Thursday, May 31, 2012


STORY: Howard Mackie
ART: Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund

If you (at all) have been following my coverage of Superboy and Teen Titans since January, you'll know how much I've come to dislike both series for their condescending narrative tones oddly juxtaposed against overly-complicated plots. These issues have been persistent since the 'New 52' relaunch back in September when each series relied on one another to keep a single, but painfully fractured story moving forward. Of course, two series wasn't enough for Scott Lobdell who pens both TT and Superboy - over the past month, "The Culling" has spanned both of Lobdell's series as well as Legion Lost to (not really) flesh out a story that ended with a fizzle. Apparently, even that wasn't enough and now, The Ravagers takes some of the most disposable characters from Lobdell's ridiculous imagination and spins them out into their own title.

Fan-favorite Caitlin Fairchild from Wildstorm's Gen13 takes center stage as she attempts to keep the victims of Harvest's culling safe in the real world after the Titans and Legionnaires managed to annoy him enough to make him run off to one of this other super-awesome underground facilities. Notice I did not say they defeated him. Other characters include the mysterious, lizard-like Ridge; the brother and sister duo, Thunder and Lightning; along with Terra and Beast Boy, two characters who have panel time only as fan service and nothing else. Seriously, both Terra and Beast Boy are little more than cardboard cutouts placed into panels so other characters can talk at them. They rarely interact with anyone else, and they go off on their own within the first five pages. DC pulled a big grift with this one, pulling buyers in with the promise of two beloved characters from an awesome TV show. These two will be the main reason I read The Ravagers at all, but if their panel time continues to be this sparse, it won't be worth the effort at all.

Thunder and Lightning are pretty stupid too. I mean, I'm no expert - nor even a scholar of Lobdell, and now Mackie's, work - but shouldn't these two have developed more control over their powers if they'd been fighting in the Scarlett Letter The Crucible all those years? A lot of tertiary characters are out of sight and out of mind, as well. Fairchild led dozens of kids away from Harvest, and now we only get to see six or seven of them.

What's worst about The Ravagers is that it's boring. When N.O.W.H.E.R.E. agents arrive and offer a surrender, many of the kids go off on their former captors, spewing ridiculousness like "I'll make you pay!" and "I'll have my revenge!" While Mackie doesn't insult the reader with his charmless syntax and diction like Lobdell, his overall narrative is so long in the tooth that it seems pointless to read it again. Why would I need another series about emotionally scarred super-kids to follow? I've already got countless X-Men titles, the constant awkwardness of Teen Titans, and the amazing quality of Young Justice over on Cartoon Network to keep me sane.

The Ravagers is just unnecessary, and that's a big weak point when it comes to a series that's supposed to be all-action all the time. The series is called The Ravagers, yet these MAIN CHARACTERS are not Ravagers! Rose Wilson and Warblade are Ravagers, and they appear and attack Fairchild & Co., but the entire title of this book is a total and complete misdirect. Who knows, maybe Mackie has amazing plans for this title down the line and I'll just need to sit it out and wait. Unfortunately for me, I have to endure characters like Ridge until DC gets it's shit together.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012


STORY: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
ART: Jason Fabok

While not exactly a tie-in to "Night of the Owls", Batman Annual #1 does a fantastic job of bookending the event and bringing a revised Mr. Freeze into the 'New 52' with a mixture of elegance and horror that is impossible to put down. Scott Snyder has been deftly handling Batman since the relaunch, and this first Annual really delves into the characterization of one of the Dark Knight's most notorious villains. In Red Hood and The Outlaws, we learned that Mr. Freeze invented the compound that the Court of Owls was using to resurrect their legions of Talons. It was a quick revelation, and Freeze is quickly defeated by Jason Todd and taken to Batgirl for transport to Arkham Asylum, which is where Batman Annual #1 begins.

Snyder and James Tynion IV take us six years into the past, when Victor Fries worked for Wayne Industries and hadn't become all iced out yet. Upon Bruce Wayne's return to Gotham City - after his initial globetrotting training expedition - Fries explains his research to Wayne's complete dismay. Bruce doesn't much care for cryogenics research and wants it halted in favor of newer procedures like organ vitrification. Fries is none too happy about this and fights to keep his program going, and Bruce reluctantly gives in. A short jump forward in time takes us to Fries continuing his research after Bruce finally decided to end the cryogenics work. Bruce confronts Fries and fires him, even after Fries begs on behalf of his frozen wife, Nora, who he wishes to reanimate.

The entire scenario is chilling (not to get too punny) and masterfully shows how Fries could develop a grudge against Bruce Wayne. Honestly, it's hard to spend a lot of time creating rich histories for most characters these days. More often than not, readers have to learn to love their favorite heroes while said hero is growing one issue at a time. Snyder and Tynion IV handle Mr. Freeze with such care and dedication that all I want is to read more Batman/Mr. Freeze stories. Hell, I'd even settle for a viewing of Batman: Sub-Zero.

Freeze is super-pissed at the Court of Owls, who used his compound before attempting to assassinate him (in the pages of Red Hood and The Outlaws #9). Now he just wants to retrieve Nora and get out of Gotham. Nightwing and Robin show up at Wayne Industries and switch Nora's cryogenic tank, and hold of Freeze until Batman arrives

This final confrontation between Batman and Mr. Freeze is the gut-punch point of the entire issue. Freeze is a lot more nutty than his pre-'New 52' self. Turns out, Nora isn't his wife at all! She's actually the first human ever cryogenically frozen and she was put under almost 100 years ago. Snyder and Tynion take the old Freeze mythos and make him even more demented. Of course, the man is still a scientific genius - he did invent the reanimation process, after all - but the meaning he has prescribed to his relationship with Nora is disturbing. Freeze is no longer a good man with a frozen heart, but rather a demented psychopath with a wholly perverted notion of love.

Along with his newfound neuroses, Snyder and Tynion have given Freeze more than just a biological condition and an ice gun. His skin now exudes cold and he can spit ice from his mout. While Greg Capullo's artwork in Batman has been fantastic thus far, Jason Fabok does a ridiculously good job conveying the sub-zero temperatures and all the insane new ways Freeze has at his disposal to kill people. All around, Batman Annual #1 is great - Mr. Freeze is not firmly established, not only in the 'New 52', but as a reimagined horror that has been part of Bruce Wayne's life for years.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

(THE WEEK) MAY 30 - JUNE 5, 2012


Batman Annual #1
(Snyder, Tynion IV, Fabok)
"Night of the Owls" continues as Mr. Freeze's connection to the Court of Owls is revealed! Extra-long premier Annual issue for Batman!

The Ravagers #1 (SPECIAL COVERAGE)
(Mackie, Churchill)
DC's 'New 52: Second Wave' finishes up it's first month with the aftermath of "The Culling", the crossover event connecting Superboy, Teen Titans, and Legion: Lost. See what happens to the 'other' metahuman teenagers that didn't get to go with the Legionnaires or the Titans.

Superman #9
(Johns, Reis)
I know, I know: this issue was released last week and I never reviewed it! Well, this week is a little scarce on new material - being a 5th week, and all - so I'll be going back to cover this issue of Superman for your reading pleasure.

