the Reavers, Jamie and Layla get captured in the future, Predator X eats another of the 198 (before Siryn can save him) (they’re really burning through them in this crossover; there’d better be some improvement to mutants’ situation at the end of the tunnel, or else they’re really screwed), and Cyclops tells Professor X to leave the Mansion because Professor X thinks sending X-Force to kill Cable is a severe overreaction, and Cyclops is The Decider whose orders may not be questioned in this crucial time. This was a bit of a transition issue, although still quite enjoyable. David throws in some interesting information about Layla, since it’s revealed that she’s only intermittently considered a mutant by the future guys’ scanners; hmm. Also from the future, it seems that a mutant’s actions are responsible for humanity taking such drastic countermeasures (interning everybody); the question is who, obviously, with the baby being the clear choice. Can’t wait for next issue, even if it is being drawn by Ramos.
Said it in the DC forums and I'll say it here: Sinestro War was the best damn crossover I've read in a long time. I'll throw in that Messiah Complex is also damn awesome. It's about time I got back into the X-men with some excitement. Now FIX SPIDER-MAN.
But according to Joey Q and some, that's exactly what they're doing.
Oh, and if there was any question about how INSANE the Joker is, The new issue of Salvation Run pretty much handles that.

He beats Psimon to death with a rock to the brain!
All while doing a monologue. Damn, I love the Joker.
The Boys #13 Had its funny moments... We now know why he's called the Love Sausage... And he did some major ass kicking. The art changed, not thrilled with it.

Simon Dark #3 Sort of slow this week. Nothing really happened, although the character is progressing... Wonder if he's done killing?

Ghost Rider #18 Some funny stuff, some confusing stuff... Did they just change his origin? He's a demon of heaven?

Punisher War Journal #14 It's pretty cool seeing all those characters in one comic, Frank is a bit more of a slapstick **** then I like him to be, but I suppose there is MAX to level that out. Its a fun story, can't wait to see how it ends up.
Said it in the DC forums and I'll say it here: Sinestro War was the best damn crossover I've read in a long time. I'll throw in that Messiah Complex is also damn awesome. It's about time I got back into the X-men with some excitement. Now FIX SPIDER-MAN.

100% agree with you on GL,can't say the same thing about MC since I wouldn't buy an X-book if I was paid too,unless it's a sweet Wolvie done in one.


Green Lantern #25
PWJ #14
Ultimates Vol.2 HC

Thoughts later,finals to study for.
Punisher War Journal- PICK OF THE WEEK! Outside of a couple hiccups, I'm really digging this series. It's kind of off the wall, but that's the fun of it. Last month, I was totally singing Cory Walker's praises, and really sad to see him only do an issue. However, Scott Wegener TOTALLY picked up the ball and ran with it this issue, and did a fantastic job of it. His style is similar to Walker's, but not too similar. I like it. In fact, since Walker's got a regular gig, why not give Wegener one with this book? Please, Marvel? 9/10

New Avengers- Bendis really nails Spider-Man's humor. I loved his reaction to Wolverine laughing. Mostly fighting, but this was a good issue. 9/10

Messiah Complex parts 6 and 7- Not as great as the rest, but still good. I enjoyed part 6 more than 7, but Eaton's a MUCH stronger artist than Tan. 8/10

Avengers: The Initiative Annual- Not bad. It offered up some nice background on the various characters, which I liked. The art's a bit spotty, though. The MVP story looked kinda crappy, if you ask me. Loved the ending, though. 8/10

Spider-Girl- I liked how this issue brought in pretty much every major player in the MC-2 for the anniversary. It's a shame the ''man in the shadows" was never revealed, though, because it seemed pretty obvious who it was. Here's to another 10 years! 8/10

Ultimates 3- Did this issue rape a kid? The reactions I'm seeing are ridiculous! It's not fantastic, but an interesting set up. The coloring takes away from MAD's art, which is a little sad. It's just too dark. Otherwise, I kinda dug it. 7/10

WWH:Aftersmash- Not too bad. It woulda been nice to see JR do this issue since it's essentially an epilogue. The cost was worth the Giarusso strip alone. 7/10

New Warriors- This book's gotta get going, or I'm gonna get going. It's not terrible, but the pacing is very slow for what should be an action heavy title. I found it surprising that Tony's war-profiteering from Frontline came into play, as that seems to be an all but forgotten thread. This book has one more arc to impress, otherwise, I'm out. 5/10
Green Lantern #25
Well, it's colorful.


