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Bought/Thought June 11, 2008

Maybe when she draws the sword, she's replaced a la Genis and Rick Jones by Brian. And whatever happened to Lionheart?
She joined some evil X-Men and an evil Captain Britain and tried to kill everyone. It was in the last arc of Claremont's New Excalibur. Not really sure what happened to her at the end, since I didn't read it.
She had anger in her heart, man. You know what Yoda says about anger.

Oh, actually, according to Wikipedia, she repents and helps New Excalibur. Pete Wisdom arranges a cover story for her that allows her to return to her kids, so she got a nice happily ever after, it seems. Never mind that she was never supposed to be able to reveal her identity to her kids when she became the new Captain Britain...
Never mind that she was never supposed to be able to reveal her identity to her kids when she became the new Captain Britain...

Eh, that was kind of stupid anyway. I could actually pretty much see her going villain on that account. "We are the gods of superheroing! You are now a super hero - BUT YOU CAN NEVER SEE YOUR CHILDREN AGAIN CAUSE WE'RE THE GODS AND WE SAY SO." "All right **** you guys, I'm evil now."
Three whole week's worth of reviews! Crap on a blimp, people. It helps that this week was relatively small for me.

Final Crisis #1
The DCU is broken.

It's not the kind of broken that leads to such saying as, oh, "it's always darkest before the dawn" or "hope comes most oft when unlooked-for" or "Remember Planeteers, the power is YOURS!" or anything like that. Not the brokenness of mindwipes, or civil wars, or other such things that would prevent a hero from working with another.

It's the brokenness of editorial. It's the brokenness of story. In the past two years we've been swamped with one failure after another, one trainwreck piling onto the wreckage of another, one massive traffic pileup going on and on and on. Nothing feels like it's in place for this Crisis. Nothing feels good enough. It frustrates me that Connor Hawke is going to miss out on this event. It frustrates me that, unless something big happens very quickly very soon, Aquaman isn't going to be around for it. J'onn is amongst his best friends, and Arthur just misses out on something as big as his death...which, unfortunately, is something between friends that has been all too common lately in the DCU.

I just can't help but think back to Infinite Crisis, where literally everything was in place for a story of that magnitude and literally everyone had a part to play, and cannot emphasize strongly enough the everything and everyone. Here, it feels like nothing is in place and no one has a part. The Justice League is going to make the requisite rounds 'cause, well, they're the Justice League and they're the ones who make the rounds in spite of anything. But even disregarding the fact that the JLA hasn't exactly been the most coherent team as of late, the JLA isn't the DCU. Not by a long shot. I don't want a JLA story, I want a DCU story. I'm only sort of getting that here, and "only sort of" isn't good enough.

It's doubly frustrating because there's absolutely nothing wrong with the story or writing here. On the contrary, Morrison is totally on top of his game and you can just see the seeds planted for something phenomenal and entertaining. The scope and tone of the story is being set up nicely, divulging a lot of atmosphere, dread, anticipation, etc etc etc. I'm completely looking forward to the next issues.

And, no, for the last time, you don't have to read Countdown. You never did. It doesn't help. Stop asking. Seriously, it doesn't.

I've said it before and I'll say it again over and over because it's so relevant: the strength of the DCU is built on relationships. The DCU is at its best when built on relationships. Even the most convoluted and hamhandled (it's a word now, yes) events, like Our Worlds at War, have truckloads of saving graces built on the relationships that were showcased and strengthened and highlighted within. Final Crisis doesn't feel like it's been built on relationships. It feels like it's been built on events, and mediocre events at that, and we all know that nothing is as good as it could be when it's been built on events.

Hopefully it will prove me wrong. I'm looking forward to being proven wrong.

(6.4 out of 10)

Trinity #1 & 2
Now this is it. This is something built on relationships. And I think we can all see and agree upon just how much of a success it is.

The notion of a bunch of people characters down and talking to each other for an issue gets a lot of flack, and for good reason; lesser writers whose names certainly do not rhyme with denbis have make that sort of story decision synonymous with "boring" and "decompressed" and "fat hobbit." It's easy to forget how good a scene could be just by having a bunch of people sit down and talk to each other. Some of the very best scenes in memory have been done like that. Scenes like this, and like the recent one in JLA, just goes to show. It also goes to show that The Trinity don't get just bunched together so much just because they are the three biggest mainstream names. Like I've said, these three have more history now than they don't. Their personalities mesh will. Their characters react to each other in fascinating ways. Their relationship has been molded and built in ways that only time, history, and good stories could do. As it has been for them, so has it also been (and could be again) for loads and loads of other characters as well.

The backup stories, which aren't really backups so much as they are merely other scenes going on in midst of the same story, are quite fascinating as well, and no less well-done.

Diana's "Hurr hurr we Amazons love proving ourselves hurr" in the second issue brings back uncomfortably twitchy memories of Waid's "Hurr hurr we Amazons can't help but try to prove ourselves hurr" bit during his JLA run, which is a bit disconcerting not only for the fact that Waid and Busiek are often very similar writers. But 'tis only a twitchy memory and not much else.