Wonder Woman #9
(Azzarello, Akins)
Another issue this month I neglected to review. Check out how Diana's trip into Hell is going.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

(DC NATION) MAY 26, 2012

Green Lantern: The Animated Series
Season 1, Episode 13

I know I've ragged on GL: TAS before. Multiple times, actually, and with some pretty solid malice behind my words. And honestly, this show struggled for the first six or seven episodes before it really shifted into it's groove and became comfortable with Hal and Kilowog actually using their power rings. Fortunately, the latter half of this group of episodes has been getting better and better each week. Bruce Timm, the show's Executive Producer, obviously has a lot of love for Green Lantern, as evidenced by his various fan service inclusions this season like the Zamarons, the episode about killing a GL for his ring, Saint Walker, Mogo, the Thanagarians, and oh so much more. "Homecoming" is by and far the best episode of GL: TAS, marking a turning point in quality and content.

This episode, the Red Lanterns are moving in full-force toward Oa as Atrocitus has stolen the GL Interceptor, and the rest of the fleet moves toward the path through the asteroid field and into Oan space. Oh, and Hal, Kilowog, and Razer are stuck at the edge of Guardian space, and 18-month flight away from the Guardians and Oa. It's not looking too good for the Green Lanterns right now.

Hal and Razer travel to Zamaron to get help teleporting across a great distance like the Sapphire's did to Carol Ferris in "In Love and War", while Kilowog stays at the asteroid field to stave off the Red Lantern invasion fleet all by himself. Though Hal is able to travel to Earth - based on his base emotions for Carol - and therefore much closer to Oa, he loses his memory in the process. This sequence seems somewhat unnecessary since amnesia usually lasts a long time, and it takes Carol all of ten minutes - after she realizes Hal doesn't even know what a Green Lantern is - to find Hal's power battery and "reboot" him. Again, it simply feels unnecessary. Why couldn't Hal just come to Earth and fly off? That's what ended up happening anyway, it just took longer.

Kilowog, on the other hand, has a very necessary role and is soon joined by Saint Walker, complete with his new Blue Lantern ring and the ability to super-charge Green Lantern power rings. Of course, "two soliders won't change anything," as Kilowog points out. That's when Mogo shows up. Like I mentioned earlier, this is my favorite episode of the series thus far and part of it comes from this scene. Seeing Kilowog, Mogo, and Saint Walker ripping up some Red Lantern armadas was breathtaking and something that should have been on the screen years ago. It's such a compelling scene that I had to pause my DVR and just sit for a moment and think about how awesome it was.

Atrocitus succeeds by landing on Oa and nearly bringing the Guardian's to their knees. I was a bit confused by this scene at first. I kept wondering, "where are all the GL's?" Of course, they've all been sent toward the asteroid field to prepare for Atrocitus' armada. But this is a plot point that was only glossed over a few times in the past couple of episodes, and it just kind of felt like a way to get rid of the Green Lantern Corps so the animators wouldn't have to render 3,600 GL's at the same time. Salaak - the Guardians' right-hand-man/secretary/assistant - makes a fantastic appearance and even throws his computer module aside in favor of four energy daggers that seriously make Salaak cooler than he's been in years in the pages of the comic books.

I really have loved watching Green Lantern: The Animated Series grow from a childish, non-ring-having show that could be about any old space travelers, to a solid series that takes the legacy of Green Lantern and molds it into a more digestible form for a wider audience. If Blue Lanterns, Mogo, and Villius Vox as the leader of the Red Lanterns doesn't excite you for second season (which, at the time of this writing, hasn't been announced), then this just might not be the show for you. If space odysseys, the Rainbow Brigade, and action is your thing, I'll see you right here when season two begins!


Young Justice
Season 2, Episode 5

So far, what's made Young Justice: Invasion compelling has been the deft way the writers balance the A and B stories each episode. In the first season, there was a group of six main characters to follow, so splitting them up was usually confined to one-on-one interactions. This season, however, the extended cast gives writers room to create diverse teams that can be interchanged whenever they want. At the same time, more characters means more character development, which is never a bad thing. This week, Blue Beetle stars in his own solo adventure, while the Team's female furies - Miss Martian, Bumblebee, Batgirl, and Wonder Girl - gather to investigate one of Queen Bee's many illegal military compounds for signs of alien technology.

The girls, the girls.
Jaime Reyes' background has been tweaked a bit (as seen in last week's "Salvage"), but he's still the same character at his core - constantly fighting with the voice of the Scarab in his head. This episode, though, Jaime spends little time as Blue Beetle, instead forced to keep the Scarab at bay as he attempts to investigate the disappearance of his friend, Ty. It's not the most interesting plot, but it's nice to see any character in street clothes and it gives Jaime more personality that simply being the crazy kid who seems like he talks to himself.

On the other side of the globe, the girls' mission in Bialya takes a turn for the worse when Wonder Girl is spotted and taken down by a group of metahumans led by Psimon - who was thought to be safely under watch in an induced coma. Again, this is not a very plot-heavy tale. I would even argue that it was simply a narrative designed to bring the female members of the Team together in some meaningful way. There didn't need to be a very deep story, so there wasn't.

Overall, this might be one of the weaker episodes of the season plot-wise, but as far as fan service and character inclusions, this one's a winner.


Saturday, May 26, 2012


STORY: Jeff Lemire
ART: Mikel Janin

With a name like Justice League Dark, it's not hard to see why this series might not be high on most readers' radar. You've already got the main Justice League, along with the extremely competent Justice League International, as well as Teen Titans and Green Lantern Corps to round out the whole 'team-based series' quota, so why the need for an occult-related team and why call it the JLD? The answers: because the team is awesome and the name is as much a satire as it is an indicator of what these folks are actually up to. Alien invasion? Superman and Green Lantern have you covered. Some witch bending reality as a result of her inherent madness? You call these guys.

I came to Justice League Dark a little late, as my aforementioned quandaries regarding the series kept me from even flipping through it's pages. That, along with my normal aversion to horror-or-magic-based titles meant it simply wouldn't be something I would be interested in. So, I sit here at my desk a corrected man. Justice League Dark is great.

That being said, I'm mostly impressed with the last three issues, including the one for this review. For the past two months, Justice League Dark has crossed over with I, Vampire for "Rise of the Vampires", an event that resulted in Andrew Bennet becoming the new leader of all vampires, complete with a whole new host of awesome powers. This month, JLD begins it's third arc (technically) with a new team roster or "the new band" as John Constantine puts it.

Steve Trevor (from the pages of Justice League and the one who coins the term 'Justice League Dark') tasks a reluctant John Constantine to rescue stop a mad Felix Faust and rescue the reimagined Dr. Mist in exchange for five minutes in the Black Room, a single warehouse filled with every single mystical piece of paraphernalia ever ascertained by the United States government. With his own interests always at heart, Constantine rallies the troops to travel to Egypt.

I was only halfway impressed with the lineup choices for the first six issues of JLD. John Shade and Mindwarp were very odd choices to throw into the mix, and they get written out this issue as Constantine explains that he needs to reorganize his magical buddies. John's successful in getting Zatanna and Deadman back into the game, but chooses Andrew Bennet as a new ally, cashing in a favor to guarantee his loyalty. Madame Xanadu refuses based on her past repor, and newcomer Black Orchid - a shapeshifter - acts as Trevor's liaison and extra manpower when magic isn't enough.