A decent ending to an event that has sucked ass more often than it hasn't. At this point, all we really needed was big explosions the round things up.

I've always supported Johns' notion of the emotional spectrum. I thought it was clever and made good use of the GL canon and cosmology. Interesting that the allusion is that the Red and Orange Lanterns will have someone prominent at the fore, almost like they're supposed to be people we've already met before.

And then we come to Kyle. I love how oblivious writers can be sometimes when they're outright mocking themselves. Sinestro talks down to Kyle by calling him Hal's sidekick, and guess what? It's completely true here. No sarcasm, no entendre about it: Kyle here is a sidekick. Johns has pretty singlehandedly made Kyle a little btch. Just by the merit of how he's presented here: he follows Hal around, he takes the passive role in the events, he's the one asking "Huh what?" while Hal is the one who makes the definitive answers, he gets ridiculously marginalized in the pinup-shots (Hal is the one flying lead and center while Kyle is barely in the background). Johns tries to play it off like the two are equals in the endeavor, but don't be fooled; this entire event, from beginning to end, was basically one giant declaration from Johns regarding how he really feels about the two. Hal is the one real best person of everything and Kyle is just the leftover.

Really, I'd be more over it if Johns wasn't intent on shoving it in our faces every single chance he gets.

But whatever. For what it's worth, this really was a very epic and exciting event that did manage to come together very well, and some characters even managed not to be butchered in it. I am, in spite of myself, looking forward to "Blackest Night."

Black hands...Black Hand. Why does that seem familiar? Oh yeah, he was that GL villain. Coincidence? Probably not.

(7 out of 10)
(4.9 out of 10 for the whole arc)

Tales of the Green Lantern Corps: Ion

Remember how I mentioned writers mocking themselves? Well, here is another writer mocking himself. To Marz's credit, this is not his own fault; it's a long list of editorial nonsense and stories that plainly just weren't thought out very well.

In the span of the first three pages, Marz basically says "Hey, you know that Ion book I wrote a while back? Well, everything in there was a pointless filthy lie and the whole adventure was for nothing. Yeah, sorry! Moving on."

It's really too bad, 'cause that story was really good, and the rest of this story is decent enough. Kyle teaches BumRush to unclench and together they tie up some loose ends. Uh...kinda literally. As usual, Marz makes the best he can out of a shtty situation forced on him and the characters. PluggedCanal is still a giant ass who doesn't deserve sht and Kyle still got completely gypped out of his sht, but at least we can try to pretend things ended up for the best. Right?...Right?

(7.3 out of 10)

Nova #9
More Russian space dogs? More Russian space dogs. And all was good. Cosmo? Best new(?) character ever.

I like the setup and resolution of this issue, as well; the idea of using the Phalanx infection as a tool was pretty cool, and it inforces the fact that the infection is not just going to be some forgotten plot element vaguely in place to limit the protagonist's power; nope, it's going to be a living, breathing aspect of the story.

The ending scenes took me a bit by surprise. We all thought that Nova was just going to splinter off away from Annihilation after the events of #7, and yet...with his discovery of the Technarcy, could it be that this series is yet going to play a bigger role in Annihilation than it would have had us think?

(9.4 out of 10)

Booster Gold #5
This is just...this is so good. It's so freaking good.

I hear people are annoyed at the whole "solidified time" explanation given here, but I really like it. It's fitting to the scope of this series and it's bittersweet in all the right ways. Katz handles poignant as well as he handles hilarity, making this consistently one of the best DC books in existence, if not the very best.

On the other hand, I hope Jurgens never draws an unmasked Jaime Reyes again 'cause godDAMN is that one oldass teenager.