(9.4 out of 10 for the first issue)
(8.3 out of 10 for the second issue)

Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men
It Ends, and it Ends satisfactorily...umm, sort of. It ends incredibly satisfactorily as an arc, but as the cap off to twentysomething issues of what was basically the most cohesive, engaging X-saga of recent years? Not so much. It feels like there should be a next issue. Well, there is a next issue, but who knows what the heck Ellis is going to do.

A glaring, dangling sore thumb-sticking thing is Danger. Emma promises to help her kill Xavier if Danger helps them, and then she helps them, and then...to be determined. Nothing comes of her, nothing is made of the fact that nothing comes of her, and unless Ellis is savvier than I give him credit for -- which is actually a lot -- nothing ever will come of her.

Other dangles include the Breakworld, so intricately set up and explored and noted in this arc, and yet it basically disappears from the plot after a sort-of-hint at what will happen with the planet. There's some fuss made about the fact that Kruun knows what will stop the bullet, and yet...nothing comes of it. *shrug*

Oh yeah, and Joss writes Spider-Man very well indeed, but since everything about Spider-Man recently makes me want to do things involving Quesada, a noose, and a tree -- and not the fun thing you can do with a noose and a tree -- I didn't really enjoy it as much as I probably could've.

So, what's good? The good is that these are my X-Men. The good is that these are the characters that I would rush to the store to pick up month after...uh, lots of months...and have repeatedly demonstrated why over the past twenty-four issues. I don't know who the hell has been wearing that ruby visor in recent X-books vicariously living out his bloodlust through children, but he sure as hell isn't Scott Summers. I don't know where in the name of Buffy the plot of the X-books have gone this past year -- to the point where even PAD is only barely rousing my interest -- or why I should care about their adventures in hippie San Francisco. If truth be told I actually feel about as disgustingly critical towards the X-Men in recent times as I have been towards something like BND, the only difference being that I know who to blame for that.

The good is that this story and these characterizations have been and continue here to be what I want to read. The good is that every page and panel of this book keeps me rivetted beyond what any other X-writer has given me. The good is that Joss still manages to cram as much of the great characters that I love into the story as humanly possible, in spite of common expectations. The good is Kitty, Peter, Scott, Emma, Hank, and Logan being what I like them to be. The good is that Agent Brand turned in the span of one issue from a character that I was politely appreciative of into a character who I desperately need to read more about in more stories.

And more besides.

(7.4 out of 10)
(8.9 out of 10 for the entire run)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #15
Chock full of awesome that you didn't even expect to be awesome (Dawn, Dracula) as well as the marginally less awesome (Renee), but basically a great cap-off to the arc. Have I mentioned how awesome Dracula was?

(8.3 out of 10)
(7.9 out of 10 for the entire arc)

Angel: After the Fall #8
Eh. Boooored now. I have no real opinions one way or another on Gwen, I don't understand why I should all of a sudden care about two characters I've never met before, and the Gunn portion is disjointed and by-the-numbers. I expected a lot more, especially after the last issue which was actually kind of interesting.

(3.9 out of 10)

Nova #14
Badass epic rivetting all the way through. If you are not reading it, I am left with no choice but to assume that you simply do not enjoy good things and are an agent of Satan.

(9.8 out of 10)

Blue Beetle #27
Wasn't this a Buffy episode? Wasn't this two Buffy episodes? At least the writing was quite decent, and reasonably close to Rogers' tone, and Jaime and Traci are still awesome. I miss being able to pick this series up every month basically knowing that it was going to be the best series in the universe, but this is a pretty good sign.

(7.3 out of 10)

Booster Gold #10
It's really hard to judge this issue without knowing what happens in the next one. Some really good surprises, some excellent scenes, even some humor dispersed in, poignant and effective from beginning to end. It's just hard to decide whether I like this conclusion because there's no real conclusion here, because the story at this point could absolutely go either way. I'd be incredibly surprised if this is just how this particular tale ends.

Oh, and I'm guessing that the Black Beetle is going to be Paco. I have no real proof other than the Power of Dramatic Irony, though.

(7 out of 10)

Green Lantern Corps #25
Great issue. Loved the explanation as to Mercy's origins and goals. And the art remains ****ing visceral, I love it. I have a few theories as to how this is story is going to end, but I believe I will keep them to myself...for now...

(8.6 out of 10)

Thor #9
Hmm. The storyline, dialogue, and art are all amazing. JMS has long since found his stride with this series and I would cheerfully pick up issues after issues of this exact thing.