Well, it turns out that in defeating Felix Faust, the JLD would also be able to retrieve a mystical artifact lost to the government before it turned up in Faust's hands. After a cunning sleight-of-hand maneuver, Faust is defeated and the team takes a look at the real focus of their trip: the map to the ancient Books of Magic.


Friday, May 25, 2012


STORY: Judd Winick
ART: David Finch and Richard Friend

While this is the correct Talon, Red Robin does not fight him....?
As you probably know either from experience or simply just from prior knowledge of DC's business practices, Batman has a big presence in the 'New 52.' Not only is he DC's most popular hero, but it's possible the sales numbers for Bat-related books keep others afloat (I'm looking at you, Demon Knights.) But with a big presence comes a larger potential for shitty, unnecessary titles that add bloat instead of important - or even interesting - plot or character development. Batman: The Dark Knight falls right in the middle; it's not a terrible book, but it's also not the best Batman-related title that DC offers. That being said, Batman: The Dark Knight #9 happens to be my favorite crossover issue for "Night of the Owls". It's an issue that focuses mostly on a Talon named Carver who's career lasted too long. Technically, he was the final talon before Dick Grayson's generation, giving him a closer connection to the events of Batman's life.

Inner monologue is a tricky thing to successfully convey. If - at any moment - the reader feels like the character's thoughts are corny, cheesy, or downright ridiculous, it's a lot harder to relate to that particular title. No one thinks in sentences about their grand plans and how their unique abilities will help them complete said plans (i.e. - I never think to myself, "I'm going to use my skill in writing to keep up with my blog now!" and then proceed to write.) We call this the 'Scott Lobdell Principle' here at "The Endless Reel." The trick is to integrate the reader so smoothly into the thoughts of the desired character, that the reader becomes connected (no matter how temporarily) to said character. Judd Winick is one of those writers who gets it - he makes inner monologue feel less forced.

Batman: The Dark Knight #9 follows Talon Carver's life from childhood to undead resurrection. It's been interesting to see how DC's conveyed these Talons as enemies. At first, it seemed like they were somewhat mindless drones that obeyed the Court of Owls without question. As we near the end of "Night of the Owls", it's becoming more and more clear that these Talons have control over their own thoughts, and some choose to be completely loyal, while others explore the undead life they've been given. In this case, Carver obeys the Court, but mostly for his own sense of redemption. Carver's career as a Talon ended in disgrace after he botched an assassination, was seen by the Batman, and then fled.

Carver was the Talon sent after Lincoln March that we met a few weeks ago in Batman #9. B:TDK reinterprets the scene to include Talon Carver's perspective on the events. In the end, Carver is still old, slow, and weak. The difference is that this time, he accepts his fate; he feels deserving of the cruel end he's been dealt because he's no longer good enough for anything else.

"Night of the Owls" has been at it's best when it gives the Talons compelling characterization. Batman: The Dark Knight #9 does the best job - so far - of making an emotional connection between the reader and Talon Carver. And he escapes at the end! Does this mean we haven't seen the last of Carver? Will he return as a Talon or as a new villain? Next month promises the return of Scarecrow, but part of me just wants to change this series' title to Carver and follow this Talon on his quest to understand where he fits into the world.


PS - The cover is a total mislead - Red Robin shows up for exactly one panel, and it's only to listen to orders from Batman. A total letdown. This grade would have been an 'A+' if not for that tease.


STORY: Tony Bedard
ART: Tyler Kirkham and Batt

Green Lantern: New Guardians is the least straightforward of any GL-related titles in DC's 'New 52.' Hal Jordan and Sinestro are battling the Indigo Tribe, while Guy Gardner and John Stewart are getting ready for an Alpha Lantern incursion. Kyle Rayner, on the other other hand, is on his own, cut off from Oa and forced to ally with the other colored Lanterns in a string of events that's been somewhat hard to follow, but enjoyable nonetheless. After an initial arc where the Rainbow Brigade is pitted against galactic archangel Invictus, subsequent issues have focused on individual characters rather than the ensemble cast.

This month, the Reach has arrived Odym - the Blue Lantern homeworld - and plan to drain it's natural resources. The Reach is the alien cult responsible for the beetle Scarab that attached itself to Jaime Reyes in the pages of Blue Beetle. In fact, every member of the Reach wears a blue scarab that takes control of the host and turns he/she/it into a living weapon at the disposal of this galaxy-conquering parasitic force.

Saint Walker is revered as a demi-god on Odym - all of the new Blue Lantern recruits idolize him as The Blue Lantern, the first of their kind. It's not too far off base, as Walker has proved his tenacity over and over again. When the Reach invades, Walker is who they look to as their leader, and he takes the mantle with conviction.

One of the best scenes of the entire issue comes from a new character, Shon. A relatively new Blue, Saint Walker sends Shon off-planet to find a Green Lantern so the Blue Lanterns can use their rings offensively. When young Shon finds that the foot solider blitzkrieg was just a diversion for the 'cocooner' machines wrapping the entire planet in the Reach's control, he loses hope and his ring. With a cold, "HOPELESS", the ring flies off Shon's finger and drops him to his death. It's a harrowing scene that drives home the idea that the Reach is not to be messed with.

It's hard to make beetle-men seem intimidating, but Tony Bedard does a fantastic job of keeping the pace steady and giving more information on a need-to-know basis. Tyler Kirkham's art is spectacular in conveying the hopelessness of the Blue Lanterns' defense against the Reach. This GL: NG / Blue Beetle semi-crossover looks to be very interesting, not only from a narrative standpoint, but also for it's ramifications on the DC universe in general!


Thursday, May 24, 2012


STORY: Grant Morrison
ART: Chris Burnham

Just like any Grant Morrison-penned title, Batman Incorporated is weird as hell. Remember Seven Soldiers of Victory back in 2004? How about All-Star Superman? On these - and countless other occasions - Morrison has captivated audiences not with direct plot narratives, but with twists, turns and confusion that can best many casual readers. It takes a lot to read Morrison's work, but it pays off.

The opening pages of Batman Incorporated are totally incomprehensible. Batman and Robin are chasing after a goat-headed individual into a slaughterhouse where they are met by some group of criminals in animals masks. Let it be said that these few pages in the slaughterhouse itself are some of the most bloody and explicit images I've seen in a comic in quite some time. I'm sure something worse has come along in recent history, but there's just something about seeing these innocent cows caught in the crossfire of this criminal activity is somewhat nauseating. It's a poignant move to make Robin give up meat in light of this episode.

Moving forward - because that's honestly the only way I know how to review Morrison's concept work - Bats and Robin go after some upside-down star symbol that had a connection to the slaughterhouse. Turns out the symbol, the "Demon Star" translates to 'al ghul' somehow, which means all this kerfuffle has to do with Talia and Damien. Again, this is issue one of a Grant Morrison story, so there's not much more than anticipation being created, which also comes in abundance.