(9.2 out of 10)

New Avengers #37

I don't even know what to think. It's not...bad in the traditional horrible Bendis way, but...it's sort of just bad. It's kind of pathetic, really. This is his way of writing a big action issue for these people? Frame after frame after frame after frame of nothing but just action, except that it's not action, it's just random characters slopped onto the page. I'm not even blaming Yu for this even though I think I should; Bendis should have given much better direction for the action than "and then another frame where everyone is fighting." So much more could have been done. This is just...sort of pathetic.

(4 out of 10)

Wonder Woman #15
I guess this cinches it; Simone is writing an awesome run. There were doubts, and fears, but this issue erases them all. The action, the drama, the mythology, the depth, and the skill that this story has become in merely two issues is unreal.

That moment of the tiara and bracelets shining through the darkness is probably the single best use of the transformation in the entirety of WW canon, pre- and post-Crisis. And Simone depiction of the lasso's power is...fitting and incredible, yet jaw-droppingly unconventional. I...think I approve, but all the same I'm almost astounded that she took it so far. This isn't your Superfriends version of the Lasso of Truth. Of course, never enough credit can be given to the Dodsons for the amazing artwork here which complete sells it.

And Hippolyta. In something like two pages, Simone saves her from the inept fckery of Amazons Attack. This is how you write a warrior queen in action. This is how you present the Amazons. Seriously, most of the Amazon perspective here is coming from a decidedly evil Amazon, and yet it's still miles upon light-years more dignified and empathetic than the inept fckery -- did I mention inept fckery yet? -- of Amazons Attack.

Also props for remembering Hermes' sandals from way back when! Huge props!

(9.7 out of 10)

Wonder Girl #4
I looked up "Aristides Demetrios" on Google and I got was some lousy sculptor.

Hmph. I know some might be really glad that Arrowette is kinda back now, but I'm not. She had her resolution. She had a really good, really in-character reason for her resolution and one that she was completely comfortable with. And now she's just back in some sidequest as a sidekick to Cassie? Well, rah rah yay for BFFs I guess, but still.

I don't know how the art is getting worse by each issue, yet somehow it's happening. Her armor is still awesome and the plot is still decent enough, but damn the art. Sometimes it's fine, and then other time it punches you straight in the face.

(6.8 out of 10)

Black Adam #6
If I had picks of the week, this would be my pick of the week.

Every moment of this book drips badass in the best way. And not the dumbass kind of badass like ohIdunnoMarkMillerorsomething, but the bestass kind of badass. Adam's characterization is depicted so flawlessly, his dialogue the stuff of classics.

"Just say the word and I'll say mine, and we can send all these good people into the arms of their waiting gods."

*shiver* So badass. There's no ultrabloody violence here, no giant action piece like prior issues...and yet, there was. His conversation with Atom Smasher was basically in itself a giant action scene. And it takes untold skill for a writer to pull that off. If this is the writer who's going to be taking Kyle Rayner's reigns for a while, then at least I can sleep easy knowing that not everything's going to go badly for him.

(10 out of 10)

Green Arrow and Black Canary #3
Looking back, I can't really pinpoint the one precise moment when Judd Winick became a hack. As with most things, it was really a gradual process that slowly took over the grand design, each new flaw destroying any chance of turning back and proving itself incapable of recovery no matter how hard one tries.

Sort of like AIDS, if you will.

Don't get me wrong; I don't believe for a tiny instant that Connor is actually dead. That's not the issue at hand here. The hack move is the mere hype of death. By now, it's the most overdone, lazy, cheap, trite kind of emotional bullsht for a writer to pull, because it works. It gets people talking, it gets people pissed, and it's sure to do so by the mere merit of being what it is. It's so...Bendis.

And the best part of this? The fact that Winick JUST DID THIS. "This" was the entire premise of this series! I can't even imagine the kind of mindset that would take him from "hay let's tease Ollie's death" one month and then several months later go "hay let's tease Connor's death." It's so...it's so hack. There's no other way to say it.

To add insult to injury, this isn't even the first time this story has happened. Not that long ago, Kevin Smith wrote this exact story. So on top of being cheap and unoriginal to himself, Winick is also being cheap and unoriginal and unoriginal.