But one thing that really stuck a sore point with me is how very easily everyone is falling for Loki's bull****. I have trouble believing that Balder and the lot could be so gullible. It just reeks of severe genre blindness. Look, if Loki tells you to do something, you do the opposite. If you tells you to go someplace, go in the opposite direction. I don't care about that whole "Oh but he's mixing his lies with truths!" nonsensery. Loki is along the lines of Mephisto to the Asgardians. You know he's going to try to trick you. You know she is up to no good. It's not a matter of suspecting, you simply know. The guy has tried and succeeded in causing massive evil to her "family" over and over and over again. The fact that he is even allowed to live at this point is a stretch, much less walk openly amongst her kin. You could at least make some sort of argument for Thor being so susceptible to his wiles over these years, with the running theme being that Thor thinks of her as his brother and has a blind spot to his evil, not to mention that Blondy isn't really the greatest lateral thinking in the cosmos. But Balder? Just falling in line with her clever words with no more than a forced "Hey if this goes badly I'm totally blaming you!" spiel? And then things do go very badly, and yet both he and Thor still doesn't suspect Loki had anything to do with it? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Partially because of Loki's own attitude. I mean for Buffy's sake, he's acting exactly like a trickster here. She talks sly, makes the most opaque "Who, me?" statements in the universe, and basically winks sneakily at everyone in sight for an entire issue. A third-grader who's never even heard of the guy in his life wouldn't trust her.

(7.5 out of 10)

Wonder Woman #21
This arc itself is actually less interesting to me than the sorts of clues and blueprints that it's setting up for future arcs. The longterm story of the gods and how that will affect everything, and so forth. DMA/Gorilla shenanigans. And so forth. Stuff with Beowulf and the Stalker and...uh, Conan?...is fun to read and all, but I almost feel like it's going by too fast, almost like Simone just wants to get a move on with it.

The Olde Englishe Speakingse here are a bit less coherent than JMS's, but the point always gets across and is pleasant to read nonetheless. The revelation of the constellation Cassiopeia to reguide Diana was a really cool moment, though I question just why Cassiopeia is "her" constellation. Okay, the fact that it looks like a W is cool, though the ancient Greeks didn't exactly have that letter. Cassiopeia is the Queen, but Diana has never been a Queen, more the princess Andromeda. And Cassiopeia's main trait was that she was arrogant and boastful and vain, which reeeally doesn't work with Diana.

Basically remains a good read, though I'm getting a tad impatient for some real juicy plot stuff to get going.

(7.5 out of 10)

Manhunter #31
Y'know, I don't actually like this character that much. And I'm not actually that enamored of the writing this series has had, which is almost always tolerable but which has occasional twingeworthy moments. And it's all the more confusing because I can't deny that this is a damn good series. It's so coherent, it works so well, it does exactly what it wants. And I approve of that at DC.

And Jaime! He's acting a bit violent here, his mama raised him better than that, and I'm going to pop a blood vessel when they fight for no reason next issue, but meh whatever. Jaime!

(7.9 out of 10)

Robin/Spoiler Special #1
Yeah DC. Let go of Chuck Dixon. It's not as if you'll need anyone to fix the horrible mistakes you'll continue to make down the road, will you? Ugh.

Basically a set of two great stories, turning back the clock and giving a character back to the fans, and doing it well. It almost threatens to overdo it at certain points, painting too much of a rose-colored lens version of Steph, making her too flawless and blameless, which isn't really Steph. Let's not make a Hal Jordan out of this, please. Though with Dixon leaving, I suppose that's one thing I won't have to worry about...

(8 out of 10)

Justice Society #16
Some great character stuff, prettiful art, and the plot moves along a bit. Nothing spectacular, and par for the course for this series, really.

(7.7 out of 10)
Can someone spoil Invincible #50 for me?
Mark lays waste to a bunch of Reani-men, then thousands more are reveald.
He claims he can destroy them all easily, and Cecil agree's he could but they'd be there all day, so ask if they can just talk.
They argue, Cecil reveals he had something implanted into his mind along with his com-link thingy, which actually hurts Mark when used.
Mark flys off to get distance on the range the device has, to which Cecil runs after.

He eventualy gets the the Guardians Of The Globe, everythings revealed, the main bulk of the team take on the reani-men. Rex Destroys the device Cecil is using the turn on the implant in Marks head, which causes a fail safe which just means it doesn't turn off.
Cecil realises he's going to die, teleports to thingy (guy who made the r-men, forget his name, sin claire?), asks him to shut down his army, says it'll take 5 minutes.
Teleports back, see's robots blocked the frequency and see's mark take out the whole army.

errrmmm... basicly, Cecil says he wants nothing to do with Mark anymore, Mark says fine, grabs him by the throat, and says to leave him and his family alone.
Half the Guardians leave, mark reveals to his mum and Eve.

Mark and Eve make with the kisses in his garden, talk, get together, and thats the end.

Sorry for the crappy re-cap, it's late here.

anyways, it was a little underwhelming, but I'll still give it a 9 out of 10, just for the fact I only think it was that way because Kirkman kiiiinda hyped it up a little to much.

Theres also the "Secret Origin of Cecil", and more of the Science Dog story in the back.
You know he's going to try to trick you. You know she is up to no good. It's not a matter of suspecting, you simply know. The guy has tried and succeeded in causing massive evil to her "family" over and over and over again. The fact that he is even allowed to live at this point is a stretch, much less walk openly amongst her kin. You could at least make some sort of argument for Thor being so susceptible to his wiles over these years, with the running theme being that Thor thinks of her as his brother and has a blind spot to his evil, not to mention that Blondy isn't really the greatest lateral thinking in the cosmos. But Balder? Just falling in line with her clever words with no more than a forced "Hey if this goes badly I'm totally blaming you!" spiel? And then things do go very badly, and yet both he and Thor still doesn't suspect Loki had anything to do with it? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Ha ha ha ha, well played.
It may not be technically summer yet, but with a heat wave in NYC, blockbuster films out, and two comic events duel, I say summer is upon us. This week sees a milestone, a dropped book from my pile, and a one-shot that proves more entertaining than the last few issues of an actual event.