There's a small vignette focusing on some other members of Batman Incorporated, but they're barely named and are given no real plot, in the most technical of terms. It seems like Morrison simply needed to introduce the character without going to far into their story, which kind of seems like a cop-out.

The final pages are dedicated to the assassin who's been hunting Damien the entire issue. He's been brought in by the mysterious Leviathan and made to explain how he shot Batman and killed Robin! And that's where the issue ends! It's a very satisfying cliffhanger.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


STORY: Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco
ART: Ig Guara and JP Mayer

"The Culling" has been a mixed bag when it comes to crossover events. While the series connected to the event - Superboy, Teen Titans, and Legion: Lost - haven't really been the critical achievements DC probably hoped they would be (except Legion: Lost - who knows why this book is around), this crossover between the three has made for a compelling read. I mean, what better way to introduce a whole cadre of characters into the 'New 52'? But instead of bringing "The Culling" to a satisfying conclusion, Teen Titans #9 wades around in it's own ridiculous plot so long it becomes tedious.

Harvest has, so far, been an enigmatic villain. With no backstory and only minute references to his true agenda, it's hard to find any sense - and thus, meaning - in anything he does. Villains need just as much motive as heroes to affect their actions, and Harvest has no motive, so to speak. It's incredibly frustrating as a reader because Harvest simply flies away after the Titans and Legionnaires destroy his base (or whatever compound of weirdly-named locations he traipsed about.) There is literally no conclusion.

Basically, Caitlin Fairchild gets all the metahuman teenagers out of the Scarlett Letter the Crucible and the two teams go all-out on Old No-Eyes. The fighting isn't even satisfying because throughout the pages and pages of brawling, Harvest keeps blathering on about his new world order, or whatever it is he talks about. He's basically reduced to a super-annoying demi-god with no real purpose. Supposedly, he meant for the kids to escape so they can be dangerous in public so the government will need organizations like N.O.W.H.E.R.E., not only to curb the rise of teenage metahuman crime, but also to placate the job demand for silly name acronyms. Then he flies away. That's it. Oh, then the Titans wake up on some island?

If you look back at my review of Superboy #9 and even Teen Titans Annual #1, you'll see that I was actually enjoying this story more than I have for either series thus far. But this sloppy, uninteresting "conclusion" is so weak, it drags down the entire crossover.



Hey there, everybody. This past weekend, I took a road trip to Washington D.C. with a friend of mine and didn't prepare for my absence at all. Honestly, I should have written these reviews earlier in the week and scheduled them throughout the weekend. But them's the breaks. To make up for that, I've written some '3-Sentence Reviews' for some of the issues that I missed while hanging out in the nation's capital.

Saga #3
STORY: Brian K. Vaughan
ART: Fiona Staples

Saga continues as Marko and Alana face the Horrors of the night, and it turns out, they're not so scary after all! With her husband unconscious, Alana must deal with the ghosts who are stuck on the planet Cleave and simply want to interact with the living. Forced to team up with a ghost named Izabel, Alana must get Marko to snow before he dies. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to show the rest of the comic book industry exactly what good writing is.


AvX: VS #2 (of 6)

STORY: Steve McNiven and Kieron Gillen
ART: Steve McNiven, John Dell, and Salvador Larroca

After a fist issue that couldn't really make up it's mind about whether there would be actual "winners" to these extended fights, AvX: VS #2 simply gets lazy. Captain America vs. Gambit is a ridiculous bout - that no on actually wanted - that goes in Cap's favor for the sake of narrative instead of their supposed power sets. Colossus vs. Spider-Man was totally, completely unnecessary...and then Spidey runs away making Colossus the default winner. I'm sure I'll continue checking out AvX: VS simply for the art, but beyond that, this mini-series has showed that there's little value to it's $3.99 price point.


Red Hood and The Outlaws #9
STORY: Scott Lobdell
ART: Kenneth Rocafort

Probably one of the best "Night of the Owls" crossover issues, Red Hood and The Outlaws #9 introduces Mr. Freeze back into the 'New 52', as well as gives readers one of the most compelling Talons yet. The gang splits up with Starfire and Roy attempting to stop Mr. Freeze from controlling all of Chinatown, while Jason runs off after the Talon who was after Freeze in the first place. Scott Lobdell usually falls on his face, but in RHatO, his writing has been golden; the discussion between Jason and the Talon is touching, moving, and actually makes the reader empathize with the undead assassin. Mr. Freeze will be featured in this month's Batman Annual #1.


Friday, May 18, 2012


STORY: Peter J. Tomasi
ART: Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna

This cover is a misdirect.
The firs six issues of Green Lantern Corps were action-packed and fun to read. The same cannot be said for "Alpha War", the current arc. Granted, I've said nice things about GLC the past few months mostly because I was hoping things would start moving a little quicker. Unfortunately, Green Lantern Corps #9 suffers from simply not being interesting.

"Alpha War" seems to be a misdirect, as there has been no 'war', so to speak. Yes, the Alpha Lanterns are getting all up in John Stewart's face, and yes, the Guardians are probably using the Alphas to bring about the coming of the mysterious "Third Army". The stakes just don't seem as high as they should be. I read an editorial piece recently that posited that the Guardians of the Universe have become long in the tooth; they've been so dastardly for so long now, it's not as shocking to see them scheming as it was back in, say, 2007. And the fact that - after years of storytelling - there are still deep, dark secrets in the Guardians' closet means that these blue beings have been corrupting the universe since it's inception, and that's a notion that throws the entire DC Universe into question. Apparently, no one at DC thought to look into this further.

Basically, Green Lantern #9 is one long trial. It's suuuuuuper boring. A lot of trial jargon and scenes of the entire Corps in attendance doesn't make up for a filler of an issue. The only good part comes when a few Lanterns raid the crypt and attempt to smash Kirrt's statue after hearing about the cowardice that led to his murder. Guy Gardner stops them and takes a few pages to lecture them about knowing how to use fear. It's a 'lesson' that's been taught every which way for years and it's lazy.

Peter J. Tomasi needs to step up his game. Green Lantern Corps was doing great, but mucking it up with legal drama is murdering it's reputation.


Thursday, May 17, 2012


STORY: Judd Winick
ART: Guillem March

I've never been a huge Catwoman fan, not as a villain or as an anti-hero. But I understand the appeal and I respect what the character has done for feminism (or anti-feminism, depending on who you ask) in the pages of Batman books over the years. I hesitated to read Catwoman when relaunched under the 'New 52', mostly because I was already reading a bunch of Batman-related titles and didn't want to overload myself on the Gotham Gloomies. I mean seriously, how many heroes can operate in a single city without running into each other on a regular basis? Apparently, at least eleven.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Catwoman #9 because it wasn't a straightforward "Night of the Owls" tie-in that just pits a Talon against Selena Kyle. Instead, the Talon in question is fleshed out to an appropriate length. Ephraim Newhouse was once an oddly duty-bound Talon whom the Court retired early (and naked) to atone for murdering British soldiers and losing his sacred knives. Now, the current Court promises Newhouse his honor restored if he assassinates the Penguin.