No thanks. I'm completely done with this series, in spite of it containing awesome art and four or five of my favorite characters.

(3 out of 10)

Fallen Angel #22
Oh good, it seems like things are finally starting to happen again. It's kind of...happening again in a roundabout way, but at least it's happening. I actually like the comic book style gimmick they got going on here; it was a good gimmick, telling the boy's story through a comic book and yet using all the cursin'-like-a-sailor style that this book has more or less perfected.

(8.3 out of 10)
A person really loses credibility when they have more negative reciews than positive. Especially when its the same book every month. Like paying someone to punch you in the face, is the term I think I heard.

Fables - And yet again Fly proves to be a bad ass.

New Avengers - Plodding along at a decent clip. Definitly this is more the Hood than Avengers right now. Lovin' it.

Booster Gold & Green Lantern - Double dose of Johns goodness this week. One issue of GL not only pays off the Sinestro Corps war but sets us up for the books next two years. ROY G BIV is a powerful name.
I just wanted to pop in here and make a couple comments.

- WTF was Bendis doing when he wrote this month's NA? Whole pages are filled with one word dialogue balloons of nonsense.


Absolutely ******ed. The only redeeming factor to the book is that the heroes actually won a battle against real supervillians. Too bad it was just painful to read.

- Scott Wegener is going to be a major star. He drew this week's PWJ #14. It's his first work for either of the Big Two. If you saw it and liked it, then go pick up Atomic Robo from Red 5 Comics. It's awesome.
I just wanted to pop in here and make a couple comments.

- WTF was Bendis doing when he wrote this month's NA? Whole pages are filled with one word dialogue balloons of nonsense.


Absolutely ******ed. The only redeeming factor to the book is that the heroes actually won a battle against real supervillians. Too bad it was just painful to read.

Pretty much how EVERY Bendis book reads to me. :cmad:
Usually Bendis' dialogue is at least fleshed out and cohesive. This read like it was written by a 10 year old.
WOLVERINE - I am ready for this storyline to be over.

NEW AVENGERS - did some random JLA pair write this issue? Convoluted, you can't tell who is doing what to who. NA has been my favorite book for a while now. This storyline has bummed me out a bit.

MESSIAH COMPLEX/X-FORCE - I agree it wasn't the strongest in the series but enjoying the series totally. Except for Warpath being Wolverine Lite.
Warpath was actually the best part in this week's X-Factor. :up:
- Scott Wegener is going to be a major star. He drew this week's PWJ #14. It's his first work for either of the Big Two. If you saw it and liked it, then go pick up Atomic Robo from Red 5 Comics. It's awesome.

He NEEDS to be the book's regular artist. He kicked ass this month.
He might well be, since Olivetti's moving over to Cable next month or February or whenever.
As long as he still has time to crank out some Atomic Robo, I'll be happy.
Booster Gold #5

In which Booster finds out that he can’t change everything, and, for the first time in this series, I take serious issue with an aspect of the plot. This issue is, as everyone knows, set during The Killing Joke, where Booster, on Rip’s orders, attempts to save Barbara from being shot by the J-man. He fails, and actually gets his ass handed to him by the Joker and his minions. But the point, apparently, was that Barbara’s shooting, like Ted’s death, is "solid time" that cannot be changed, regardless of what happens. Erm, yeah, Geoff and Jeff, that’s really, really stupid. "Solid time" is nonsense in the DCU, where time has frequently been shown as more fragile than tissue paper. Regardless, it seems Rip is wrong, because Blue Beetle I, III, and a new Future Beetle (who looks rather like a blue Erik the Red) show up and tell them that the future depends on saving Ted. I didn’t like this issue as much as the other four, largely because of issues with the plot, and it’s not a particularly inspired revisiting of TKJ. Jurgens’ art is lovely, and the opening pages he draws with Batgirl, Batman, and Commissioner Gordon are especially nice.

I think that was Kingdom Come Ted Kord actually
I thought it was a future Jaime, myself. We probably won't know until next issue.
New Avengers #37 goes to show that Bendis isn't good at delivering epic action scenes.