As always, this is the Spoiler Segment of our forum.

Dread's BOUGHT/THOUGHT for 6/11/08:

Max Lord on that cover is SUCH a red herring. Yes, in this issue, Ted Kord dies, again. And it STILL is a better send-off than Martian Manhunter got. The conflict between Blue & Gold and the time-stealers comes to a full conflict as the Stealers take on the JLA on the altered reality created via Kord's survival, which resulted in a Lord & OMAC controlled world where most heroes are dead and Superman is traumatized having been Lord's personal goon. Max Lord is dead, but the fight's just begun.

But in the end this is more about Booster vs. his father, or who he thinks is his father. As usual, Johns & Katz get in all the proper exposition and lines that you'd expect, and the artwork from Jurgens & Rapmund is as cool as ever. Dynamic, timeless, and always fitting.

Rip Hunter protects Booster's ancestors from the time-warp caused by the destruction of his original time-pod from the future, which is slowly making Booster fade from existence; don'tcha just HATE when that happens in the middle of a fist-fight with your sleeveless (but not capeless) father? The chalkboard that Rip & Daniel observe probably has some tidbits for those DC continuity junkies, but I'm hardly one. The only Time-Stealer besides Booster's Dad who has any real development is Black Beetle, as the others (Degaton, Albino-Gorilla Ultra Humanite and pre-bulky Despero) just exist to keep the JLA busy (despite being outnumbered and underpowered). It turns out that Booster's father isn't really the mastermind of the entire time ordeal, but his old enemy from 52, Mr. Mind. You remember him. Silly little talking worm (with a voicebox, like he smoked too many stogies) who used to annoy Captain Marvel in the Golden Age and who was trucked out to be some montrous villain at the end of 52. At the time, I felt it worked and was exciting, although now I still admit it is a little silly. It is like if Walrus Man suddenly became a universe-smashing threat with a spookier X-Treme redesign. Mr. Mind is back to being a big-eyed worm with delusions of grandeur, out for revenge against Booster Gold. This connects to 52 at least and as Johns co-wrote that, it makes some sense.

The point is beaten over the head of the reader, for the 3rd time or so, that Ted Kord's death was part of time that was "solid" and undoing it cannot be possible. Too much was at stake and reviving him has upset the cosmic balance. Watching Fire be vaporized in front of them (or, as Dan DiDio calls the murder of a member of the JLI, "a Wednesday") sets the point home. Ted squishes Mr. Mind and sacrifices himself for the good of the timeline, taking Black Beetle with him. Oddly, the villains wanted to create chaos by keeping a hero ALIVE (Beetle), which was an interesting motive.

I wouldn't call this story a "tease"; it was obvious from the start that Blue Beetle's survival wouldn't last, and nearly every issue of the arc had a clue or hint towards this conclusion. Kord himself questioned it at least twice in two separate issues. Some could see this as salt in the wound, but I see it as one more chance to have seen Blue & Gold team up in a well drawn, often witty adventure. And unlike J'onn, or a few other heroes I could mention, Ted Kord once again goes out like a man, and a hero. Twice. Not many dead heroes can claim that. Booster of course has to learn the painful lesson that it isn't all about what is just or what he wants, and that some things have to be let go.

Gee, I bet people wish that Jason Todd's death was "solid time" about now, huh?

Next month we get issue 1 million, because apparently BOOSTER GOLD wants to piggy-back every failed, lame DC event of the 90's (as if to contrast that DC no longer has lame, failed events. Oh, wait...). Still, they usually have been good issues. I just am curious if I will still stick around when the launch team leaves. I can't imagine another set balancing the book out as well. Still, BOOSTER GOLD has been a fun book, a book mired in DC mythos yet doesn't feel oppressive to the semi-casual fan. Despite tragedy and whatnot, it never forgets to have some fun to break things up. And the art is terrific. One of DC's best post-IC titles.

INVINCIBLE #50: After long delays and a horribly delayed schedule (this issue was once solicted for Jan. 2008), Kirkman's Image franchise reaches the half-century mark. We get a double sized issue for $4.99 that naturally resolves some questions and leaves things in a new status quo. I will admit, it isn't nearly as earth-shattering as taggers would have you believe. Part of that is probably due to delays, and the fact that this development was a natural progression from revelations made over the past 5-6 issues. You expected this to happen, and it did. No surprises here, really. Frankly, no shocker in this series will ever top the Omni-Man reveal, but I like that Kirkman tries. Note there is a difference between a "shocker" and a "story". There are stories in Invincible I've enjoyed more than the reveal after that first year, but MAN, that was a nice status-quo breaker.