Simultaneously, Catwoman and Spark (her partner? Again, I haven't read Catwoman, so I'm assuming their friends and they work together - JM) are waiting for Cobblepot to leave his bar so they can steal a dagger with an owl head on the handle. When the Talon shows up to 'off' the Penguin, Selena considers it an unfair fight and takes on the Talon with Spark close behind her.

After a bunch of fighting, Judd Winick gets down to the real meat of the story; Newhouse's honor. The blade of concern for all of these characters was one of Newhouse's lost daggers, of which he desperately wants back. Selena has the rest and after another round of fist-throwing, the Penguin finally blows out Newhouse's brains. Catwoman leaves the corpse at the Batsignal for Bruce to pick up, but leaves Newhouse with his lost daggers as a sign of respect - and of good storytelling.


STORY: Duane Swierczynski
ART: Travel Foreman and Jeff Huet

Much like Batwing and Detective Comics a few weeks ago, Birds of Prey #9 doesn't bring much to the table for "Night of the Owls". Sure, it's got a little backstory for the 'Talon of the Week', but other than that, this issue's villain could have been anybody else. What I've noticed so far is that "Night of the Owls" tie-ins are effective when they add more to the overall Court of Owls mythology. Unfortunately, the Birds of Prey simply get jammed into the foray with little reason. Hell, Black Canary still thinks Batman is 'mythical'. Seriously? She's a superhero in Gotham City and is not certain that Batman exists? Whatever.

This issue's Talon has a handlebar moustache that connects to his mutton chops. It's a very perplexing image, a major juxtaposition to the Talons trained in martial arts and the like. This man seems like he's out of the Civil War, not only in appearance, but also in mannerisms and behavior towards women. Yep, the Birds get the only sexist Talon in the bunch so far because of course the Birds get the only sexist Talon in the bunch so far. A lot of Birds of Prey #9 feels forced, and that never makes for good reading.



STORY: Geoff Johns
ART: Jim Lee and Scott Williams

After a few 'interlude' issues, Justice League kicks off it's second story arc written by Geoff Johns and pencilled by Jim Lee. But - as most opening issues tend to be - Justice League #9 feels a bit light on true plot, instead focusing on different small groups of Leaguers that will eventually intersect in a later issue.

I was worried that Johns would feel pressured to feature the entire team together in most issues to satiate the desire for a full ensemble title - and for good reason. DC's pre-New 52 world was plagued with massive crossovers that ended up making no sense or not really affecting anything in the long run. Instead, Johns is writing Justice League like it should be: various squads tackling different situations. Batman, Superman, and Cyborg team up to quell a breakout at Arkham Asylum, while Green Lantern, Flash, and Wonder Woman go after Weapon Master. One of my favorite parts of the entire issue was Hal and Barry's spat about who was going to be the "bad cop" during Weapon Master's interrogation. It's moments like those that ground characters in a little reality and make them more relatable. Too often, writers forget to humanize their characters, and Johns consistently writes in-depth characterization.

By the end of the issue, both teams have subdued their targets and are trying to figure out just what exactly is going on. It all connects with Steve Trevor's disappearance. Both the Key and Weapon Master blame a man named Graves for their criminal outburst. The final pages are used to show Johns and Lee's newest villain hiding in the shadows as he tortures poor Steve and threatens to kill the rest of his family. Graves is not messing around and breaks Steve's hand to prove he's not a lighthearted villain in any sense of the word.

What's actually interesting about this new arc of Justice League is that Graves is a villain who has (supposedly, or at least seemingly) been wronged by the Justice League directly and wants to take his revenge. This is interesting because it's been quite a long while since there was a JLA story that actually connected to the League. More often than not, the League is called upon to handle situations like alien invasions, criminal masterminds, and worldwide catastrophes, all of which have no meaningful connection to the League. Mostly, the League is reserved for massive threats. Giving the team a more personal villain might be a fantastic way to give a little more characterization and depth to a crew that readers haven't yet received.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


STORY: Jonathan Hickman
ART: John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna

Finally, finally, things are moving forward a bit in Avengers vs. X-Men, a series that has, thus far, shown little more concept than, "let 'em fight!" which may not be a terrible idea on paper, but stretching it out to a whopping 12 issues was silly, as I mentioned a few weeks ago for my review of AvX #3. Fortunately, Jonathan Hickman's turn at bat has proven a much better experience than any previous issue, and it's mostly because the actual conflict is in the background.

A few panels here and there are dedicated to giving the readers a little overview of where all the troops are for both sides. Fights have broken out on Wundagore Mountain, Tabula Rasa, in Wakanda and Latveria, and even into the Savage Land. The beginnings of these bouts are explained throughout various tie-in issues over the Marvel imprint. Uncanny X-Men #12 shows how Namor and Sunspot got to Tabula Rasa to fight the Thing and Luke Cage, etc. Compartmentalizing these fights has given Hickman more room to flesh ou an actual story, which is refreshing.

Last time, Captain America kicked Wolverine out of a Quinjet and into Antarctica. A polar bear skin-clad Logan follows a trail of frozen beer - in a nice moment of humor - to Hope Summers who has come looking for Wolverine, even though last time they met, he tried to kill her. After a little time to herself to comprehend the scope of the alien entity coming to possess her, Hope now understands why everyone is going ape-shit over the Phoenix's return.

While the various fights around the world are going on, Iron Man is attempting to build a Phoenix killer - a weapon with enough cosmic might to take down a god - and Emma Frost psychically uses Toad to interact with Cerebra at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning in Westchester. This shows not only Cyclops' disrespect for Toad, but also his desperation in technically stealing from Wolverine. Hope recruits Wolverine to help her get to Earth's moon, where she hopes she can connect with the Phoenix and learn to control it before returning to Earth. Seemingly impressed by Hope's logical thought process, Logan comes along for the ride. And then, all hell breaks loose.

The showdown between the Avengers and the X-Men is staged on the moon's surface as Wolverine informed the Avengers to Hope's whereabouts as soon as they met in Antarctica, and Emma was able to find Hope using Toad and Cerebra. Like most situations in this series thus far, this face-off feels forced. On the moon? Seriously? Then Thor crashes down and the Phoenix shows up. Like I said, this issue finally gets some plot going, but it takes us to the moon and that just seems silly.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

(THE WEEK) MAY 15-21, 2012


Avengers vs. X-Men #4 (of 12)
(Hickman, Romita Jr.)
Wolverine is out of the Avengers! And his relationship with Cyclops is no better. What's next for everyone's favorite claw-snapping anti-hero? Find out!

AvX: VS #2 (of 6)
(McNiven, Gillen, Dell, Larocca)
The premier tie-in to Avengers vs. X-Men continues this week with Spider-Man vs. Colossus and Captain America vs. Gambit!

Birds of Prey #9
(Swierczynski, Foreman)
Bonus coverage as part of the "Night of the Owls" crossover event! I'll tell you if Gotham's premier all-female team fares better than Batgirl when it comes to engaging stories.
[featured as a mini-review with Catwoman #9]

Catwoman #9
(Winick, March)
Even MORE bonus "Night of the Owls" coverage following Selena Kyle as she gets her fur in a twist when owls infest her city!
[featured as a mini-review with Birds of Prey #9]

Green Lantern Corps #9
(Tomasi, Pasarin)
The "Alpha War" begins with John Stewart on trial for murder!