Green Lantern #25 - I needed an aspirin after reading this,so bright and colorful,but oh so good.What excites me more than this issue is the fact that Johns is only getting started with this book.It's been a hell of a run so far in what has been tasty and epic superhero comics.Looking forward to Alpha Lanterns,Secret Origin and Rage of the Red Lanterns.

Punisher War Journal #14 - Loving the over the top factor of this book.Punisher VS a crapload of vicious villains on a sinking ship,how awesome is that?As much as I enjoyed the serious tone of this book around #5 to 10,I'm liking this current over the top/action packed approach.
Yeah, it seems like #12 is where Fraction finally found his groove. :up:
Of course GL 25 was my pick of the week. I like how the green lanterns are getting their respect. Seeing Kilowag tell a rookie GL to "leave them to allan scott and the earthmen" (which ironically included superman, wonder woman, power girl, supergirl, martian manhunter etc) reminded me of those movies where the Feds leave the clean up to the local cops bc they're too big to handle the mess. I'm really digging the concept of mutli corps. I'm guessing
cyborg superman:red corps and prime will be orange
A day late but not a dollar short. Larger than average week but actually a pretty good one; even in the Bendis Zone.

Cosmo says full spoilers ahead, dah?

Dread's BOUGHT/THOUGHT for 12/12/07:

Another solidly written and drawn superhero adventure from Johns, Katz, Jurgens & Rapmund, even if it teases us with importance that isn't quite there. The issue allows Jurgens to homage the classic one-shot tale, THE KILLING JOKE, which has become permanent DC lore more because of the fact that Alan Moore wrote it more than the quality of the work itself; in a WIZARD interview, Moore claimed to hardly be impressed with it in hindsight. Personally, while it is a good story, it does get overrated, and I especially hate the ending scene; it is hokey at best. And this issue provides us with a dilemma for DC. I never read anything about the second Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, but what I do know is her character was effectively assassinated. Years of build-up was rendered moot within less than one, and there are no signs of getting better. Considering DC's newfound love for Pre-Crisis continuity, a continuity that pre-dates many in their audience (you'd have to be at least 26-29 years old to even REMOTELY recall Pre-Crisis DC with much detail, and I am sure that is a chunk of DC's readership), one can understand why the powers-that-be would decide that the Cain Batgirl needed to be "taken down a peg" or "reimagined" or retooled. She isn't Barbara Gordon. If DC loves the Silver Age, than cliche dictates they'll fix up Barb and get her back in bat-ears, pronto. The only problem, however, is because as Oracle she is a prime character in BIRDS OF PREY, which has become a stable franchise unto itself. Much as Professor Xavier can never leave the X-Men, she can never leave there. THAT is the real reason why Booster can't save her here, not because of the cosmic importance of her being crippled by Joker, and that real world fact serves as an unfortunate distraction to the story. How many other of DC's "past acts" have been retconned or rehashed or CRISIS'ed away or whatnot, but not this one? When comics are forced to come up with "canon" explanations for real world excuses, they rarely prevail. That isn't to say the issue is bad, no sir. Johns & Katz as usual write some very good dialogue. This issue isn't as funny as some of the last ones, but it isn't meant to be. Booster Gold has tired of serving as Rip Hunter's lackey and like most people, sees time travel as a way to "currect" tragic injustices, like the death of his buddy Ted or, in this case, Barbara Gordon being crippled by the Joker. His frustration at being unable to save her, his horror at having to witness the action many times, and so on is portrayed very well and very effectively; another example of Booster being an effectively compelling hero. However, seeing Joker overpower a decently powered Booster so easily many times just seemed....awkward. Like in the first season JL episode "INJUSTICE FOR ALL" when Joker can effectively stun Wonder Woman with an exploding doll, or literally backhand a charging Flash against a statue. I know Joker's a cool and resourceful villian, but shouldn't Booster be tougher than this? Imagine Green Goblin disabling War Machine so easily. The issue, however, reveals the real villains behind "Rex Hunter": Ultra-Humanite, Degaton, and what appears to be Despero as he appeared in the past, before he juiced up and became "lavender psychic Hulk". As in, before Despero was actually cool. In any case, the issue ends with Blue Beetles from the past, present, and future asking Booster Gold to aid them, while Hunter claims that Ted's death, like Barb's crippling, serve a time-space purpose and can't be undone. It is good seeing Booster Gold stand up for himself, and as always the art is classic, ironic, and wonderful to look at, without being burried in modern flash; only substance. It is nice seeing Booster Gold play with DC lore, it is just a shame that reality can bar how one sees an issue. It still is one of DC's best right now, though.

ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN #4: Another solid Image launch by Kirkman, who seems to get right here many things he seems to struggle to do in ULTIMATE X-MEN. In fact the only bad thing is the schedule; this is a bi-monthly that has been late on occasion at that, which means it runs of the risk of being forgotten. To give credit, not only does artist and co-creator Jason Howard pencil, but he inks and colors as well, which may explain some of it. Plus, Kirkman DOES write about 4-5 other titles. At least Kirkman confirms Wolfy will make an appearance in INVINCIBLE #48, so we'll get a little extra fur this month. Despite that, this is another solid installment of the horror/superhero franchise, one that is far more enjoyable than GHOST RIDER seems to be right now. Having been booted as CEO of his corporation and lost his mansion, Gary decides to move his family into his "Wolf Den" headquarters, which means having to reveal to his daughter Chloe that he is a werewolf, which naturally disturbs her at first. The rest is a continuation from last month; more angry werewolves target Wolf-Man because he is protecting Zechariah, who they desperately want to kill. The leader of the pack, Jacobson, reveals it is because Zechariah murdered his daughter for blood, which is a fairly legitmate reason. This issue shows that Kirkman really is a master of twists and turns when he wants to be; with his love and homage of classic superhero genre, sometimes it makes him seem simplier than he is. Wolfy seems to decapitate Zech, only for it to have been a ruse, only for Zech to reveal some of his darker side at the end of the issue after all. Meanwhile, Sergeant Superior's comrades have figured out that Wolf-Man murdered him. Of course, there is more to it as it seems, and it ties into Zechariah nicely. The issue does show the sort of sordid, strange world of supernatural creatures, where it seems none of them are "innocent". Gary seems to stand by Zechariah out of loyalty, but I wonder just how far Zech will push their alliance. Having mentors turn out to be antagonists has been a Kirkman staple; he did it in INVINCIBLE, and in CAPES, and likely other books. It is a fiction cliche, I guess. Vampires have their bloodlust, whereas werewolf tribes seem to worship their own "lunar rages" without any care as to who they kill when berserk. Or at least as Zech claims. If he is keeping secrets in the closet, he may also be hiding werewolf knowledge from Gary, especially if they are his enemies. Naturally an "elder brood" is something important, and it seems some werewolves give birth to others, and others are created via being bitten. Howard's art is fitting for the series and despite the slow shipping of issues I couldn't imagine interiors without him. Then again, Cory Walker left INVINCIBLE after 7 issues and Ottley has arguably been MUCH stronger on the title, so who knows? In the letters page, the former editor of BLADE chews Kirkman out, which was amusing. I see this as a good marriage of horror and superhero stuff, and with the elements of both.