This one feels more like another stage in maturation. By that I mean Mark no longer taking Cecil at face value upon discovering the man has some deep skeletons in his closet to protect the world. Another quibble is that a lot of the drama depends on you being shocked, SHOCKED, that a government run agency tasked with defending the world would do shady things with shady people to do so. This has been a comic book staple for about 40+ years, and especially within the past eight (and extra especially after CIVIL WAR). Heck, you'd probably have a harder time finding a major franchise storyline in which a government agency proved to NOT be corrupt or borderline wicked. Granted, this is a classic fictional staple precisely because these things go hand in hand. INVINCIBLE has often been an homage to superhero stories as much as it is one itself, and this is probably no exception.

What works is naturally the execution, the lines, and of course, the art of Ryan Ottley.

Faced with a new generation of Reanimen made by a Pentagon-hired D.A. Sinclair (in addition to the murderous Darkwing being on the payroll), Mark demands accountability, deeming it a conflict of morality. Especially since, well, Cecil once ordered Mark to take Darkwing down, as well as the Reanimen. Cecil sees it as putting to use figures that would otherwise rot in prison, especially during an emergency. Mark sees it as an injustice to their victims, living and dead. Mark is hopelessly outnumbered by Reanimen, especially as it turns out that the mic that Cecil implanted into Mark's ear way back in HC #1 actually has a fail-safe that hurts him by basically bombarding his equilibrium, which is more sensitive than a normal man due to him needing to fly. This, actually, felt like a logical sort of weakness (rather than plot convenient stuff like green rocks) and the beating Invincible gets naturally has that Kirkman trademark brutality, even if a bit brief. In attempting to outfly Cecil and his remote control, Mark crashes into the Guardians' base and the team is quickly split over battling Cecil. Cecil, for his part, overreacts and has his Reanimen attack the team even when he could have still tried to reason with them (or at least some of them). Robot saves Mark from the device and the young Viltrumite is officially "fired" from government service. The scene from the cover comes into play when Mark angrilly threatens Cecil to not go near his family, especially his brother, Oliver. On the other hand, the Grayson family will have to survive without Cecil's payroll or connections (like Oliver's teacher), just at a time when Mark decided to drop out of college.

Despite the quibbles, this is a major shift. Cecil has been Mark's mentor and "boss" since Omni-Man turned traitor, and seeing the old man's darker sides naturally is another mountain to overcome. It means that Mark will have to stand on his own and not rely on the fed to bail him out. With Anyssa waiting on the sidelines for Mark to lose his faith in humanity, that Viltrumite War could not be coming at a worse time for him.

The Guardians are split, with Robot seeking to reorganize the old Teen Team, but the issue ends on a positive note as Mark & Eve FINALLY get it on. The final panel is classic Kirkman and very funny.

The back up stories include an origin for Cecil, and it proved to be a good one as ironically, Cecil was a "by the books" moralist like Mark until the rigors of reality set in.

Cory Walker returns to pen the first installment of a Science Dog strip, and it was quirky fun, and I hope there is more of it, a la' CAPES.

INVINCIBLE is still my favorite superhero book overall, but hopefully the schedule improves. It also is a shame that Crabtree the colorist is officially leaving the franchise. Godspeed.

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI-13: #2 Captain Britain is still dead. There, am I as witty as the hacks at Newsarama? :p

Cornell & Kirk's series about the superhero squad from Britain protecting the U.K. from Skrulls continues onwards without any hint of slowing down, and that's a major plus. The first issue starts in the middle of the invasion and there is little middling; boom-boom-boom, action starts.

The Skrulls are most interested in Britain because it appears to be a focal point for magic, at least besides Dr. Strange's pad. They smash into Otherworld and begin collecting one artifact after the other. Wisdom leads John and Spitfire into the realm alongside Tink, a warrior fairy woman who is apparently from the WISDOM series no one read. Still, you are told what is essential to the plot, that this is Wisdom's Otherworld contact. The squad fights some Skrulls, finds Excalibur, but none of them prove worthy of it. And the voice guiding Pete may just be horribly evil.

Meanwhile, Faiza and Black Knight bond over discovering her powers, and for once an origin is mercifully uncluttered. She got zapped by a Skrull machine and gets super-powers. Really, it worked for Ms. Marvel in the 70's, after all. She can apparently disassemble organic beings, and since Skrulls are extra flexible, being shapeshifters, they're easier for her to do. Black Knight gets in some amusing lines, especially one about Sersi not remembering him. That has to suck. I like the little interplay between Dane and Faiza, and I must say Dane's redesign is starting to grow on me, although his shield doesn't look as cool. Usually when you see a woman in a comic in a traditional Muslim headdress, she is either quiet or seems to mention her faith every 5 minutes and what hardships she suffers. Faiza acts like more of a fun character, even admist a choatic scene, which is appreciated. Heroines these days come off usually as ****ty or *****y, and Faiza's neither, so go Cornell.

Of course, Meggan was only Braddock's wife and she all but sacrificed herself, and Brian forgot about that tidbits. D'oh.

Kirk's artwork is naturally stunning with great inks and colors that really make it come alive. He's one of few artists that I follow and he almost always lands on quality projects, or at least on projects worth a read.