Justice League #9
(Johns, Lee)
Geoff Johns and Jim Lee begin their second arc, "The Villain's Journey".

Nightwing #9
(Higgins, Barrows)
This week is just chock-full of "Night of the Owls" coverage, and it continues with this month's Nightwing. More mysteries are abound when Dick meets another Talon with a connection to the Graysons.

Red Hood and The Outlaws #9
(Lobdell, Rocafort)
Last month brought Red Hood, Arsenal, and Starfire to Gotham City and "Night of the Owls" is keeping them there!

Supergirl #9
(Green, Johnson, Asrar)
Supergirl must team up with the all-new, 'New 52'-revamped Silver Banshee against the evil Black Banshee!

Wonder Woman #9
(Azzarello, Chiang)
Apollo and Ares have plans in store for Diana as she continues battling her way through Hell.


DC Nation for May 5
- Young Justice Season 2, Episode 4 - "Salvage"
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 12 - "Invasion"

Monday, May 14, 2012


STORY: Gail Simone
ART: Adrian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes

(Cringe). I actually started reading Batgirl back when it started last September. Unfortunately, Gail Simone decided - by, like, issue three - that Barbara Gordon needed a sassy roommate. Also unfortunate is the fact that these days, nobody seems to know how to write a female-based series without forcibly including some 'alternative' roommate or friend of some sort to give these heroes a semblance of a real life. It might just be me, but it felt like lazy storytelling. And so does Batgirl #9, the title's only issue crossing over with "Night of the Owls", and one that simply doesn't make any sense.

The issue begins in Japan in 1944 at a factory where a young girl named Ayumi is building giant balloons with other children her age. Eventually, it's revealed that these heavy-duty balloons were used to carry bombs across the Pacific Ocean to attack the mainland United States. Literally two full pages are given to Ayumi before we're transported to Haly's Circus in 1945 as a Court of Owls representative has come to take their next Talon. That era's Mr. Haly offers up a girl whose face was burned off by one of the balloon bombs from Japan during the war. Then - finally - Simone takes us to Gotham present to follow Barbara as she faces off against the female Talon from 1945. Four pages of random exposition are given before the main character of the book is even seen.

Then the balloon bombs show up? Simone never takes the time to explain if the Court saved the bombs from 1944, or if they built new ones, or whatever it was. The point is, these bombs just appear out of nowhere and that's jarring as a reader. Batgirl continues her fight with the female Talon and Batgirl falls of the ledge, hanging on for dear life. Instead of killing her, the Talon lets her live until they fight again and she wants Batgirl dead again. When Barbara finally does manage to take the Talon down, the girl uses her blood to write a message about masks and having them and such.

It's sooooooooooooo melodramatic. Gail Simone seems to think this sappy ridiculousness is good and it's not. I wish I had better words to use, but it's trite and this issue doesn't do anything to inspire a desire to read any more of Batgirl. The art was decent.


(DC NATION) MAY 12, 2012

Young Justice
Season 2, Episode 3

Last week, Young Justice followed Superboy, Miss Martian, and newcomer Beast Boy to planet Rann on a mission to discover how the Kroloteans stole and developed their own Zeta beam technology. While not a bad episode, per se, taking audiences to another planet to focus on three team members kind of stalled the momentum from the season premier. Fortunately, "Alienated" brings us back to Earth in a big way with an episode stuffed with revelations, reappearances, and new mysteries about the Krolotean invasion. Honestly, Young Justice may as well be called DC Comics: The Animated Series because the writers have integrated the Justice League so tightly. This is not a bad thing! In the comics, all these heroes would be crossing over into each others' books anyway, so why not go wild?

The Bat Family comes out in force this episode.
"Alienated" introduces a host of new elements that help get the ball rolling for this second season. M'gann, Superboy, Beast Boy, and Adam Strange return from Rann with information regarding the six Leaguers who went missing five years ago, and Aqualad returns in a surprising way. Also, the Legion of Doom makes a cameo.

The story goes that Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern John Stewart, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkwoman all savagely attacked the planet Rimbor into submission, claiming themselves the Justice League of Earth and to beware their might. In essence, the Kroloteans began to invade Earth in response to the League's declaration of dominance - a fine twist if there ever was one. Often, plotlines like this can feel cheesy or forced, but the writers are pacing themselves well so as to make it feel organic.

In the season premier, Martian Manhunter explained that the Kroloteans' language is so alien, it would take days to psychically pierce their language. Last week, Miss Martian basically lobotomized a Krolotean to procure information and does so again this week to extract info about a rendezvous point in case of discovery by the humans. The volcanic Malina Island houses a new ship being built to take the remaining Kroloteans on Earth off-world to retreat. This is where Aqualad fits in.

Sometime in the last five years, Aqualad defected and joined his father as the second Black Manta. Both Mantas are working with the Kroloteans in some regard and Aqualad is furious with the League and the Team. Aqualad's allegiance is a great game changer and his appearance in general finally brings some answers to the question of Aqualad's whereabouts. Then, just when you thought this episode couldn't get any better, the OG Black Manta contacts the rest of the Legion of Doom - including Vandal Savage - to discuss the invasion and the Light's involvment. Intense.


Green Lantern: The Animated Series
Season 1, Episode 11
"Fight Club"

Sorry! I was unable to watch this week's episode in time. I've been told Thanagarians are involved, so I'm a little peeved. I'll have next week's episode here, I hope.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


STORY: Geoff Johns
ART: Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, and Tom Nguyen

When it comes to Green Lantern, Geoff Johns likes his 'big reveals'. Each arc usually includes a single issue that delineates or decompresses all the hidden or alluded-to secrets in order to set up the inevitable climax in the second-to-last issue. With "The Secret of the Indigo Tribe", Johns gives 'revelation issue' duties to Green Lantern #9 by revealing the origins of the Indigo Tribe and the truth behind it's members.

Last month, Indigo One and the other Tribesmen had successfully converted Sinestro to their corps, brainwashing him until the Korugarian who once nearly brought the universe to it's knees starts apologizing to Hal Jordan. This is when Hal finally understands that the members of the Indigo Tribe are not taken willingly. Basically, the Indigo Tribe takes the worst criminals in the universe and converts them into guilt-ridden champions of do-gooding.

Hal goes off to find the Indigo's central battery to disable it when he meets the very old and very snarky Natromo, a name repeated by the Indigo's ever since their inception, true believers. Natty tells Hal all about how the Indigo Tribe started, how Abin Sur freed the planet Nok from slavers and found a well of indigo light - the essence of compassion. The people of Nok used the heat of the well to forge weapons that caused the victim to become "overcome with remorse". Abin uses the light to forge an indigo ring and slips it on Iroque (better known as Indigo One), the woman who killed his daughter.

And there it is - what took four two issues to build up was explained in five pages. While it might seem anti-climactic, Johns continues to write in such a way that everything that happens simply feels epic and meaningful. I don't want to sound like the origin of the Indigo Tribe aren't cool, because it is. Mostly, it feels rushed.