FANTASTIC FOUR #552: Give McDuffie credit for the last issue, he really had everyone going with that cliffhanger. He even maintains it for the first few pages of this issue. Then, however, it is revealed that Reed had a very good reason for blasting away "Future Namor & T'Challa" (they were really robots who were generators for Future Doom's forcefield technology) and then the problem emerges. In a way it is similar to what I have seen people say about his JLA issues; they're good at the fundamentals, but empty on the "oomph", and have a "been there, done that, got the T-shirt" quality to it. In a way I guess I could say the same for FF. The art from Pelletier is naturally great. McDuffie gets the characters right and their adventures aren't flawed by giant means. But once whatever hook or whatever is resolved, it starts to feel a bit formulaic. Without the "is Reed really evil?" thing, it simply is another "FF meet people from an alternate future reality", which has happened quite often (Hyperstorm, anyone?). It also doesn't help that the emotional battle between Thing and Future Doom seemed WAY TOO SIMILAR to their throwdown from the first FANTASTIC FOUR film, at times shot for shot. I don't know if that was a flaw of McDuffie or Pelletier, and while it, too, wasn't anything bad, it still took some away from the issue. But it is good seeing the Four rise to defend themselves, and Future Doom does look kind of cool. Then the Future Four show up, and I have to say, Sue aged VERY well. She's the Heather Locklear of heroines, apparently. Not a wrinkle, a gray hair, or an extra pound. And Thing looks interesting. Anyway, this is a simple, fun, entertaining story, and I enjoy every issue for what it is. But it still can't shake that feeling of being generic.The only problem, though, is if fans complain too much about books like this, then the editors go, "See, THIS is why we do shocking things, THIS is why we retcon stuff, or make events, or hire controversial writers to do controversial stories; the moment things get a bit less extreme, y'all whine." In a way it feels like a Catch-22. I for one, while I note the sense of "deje vu'" with some of McDuffie's stories here, I do find them entertaining, and a chance for the title to breath after CW. I guess the moral will be that Reed can't or shouldn't try to "fix everything". And at least McDuffie can write adventures that are 3-4 issues long instead of "6 or bust".

GHOST RIDER #18: The second-to-last issue of Way's storyline and run here on GHOST RIDER, and lordie, if he was criticized before, he's gonna get some extra now. His biggest problem on GHOST RIDER was his retcons, namely that Lucifer was back at being GR's creator. The Handbooks attempted to fix this by going, "Mephisto, Lucifer, Marduk Kurios, etc. sometimes merge into a Gestalt demonic form, so they all could have been involved in making Ghost Rider", and isn't it special that the Handbook crew are there to make sense of writer screw-ups from the past and present. Unlike his last retcon, though, Way at least acknowledges this one exists and tries like mad to shove that round peg into the square hole. That is, he claims that the Spirit of Vengeance is actually an angel. Which, really, makes no sense at all, especially if you recall ANYTHING about Zarathos that has been stated a decade or longer ago. And it is a shame, because aside for this massive flaw, Way gets the rest right. He has decent action scenes, some amusing dark humor, and some good lines. The art by Saltares (or Tex) is usually great. But Way keeps making the retcon mistake and that seems to always keep his title in the "average at best" category. I'd understand it if the movie was along these lines, but even the FILM was more accurate, and it was hardly a cinematic masterpiece. I just see no need to further complicate the already cloggy, cluttered, and conveluted backstory of the Ghost Rider, and I fear for whatever Wikipedia writer or Handbook edittor who has to try to make sense of all this ****. I just hope that maybe this was one of "the prince of lies" 's biggest whoppers. It also is odd to see Ghost Rider trust angels so easily, consider they screwed him rather badly in Ennis' mini that was a prelude to this launch. But, the issue has positives; the art is good, and I like some of the action, and I like the idea that as the number of Lucifer's avatars dwindle, every one wants to be "the final one" and thus wants to haggle to keep Ghost Rider, or anything else, from actually killing them. Ghost Rider still seems set on whatever plan he has with Trixie and the corpse, but as we have no idea what it is, it is simply a dues ex machina at this point. The issue I thing is so many writers feel the need to "explain" why Ghost Rider is demonically powered, yet hunts down other demonic beings (in addition to criminals and other general scumbags). Some have went with the "bounty hunter of Hell" explanation, but can't we try to say that Blaze is able to overcome the demon's will? At least somewhat? It worked for Go Nagai's DEVILMAN. Demons are nasty after all, and probably have no qualms about killing each other anyway. But the angel angle just doesn't work at all. This would be my last arc, but by issue #20, we apparently will have a new writer, and his rep is good, so I will stick around for that.