Anyone else getting the vibe that Pete Wisdom is officially Marvel's Constantine? Because I sure am. Anyway, at this point I think Brian Braddock will be revived, but it takes some collective effort from Pete Wisdom & crew to do it. Maybe he's like Tinkerbell, and needs the collective heart (or claps) of Britain to do so. If all of Britain could feel it mystically in their guts when he died, then it stands to reason that enough of them could "will" him back. But, that's only my crackpot idea, and I have faith in Cornell now that it will be worth reading. Blade is coming up for the series and considering his utterly terribly streak of comics post-films, I will be awaiting Cornell to finally do something interesting with him. Of course, now that Spitfire is somehow a vampire, that naturally will add tension.

THE LAST DEFENDERS #4: The streak of cover artists better than the interior continues, although I thought this was one of Muniz's stronger issues. I see that Casey is trying to eventually construct his idea of a "new" Defenders roster while still trying to keep the spirit of the older volumes that basically were random B & C-List team-up's. Alas, this "new" team will not include Colossus, which makes me feel a bit cheated about that Newsarama promotion. It will include She-Hulk, who I feared would overshadow him as the more popular tanker, and she already has (even if not in this issue).

Despite that, though, it still is a fun adventure from Casey and Kyle especially gets a great scene here. His mercenary team manages to halt the Atlantian pirate operation from the Brand Corporation, albeit not without the new superpowered warlord Krang killing someone. He escapes as the Mighty Avengers arrive and Junta, Atlas, and Paladin call it a paycheck and move on. Out of the three, only Atlas genuinely wants to be a superhero and it is a shame he didn't stay on, but at least he got to knock down a giant robot, which is more than Colossus did. Paladin once again has wiggy characterization, eager to kill in one story under one writer and willing to merely use his "stun gun" the next (although, like with most Marvel heroes, he has leaned darker during the Joe Q era).

Tony Stark calls Kyle to task for his "illegal" mission and Kyle verbally rips into the armored Avenger with a good little speech, noting how Stark has allowed bureaucracy to smother what once was a noble profession. One could argue that was the entire fallacy of Civil War, punishing all superheroes for the mistakes of one team (who were battling a villain who was literally 'roided up and scored one lucky break). And this is true of real life; a lot of genuinely honest and noble people are crippled by rules and red tape. Being a superhero used to be escapism from that, but no longer is, least at Marvel.

We also learn that apparently a bylaw of the SHRA, which STILL has not been fully and plainly explained to the audience, is that if a registered hero leads an unsanctioned team, they have to forfeit their costumed identity. Of course, Gyrich makes it sound like Kyle simply can't be Nighthawk anymore, but Kyle reacts like he HAS to be a civilian forever. So they suspended his license? Of course, this isn't the first time Kyle was legally banned from being Nighthawk (the other time goes WAY back).

Helstorm, meanwhile, visits his ex-wife Hellcat, who is due to get her own mini soon, and their romance is officially dead. And just when Kyle is coping with what he does now that he's been branded, but knows he's a man, Hellstorm arrives with his steeds from Hell and a costume to match. It isn't bad, but the helmet looks a little silly. Having Hellstorm as part of the final roster is fine, because he was also attached to the Defenders for ages, like Kyle. Some comics have the characters be separate before revealing the final roster in the last issue, this one tricks you with fake rosters before getting there. It is a different approach.

Kyle approaches Jaoquin in the hospital and they naturally go over the last mission, with Jaoquin seeking to make up for his father's legacy with the Sons of the Serpant. At first I was hesitant about the guy probably becoming the next Nighthawk, but after that scene, it may not be so bad. I'll be interested in how it plays out. Overall, while I am a little irked that I was right about Colossus whiffing, Casey has produced a fun superhero series that offers all the standard fare in a satisfying way, and is at least flexing his muscles giving C-stringers a shot to shy. If I didn't appreciate that, AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE wouldn't be one of my favorite titles.

MOON KNIGHT #19: And now for a title that is NO fun. Not that I ever expected Moon Knight to be so, but I never expected it to be this decompressed and dire. People sometimes mock lighter-hearted superhero books, but MK has proven that even "dark heroes" can read just as generic and predictable if not handled the best. MOON KNIGHT often has read like Dark Hero 101, and with this arc finally finished, I can leave the series with no regrets.

The arc villain, Carson Knowles or whatever the hell his name is, has gotten Moon Knight kicked off the registered hero list and a pariah with SHIELD and Stark by framing him for murders, which is almost ludicrous considering how brutal he has been all series. He plans to resurrect his failed political career by mind-controlling a crowd that happens to be gathered for an Iron Man-led gala with nanobot bugs of some kind. Moon Knight gets jolly-stomped, only for Carson to stupidly turn his back on him, and get shoved off a ledge for his trouble. Okay, Specter beats the villain, but hasn't accomplished much. He hasn't cleared his name. Knowles switched from revenge on Marc to NYC takeover in too fast a swoop. Apparently the only villain Moon Knight can beat outright is Taskmaster, which ****ing sucks.

And seriously...Moon Knight beats someone by pushing them off a ledge. Isn't that how a Disney heroine beats people?