Fortunately, the final pages are so epic, the quick lead-in soon turns from a curse to a blessing. Apparently, Abin Sur knew pretty much goddamn everything, as he's the one - we are now constantly being reminded - who knew the Guardians were bad news from the get-go. As Natromo hears of Abin Sur's death, he decides to destroy the indigo battery and end the Indigo Tribe project he started with Abin Sur all those years ago. The good news is that Sinestro is freed and becomes a Green Lantern once again, the bad news is that the worst criminals in the universe are now all in one place, with two giant green targets with which to play.


Thursday, May 10, 2012


STORY: Scott Snyder
ART: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion

The shit has hit the fan.

Scott Snyder has spent the last year crafting one of the best Batman storylines in years - and it didn't involve a death of a main character! Snyder's Court of Owls is such a great metaphor for the unknown, the uncovered. This month puts Bruce right into the thick of the "Night of the Owls", first by finishing up his fight in the Batcave, then to save Lincoln March, a character Snyder developed fantastically early on in the series and is just now coming back...only to die.

Batman #9 is probably one of the least plot-heavy issues of the series to date, relying mostly on action sequences to push it forward. While this might normally be a problem, "Night of the Owls" continues on through issue eleven in Batman - while only crossing over with the other Bat books this month - so stretching out Bruce's plot isn't as detrimental as it could be. The first half of the issue is spent wrapping up the attack on Wayne Manor, pitting Mecha-Batman against a half-dozen Talons. Alfred is dropping the cave's temperature as fast as he can to counteract the Talons' regenerative abilities and the Bat-Gundam is slowly being torn to pieces. 

Of course, the Talons finally freeze and Bruce makes his escape to go and save Jeremiah Arkham - a plot point added at the eleventh hour - before going after March. Bruce's visit to Arkham Asylum is depicted in the pages of last week's Detective Comics in rather dull detail. Fortunately, March's panels at the end of the issue are superb, and while his time in the Batman universe has been brief, he was such a good foil to Bruce that I still felt upset when he died. His last words are about how great Gotham can be, telling Batman to make sure Bruce Wayne knows that the dream shouldn't die. It's probably one of the best emotional moments in the series so far, and it simply pushes Bruce past the edge.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


STORY: Peter J. Tomasi
ART: Lee Garbett, Andy Clarke, Ray McCarthy, and Keith Champagne

First off, I want to apologize for not writing up reviews for Batwing and Detective Comics last week. I know I said I would be covering all issues of DC's 'New 52' connected to Batman's "Night of the Owls" event, but those two issues were downright boring. I understand the desire to want an Bat Family-wide crossover to it's fullest, but those two titles felt soooo forced, I just couldn't write enough about them - good or bad - to justify a review.

That being said, Batman and Robin #9 is a much better (if not great) chapter in the "Night of the Owls" saga, one that sees Robin on his own in a surprising new light: commanding officer. Damien's role in the counteroffensive against the Talons takes him outside Gotham city limits to find and protect Major General Benjamin Burrows, and it just so happens Burrows is running night drills with his troops.

Damien goes into military mode, barking orders and setting precise formations to best defend against the undead assassin. It's a little confusing, how Batman and his allies so readily put others in the line of fire to protect others. Basically, Robin is forced to outrun the Talon by leaving foot soliders behind to slow it's advance - a decision Damien knows will lead them to their death. I understand that Burrows is a target and that his status makes him a key player in Gotham, but it seems negligent to allow soliders to be slaughtered in a scenario they weren't ready or trained for. Of course, this could be exactly how Peter J. Tomasi wanted to play it.

The story falls apart, somewhat, when General Burrows' family history is injected. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington promised a large sum of land to Edwin Wilkins. When Wilkins was taken by the British, this specific Talon was called upon to murder Wilkins and his family to secure the promised land for the Court of Owls. The Talon was successful with all but the youngest Wilkins son, who somehow survived and was adopted by the Burros family, making General Burrows the last surviving descendent of Edwin Wilkins. Now, this Talon asked to come after Gen. Burrows to finally complete the mission he was given over 200 years ago.

This connection between the Talon and Burrows would make a whole lot more sense if Burrows still owned the land, or anything like that. In the flashback, the Talon even says that the Court eventually took control of the land, so why does he care so much about killing Burrows? It doesn't make much sense and pulls down a book that was pretty damn good up to that point.



STORY: Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco
ART: R.B. Silva, Rob Lean, and Iban Coello

It came as no surprise to me when I found Superboy #9 to be one of the best issues of the series. While Scott Lobdell still finds ways to make really silly mistakes, those instances are minimal this issue. This month, Superboy, Teen Titans, and Legion: Lost are all part of "The Culling", a crossover event that pits the Titans and Legionnaires against Harvest and his team of Ravagers. Superboy #9 stands as Part 2 of the four-part epic, giving it a 'will-they-wont-they' approach to the fates of these kids against a psychopathic paranoid monster.

The Titans and Legionnaires - along with other, unaffiliated metahuman kids like Beast Boy and Terra - find it difficult to work together, let alone trust one another, a sentiment that can be easily felt by readers who pick up Teen Titans every month, but not Legion: Lost, or vice-versa; if you don't readily recognize these characters, you find yourself agreeing when Red Robin doesn't want to include the Legionnaires in his strategy, for example. The actual 'Culling' is basically your "Battle Royale" scenario - most famously grafted onto a post-apocalyptic world for this year's infamous The Hunger Games - where the children are forced to fight each other to the death in order to see who has what it takes to join the ranks of Harvest's Ravagers.

"The Culling" storyline began last week in Teen Titans Annual #1 and served mostly to introduce (and in some cases kill off) characters like Terra, Beast Boy, Artemis, Thunder, Lightning, and others - all of whom had some connection to the Titans before the Flashpoint event. Superboy #9 takes the next logical step and features the main battle between the teamed-up Titans and Legionnaires squaring off against Rose Wilson and the other Ravagers.

My opinions concerning origin stories and Lobdell's handling of the Titans and Superboy thus far set aside, if you're going to pump your titles full of fights, you better make them awesome and in the case of Superboy #9, they are. Basically, it boils down to Superboy vs. Warblade and Red Robin vs. Rose Wilson with a few other heroes helping out here and there. By the end of the issue, all the other Ravagers have been taken out, and Harvest descends to take on all the teenaged superheroes by himself. It's a pretty awesome moment to end on and leads directly into Legion: Lost #9.


PS - Seeing as Legion: Lost #9 is the third act of "The Culling", followed by part four in Teen Titans next week, I figured I could give you a little information about LL#9  if you don't regularly read it, just in case you want to know what's happening when you pick up TT#9 next week.

Basically, Legion: Lost #9 is an issue-long battle between the combined forces of the Teen Titans, the Legionnaires, and the other Culling participants against the awesome power of Harvest, who seems to be deflecting and countering any and all attacks made against him. Also, the issue is littered with instances of Harvest referencing the 31st century, knowledge of the Legion, and Bart Allen's true history. In fact, Harvest explains that the Legionnaires were never lost - he had called for them. In many respects, LL#9 makes it seem like "The Culling" is more or less the endgame to the origin story for the Titans, Superboy, and the lost Legionnaires, providing a platform with which to reveal secret information, make or break alliances, and finish up all this ongoing-epic stuff that has lasted a whole 9 issues for all three of these series.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


STORY: China Miéville
ART: Mateus Santolouco

Dial H is officially one of my favorite series of DC's 'New 52'. Kelly Thompson over at ComicBookResources probably puts it the best when she explains how, "Miéville's writing reminds the reader (perhaps unfortunately) that there's no reason comics can't be written this well all the time."