MARVEL COMIC PRESENTS #4: A title that is quickly revealing that the whole is not as good as the sum of it's parts. Some parts are good and some aren't, and they come out at a teasing rate. The Vanguard story chugs along, or rather, the story about Det. Stacy Dolan investigating some wacko murder that ties into space stuff and some MGH crook she once arrested. She is seemingly attacked by her own ally, but is saved by Ms. Marvel, only to have been set up for the murder herself. It is an effective mystery and it is told well. The Outlaw Kid story was a bit of a wash to me. The Hellcat story finishes, and while I sense the Immonen couple had a lot of fun writing & drawing it, I didn't see the point to it. It reminded me of some episodes of TEEN TITANS which are off the way, crazy, wacky, and are fun to watch for 22 minutes but then at the credits it is all forgotten, and you wonder what sort of drugs the writers were on that week. Lastly, there is the Weapon Omega storyline, where John Walker & Arachne's kid chat over some video games while it seems the experiments to get Pointer back to full power have Stark's hand in them, but Agent Brown may have his hands in the pie as well; apparently they are setting up people that Pointer burns out via radius for his powers, but he doesn't know it yet. It is interesting, but seemingly moving at too slow a clip, and considering how cool OMEGA FLIGHT was and how decently it sold, this seems like an underachievement. By this issue, MCP should be out of the Top 100 and doomed to die with issue #12. The market just isn't there for this book. Still, it is harmless and you never know what forgotten characters could get the spotlight.

NEW AVENGERS #37: Well, I'll be! An issue where the team actually works like one! Uses their powers somewhat effectively! Actually fights villains...and WINS! Good lord, how often has this happened in New Avengers....five times, maybe? Out of 37 issues, and a special (which counts as one of those times). There is a downside to the issue, but it isn't Bendis' fault at all. It is Yu's, because his sketchy art sometimes made what should have been a hectic brawl a chore to read sometimes. His covers are lovely, his interiors are hit and miss. Sure, he keeps a schedule, but so could any penciler if they just did a 5 minute sketch and set it to colorist like Yu seems to be doing here. Made worse, Yu claims that meeting Rob Leifield was one of his "best con experiences", which when you have issues with his art, explains TOO much. Naturally, I'll admit to jumping to conclusions last issue out of Bendis-hate; all those spare heroes were just Dr. Strange illusions, as the team stormed the base of the villains. I had to look 2 issues back to be reminded that, no, they aren't battling ALL of the crooks Hood seemingly met with, only the bunch who seem to be at that HQ at the moment. Which, for the record, were Hood, his human schmuck minion, Madam Masque, Wizard, Chemistro, and the Wrecking Crew. Which technically made it the New Avengers 7 vs. 9 criminals, although as Hood's minion was a wash, that really makes it 7 vs. 8. I suppose one could claim that Dr. Strange could have just put them all to sleep, but Bendis is playing with Hood's demonic cloak influence, alledging that it has far more power than his host imagines, as well as nefarious purposes. The magic illuisions eliminated the one-man advantage of the villains as the rest of the team just picked them apart. There are some flaws, naturally. Clint Barton as Ronin is still F'ing stupid. Echo is still a waste of time, as Bendis may be repeating the mistake he made with Spider-Woman; make her appearence some big thing, then do utterly nothing with her for ages. But, the great thing about Bendis is he has never made a mistake that wasn't worth repeating. And yeah, Iron Fist is still generic here, doing nothing more than punching, kicking, and making about 1-2 lines per issue to remind us he is there. He's done so well by Brubaker & Fraction in his solo that it always is shocking to see him being so average in NA. Which is a shame, as it has more exposure. It simply continues the cliche that he is "masked karate man". But, Bendis' dialogue here actually isn't annoying, a rarity. Except for all the grunts, which made it almost sound like reading sex. But at least "decent lines, with a lot of grunting, followed by decent lines" is better than many issues by comparison. The issue ends with Hood's escape and seeming attempt to liberate his arrested gang, leading up to the annual. At least Bendis is making the Annual count. But, to be fair, his USM annuals were usually good. But, Yu is really the major deterrant here. He has a hard track of who is fighting who, or keeping anyone on model. Just because the fight is a mess doesn't mean it has to read like one. Panels are lined up and tilted for no F'ing reason. At one point you don't know if the Hood is slowly escaping, or being incinerated until dialogue and further pages tell you. I know Cho's been slow as **** on MA, but is this the price to pay for speed? Can't there be a happy medium? But, for a NA issue, this was the best in a while, in that it was an issue that achieved mediocrity, actually got a grade of C+ or B-, instead of a fat D. I won't get used to it.

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