Benson took over for Huston and hasn't improved anything. This book suffers from outdated "6 issue or bust" mantra and the stories aren't good enough for that. Texeira's art is nice and Khonshu's insane ramblings are amusing sometimes, but it has gotten rather predictable and I just am not interested anymore. Even a Bendis book I can look forward to in order to tear into it. This just brings about a "meh" sort of sigh. This relaunch could have been more, sadly, it is too stretched out, too predictable and too stuck in it's own mire.
Part II:

SECRET INVASION: WHO DO YOU TRUST?: "Hubba hubba hubba, money money money, WHOOOO do ya trust!?"
Sorry, couldn't resist.

I had forgotten this was out, and then I saw it on the shelf and remembered a Parker/Kirk AGENTS OF ATLAS story was inside, so I bought it. After all, I bought an issue of SPIDER-MAN FAMILY a while back for the same reason. And that story didn't disappoint, but amazingly, neither did the issue, overall. Four stories, 8-10 pages long, and only one real dud. That's a better track record than MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS. Come to think of it, this read a lot like an issue of MCP, only one that actually mattered to the larger scheme of the universe. Maybe that is a way to make an ongoing anthology series work; just use it to shamelessly promote the stories of B-Listers in the middle of an event to add an extra comic to the checklist. Yeah, it's shameless, but Marvel does that anyway (but will just make mini's or one-shots to do so), and it couldn't sell any worse than the last MCP stab.

Brian Reed and Lee Weeks meet again to revisit Captain Marvel (or at least the Skrull currently known as Mar-Vell) in "Farewell", which has the title hero stumble upon the Skrull's plans to invade the Earth. This naturally puts Skrull-Vell in a bind; he wants to protect the planet he has adopted, but also is himself a Skrull at heart. In the end he bids farewell to Heather Sante while surrendering the Skrulls to prepare the Earth for their invasion, trying at least to be merciful and take aim at some baddies along the way, hence the Thunderbolts. It is interesting to note how the media criticizes the Thunderbolts about killing people when the New Avengers were slaughtering ninja like it was going out of style, but the T-Bolts are always such jerks about it, and usually deserve their beat-down's. Hey, if Skrull-Vell had to take out any super-team, the T-Bolts probably have it coming the most. So why was he crying like he was being mind-controlled in SECRET INVASION?

Mike Carey and Timothy Green III do an Agent Brand story, "In Plain Sight", going over her origin a little bit as SWORD was first starting up, and Green III's art works well with aliens. It wasn't anything especially special, but it at least shows that Whedon's character will survive and that other people besides he and Bendis intend to write her. While she is still a token *****, she is amazingly still likable than Maria Hill. Likely because she at least has a sense of humor. Hence why pairing her with the now-humorless Beast makes a shred of sense. Plus, alien chicks are hawt.

Speaking of Beast, Gage & Perkins steal the show with a Wonder Man story, "Seems Like Old Times". Another "between SI issues" storyline, this pair makes a better story in half the length than Bendis has with 22 pages with the same schtick with, say, Sentry or Ka-Zar. Wonder Man is fighting the Skrulls in the Savage Land and bumps into "Beast". Naturally, this is more than likely a Skrull posing as Beast; as Mar-Vell can attest, he may even believe he is Beast. At first Simon is irritated by the pretender, but when "Beast" raises so many points about the utterly ridiculous changes that have occured to Beast since Morrison's NXM, from the brooding character shift to the cat-like forms, he makes a lot of good points. Who here seems more like the Beast of yore? Wonder Man & Beast used to be like Booster & Beetle for Marvel, only while that team was shattered by actual death, this one was shattered by the murder...of fun and character relationships in Marvel heroism. The story ends with "Beast" unable to trust Simon either, and leaping off. Now, I have no doubt that this Beast was a Skrull, and not because I doubt Marvel would retcon a Morrison plotline, because they already have many times. No, it is because I doubt Marvel would retcon a WHEDON plotline. Besides, just because Beast is a cat now doesn't mean he can't lose the stick from his ass. Still, it was a rare gem of a story.

The dud is Zen Wells & Steve Kurth's Marvel Boy storyline. I'd almost forgotten about this dude after 2-3 years and this story proves why. It was all over the place and quite blah, and I just don't care about this character. At all. But will he die? No. Only characters that people actually care about ever die. That is why they are killed.

Finally, is the Jeff Parker/Leonard Kirk AGENTS OF ATLAS storyline, with the team saving Namora from capture, taking the head of a Skrull captive while they wage a gorilla (pun intended) war against the invasion with hit and run raids. The characters all act great together and it merely reminded me how much I liked AGENTS OF ATLAS and how I would sacrifice X-MEN: FIRST CLASS in a heartbeat to just have a shot at even another 4 issue mini with this team. They're clock full of Golden Age characters and they're loads quirkier than The Twelve are. It was worth my money to see the Agents on another mission, and Gorilla-Man is cooler than Detective Chimp. There, I said it.

Even the cover isn't too shabby, considering I am so tired of Skrull covers by now that they make me see red instead of green most times.