Miéville is, by trade, a 'weird fiction' author whose off-kilter spin on fantasy and sci-fi can sometimes be a bit much even for entrenched fans of said genres. Dial H represents the best ideas of literature and the written narrative transferred to a graphic medium. Miéville treats his readers like the adult readers they are (at least these days). I've often cited my distaste for Scott Lobdell's work on Superboy and more recently Teen Titans, and Miéville's style is pretty much the exact opposite. Readers are made to actually work to understand a concept and story instead of it being shoved down their throat.

Dial H takes the classic Dial H for Hero concept and rewrites it for the 21st century, taking the cheeky style and turning into one of the darkest, most intricate tales in quite some time. Basically, there's this mystical phone booth that transforms normal people into superheroes for a short time when they dial H-E-R-O on the phone. In this first issue, our hero - an overweight slacker named Nelson - becomes the slender, skeleton-like Boy Chimney, The Child King of Emissions, then later, the emo Captain Lachrymose. If this sounds weird, it is, and reading through the first time might be completely confusing. Dial H definitely demands multiple reads to fully experience the events to their fullest.

But that's what comics should be! Why spend $3.99 for a single issue you'll read once then look at for the art? It seems absurd and Miéville is making an excellent case for a step up in the level of narrative quality among mainstream comic books.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


STORY: James Robinson
ART: Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott

Here it is! The first review from "The Endless Reel" covering DC's 'New 52: Second Wave'! I wanted to start things off with James Robinson and Nicola Scott's Earth 2 #1. Fans have been clamoring for the Justice Society since DC the 'New 52' relaunch came with no mention of the heroes of yesteryear (except for Mister Terrific). Obviously, DC has answered those fans with a series built around not only the Justice Society, but about an entire parallel universe.

Earth 2 #1 kicks things off spectacularly with a brief history of the Apokolips War - a conflict similar to the one faced by the Justice League of the 'primary' Earth, except the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman from Earth 2 sacrifice themselves to end the war and save the planet. The first five pages alone depict the three pillars of DC against an unending army of Parademons. It's actually quite incredible that Robinson is able to make Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all likable and emotional investment-worthy within the span of 20 pages. It's sad that these three main characters won't be around going forward, but it means we get to see that much more of Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, and the the rest of the JSA.

Earth 2 also sets up another Second Wave series being debuted this week, World's Finest, starring Power Girl and Huntress, a.k.a. Supergirl and Robin of Earth 2. Batman's task involved infecting Apokolyptian technology with a virus from within one of their communication spires. After the virus caused all the alien technology to start malfunctioning, Supergirl and Robin take off after Steppenwolf (the leader of Apokolips, as far as we know) through an unstable boom tube.

The final pages of the issue are dedicated to giving readers a bit of the retooled backstories for both Alan Scott, who is the owner and CEO of G.B.C. Media, and Jay Garrick, a recent college graduate with no plans for the future and a girlfriend who dumps him for a better life. Already, it's quite obvious that the Justice Society is going to be a parallel to the Justice League instead of their forefathers.



STORY: Ed Brubaker
ART: John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna

After what amounted to a pissing contest followed by an issue of little-to-no plot, Avengers Vs. X-Men is finally on-track to deliver a cohesive story. Ed Brubaker takes the reigns for issue three, and he does a fantastic job raising the level of discontent between the two warring factions.

Wolverine acts as the audience surrogate, waking up hours after being cooked by Hope Summers at the end of issue two. Spider-Man informs Logan that the X-Men have surrendered and Captain America is trying to get everything in order again. Logan immediately knows something is up and attacks Cyclops, which turns out to be a mystic projection from Magik masquerading as Doctor Strange. This scene is the first of two important ones dedicated to piling on the distrust between the two sides. It's worth mentioning the press release given out by the X-Men's publicist in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #11. In it, Cyclops explains how the Avengers - and the US government, by proxy - considers mutants to be 'less than' even after everything the mutant community has given back to the world, and waxes poetic about being treated like property instead of people. It's a powerful element of this event that I'm quite surprised wasn't included in the main series. Either way, Magik's fake-out serves as a proverbial smack in the face to all the Avengers. Add in an argument between Iron Man and Captain America about the legitimacy of the Avengers' mission, and you've got a great first part of the issue.

The second important scene is between Captain America and Wolverine onboard a Quinjet discussing Logan's rogue behavior on Utopia. Cap believes Logan is too involved, too close to the situation to make rational and logical decisions. Wolverine, on the other hand, knows the Phoenix force better than most and feels he has to do anything in his power to stop it. After a quick fight, Cap orders the jet's cargo doors open and throws Wolverine out. It's quite obvious that the Captain had this planned all along, that he's had a contingency for Wolverine in place for quite some time. Seeing this side of Captain America is a little chilling - he's (only somewhat) turning into a Batman-esque character who has a coordinated plan of attack against any of his fellow Avengers...just in case.

So far, it seems like Brubaker has the best hold on the plot of this series. It's difficult to express discord between friends in a comic in a meaningful way. Fortunately, Avengers Vs. X-Men #3 made up for a lot of the pitfalls I saw in the first two issues. If Marvel can keep the narrative moving as smoothly as the giant, orchestrated fight sequences, this series might just be amazing yet!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

(THE WEEK) MAY 2-8, 2012 [update]


Action Comics #8
(Morrison, Ha)
Grant Morrison takes us on a WILD ride through 3 different tales of alternate-universe Supermen, including President Superman! AWESOME!

Avengers vs. X-Men #3 of 12
(Aaron, Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Hickman, Romita Jr.)
Marvel's premier summer event continues into the third issue of the main series! After the fallout in issue 2, what will come of the conflict between Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the the world's mutant population?

Batwing #9
(Winick, To)
"Night of the Owls" continues! Special issue coverage! Batwing fights for his life against the Talons in Gotham!

Dial H #1
(Mieville, Santolouco)
Internationally renowned author China Mieville reboots the classic Dial H for Hero concept for the 21st century! Part of DC's 'New 52' Second Wave!

Earth Two #1
(Robinson, Scott)
The Justice Society comes to the 'New 52'! Follow the stories from an Earth parallel to our own! Part of DC's 'New 52' Second Wave!

Justice League International #9
(Jurgens, Lopresti)
The JLI must face O.M.A.C.! Includes a special crossover with this month's Firestorm: The Nuclear Men.

Teen Titans Annual #1
(Johns, Benes, et. al )
DC's first 'New 52' Annual issue! "The Culling" finally begins - it's the Titans and Superboy vs. Legion Lost!

World's Finest #1
(Levitz, Perez)
Follow the adventures of Power Girl and Huntress - both from Earth 2! - as part of DC's 'New 52' Second Wave! Why are these two heroes stuck on our Earth?


DC Nation for May 5
- Young Justice Season 2, Episode 2 - "Earthlings"
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 10 - "Regime Change"