THE TWELVE #6: Another solid issue of the gathering of Golden Age relics dusted off for another go. While JMS' slow pace gets irksome on THOR sometimes, with this large cast it is very welcome.

Laughing Mask goes to jail, while the issue focuses a bit on Black Widow and her lesbian goth scene, as Dynamic Man comes in conflict with his closet homosexuality (and not in a good way), as Phantom Reporter struggles with writer's block and his own desires. Blue Blade's show is critically panned and the major plotline inches forward as Earl warns of something very wrong being afoot. Of course, we know this will lead to the Reporter's new costume and a very dead Blue Blade.

Rockman also has his origin revealed, and much to my dismay, he is just a guy who is crazy and thinks he comes from below the Earth. He was a stoic miner in the pre-unionization days fighting against the corrupt company, a fight that led to an explosive mine collapse that empowered him, but took all that he knew. Weston naturally matches the panels to his last go with Rockman's backstory and the origin is touching enough that I could live with it. Still, this vanquished underworld kingdom could have helped get Mole Man some street cred.

Not much else to say that I already haven't. This is a good self contained series that breathes new life into some very old characters and makes then compelling. JMS' weakness in one book is a strength in this one. And overall while I doubt every one of The Twelve survives the mini (although didn't a 12 issue series used to be considered a "maxi" series?), I hope enough do that Marvel can finally relaunch some attempt at a JSA equilivant. They're more than past due.
Eh, that was kind of stupid anyway. I could actually pretty much see her going villain on that account. "We are the gods of superheroing! You are now a super hero - BUT YOU CAN NEVER SEE YOUR CHILDREN AGAIN CAUSE WE'RE THE GODS AND WE SAY SO." "All right **** you guys, I'm evil now."
It's her own fault for choosing the wrong tool as Captain Britain. The Amulet of Right would've allowed her to see her kids. But noooo, she was all angry and emo about it. :o
Drawing Excalibur doesn't make you Captain Britain, as far as I know. The amulet does.
Or the Sword of Might. And Cornell could easily change that to be tied to Excalibur. Brian's gotten new powers from Excalibur before, for one thing.
It's her own fault for choosing the wrong tool as Captain Britain. The Amulet of Right would've allowed her to see her kids. But noooo, she was all angry and emo about it. :o


Seriously, the gods are dickbags.
It wasn't the gods, it was Brian and Meggan. So blame England and nature, respectively.
I drive my car around the block a few times while cursing England every night.
On st. pat's I like to stand outside a british pub and randomly punch people as they leave unexpectedly in the gut. It's my form of community service. I used to punch the french but that made my hand smell weird afterwards.
Punisher MAX - Little Black Book

Features the Punisher going after a Cuban ganglord he found in a high-class hooker's little black book. The rather short comic is narrarated from her point of view, which starts intriguing and well-done, but gets tedious by the end.

The action comes off rushed, the art works in some areas but not in others. The Punisher acts in areas like he shouldn't, such as ditching a machine gun to take on a room of gangsters with his bare hands.

On the plus side, the build-up to the action is handled well. As well, it's really cheap!

I'd only recommend it to a Punisher fan though.
Next month we get issue 1 million, because apparently BOOSTER GOLD wants to piggy-back every failed, lame DC event of the 90's (as if to contrast that DC no longer has lame, failed events. Oh, wait...).

Ahem! I'm afraid you must be talking about another JLA One Million. :o

I read Who Do You Trust and thought it was actually a lot better than Secret Invasion. I still think Bendis could do with a co-writer - It seems to me his ideas seem to be handled better by other people.

I decided to try out the new Eternals too it's not bad but it's just not as exciting as Gaimans version. I'll give it a chance though.

Joy as I managed to get my hands on Captain Britain #1 & #2 but not sat down and read them yet.

Lobster Johnson trade was still the best thing I read this week. I read Invincible volume 9 and it just felt like a trade of filler rather disappointing.
I liked the One Million event quite a lot myself. :up:

Does anyone else think Booster Gold One Million looks a lot like Booster and Waverider combined?
Amazing Spider-Man #562 - I love Mike McKone! His art is fantastic! But honestly, this story was too slow. After Slott's amazing arc, we got a sort of filler issue. It wasn't bad though, and this kind of story really cannot be any faster or else I would be complaining that everything is happening too fast. 3.5/5

Captain Britain and MI: 13 #2 - Pretty good. This is a great Secret Invasion Tie-In, really interesting, and is a great read. 4/5

Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? - Well I love Secret Invasion, so I was excited for this. Sadly, it was extremely average. The only stories that really interested me were the Captain Marvel story and, the best story, the Beast and Wonder Man story. 3/5

Spider-Man: With Great Power #4 I love this mini series. This was such a beautiful issue: It had Uncle Ben's famous line, it had Peter drinking under age (which for some reason really entertained me), and had Peter finally realize that he can be a superhero. Amazing. 4.5/5

Trinity #2 - I love this mini series! It's fantastic! I loved seeing Green Lantern this issue and everything was great. Bagely's art is really good, although feels a bit rush, it is still great. Excellent series so far! 4.5/5

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