Thursday, February 9, 2012

Unbridled Capitalism: Borderlands Sale 2012

Last weekend was the Borderlands Big Annual Sale once again.  And as has been the trend lately, it was pretty miserable weather-wise.  Cold and damp, with a light rain as we were standing outside, I think most of us wanted to get inside just to stay dry more than anything else.  Sure it wasn't the ice storm from a few years back, but it still pretty bleah.  

Once inside, it wasn't much of a rush for me since once again I was not buying any miniatures.  I did partake of the action figures, picking up 5 vintage GI Joe toys for 50 cents apiece (for those who are interested: Straight-arm Rock n' Roll, BAT v.1, Sea Slug, Dice, and Dojo), but mostly went through the "$5 Trade" table and of course the 3/$1 bins.  

All in all it was an odd sale.  Neither me nor many of my friends were really into combing through the discount bins because a lot of us loaded up at the trades table.  And the wet and cold weather meant everyone was wearing coats and such, so it got very warm and very uncomfortable very quickly.  So I didn't go through every single discount box like I had in years past.  Which was alright, since we got out of there and did some damage at Mr. K's before heading back to the house for a shrimp boil.  

Still, had a good haul all told.  Here's what I picked up.

The Flash: Slowly but surely I am buying up my Pre-Crisis Flash collection.  Heck at some point I will actually read it (besides the Showcase volumes, anyway).  Out of the discount bins I pulled Flash v.1:no.242, 247, 275, and 287.

GI Joe: Since I have nearly all of the collected editions of the Marvel GI Joe series, I typically don't buy single issues.  But in this case I couldn't pass it up -- GI Joe: Order Of Battle #1-4 for 33 cents apiece.  The Order Of Battle series was the Joe version of Who's Who or OHOTMU, with two issues devoted to the Joes, one to forces of Cobra, and one to the various vehicles and hardware.  Pretty freaking sweet!  I also grabbed (off the $5 table) the vintage GI Joe: Special Missions trade, which collects the first four issues of Special Missions.

Oddball: I got a lot of random or otherwise unusual comics this time out, so I am just sort of lumping them altogether.  House of Mystery #269 has a cover which pretty much screams that NOTHING WILL EVER BE AS AWESOME AS THIS.  Teen Titans Spotlight #8 features Hawk, so I had to buy it.  Similarly, Marvel Premiere #45 stars Man-Wolf, and since I think I have the other part of the story, I owed it to myself to buy it.  I have been really digging the Mark Evanier Blackhawk so grabbing issue #271 was a given.  

I also managed to snag three oversized books out of the 3/$1.00 bins which surprised me.  First up was the Masters Of The Universe: The Motion Picture novelization.  What's interesting about this book is that it doesn't seem to use the movie designs, but instead uses the traditional toy/cartoon imagery.  Which is a plus to me!  (Marvel was publishing a regular MOTU series at the time, so this makes sense.)  Secondly, I got the square bound Amazing Spider-Man: Soul Of The Hunter GN.  I haven't read "Kraven's Last Hunt," so this should be interesting reading.  And finally, the one I liked best, I pulled Uncanny X-Men & The New Teen Titans!  Pretty swank stuff, this one is towards the top of my reading pile.

And the most odd of the oddball: The Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing, the 2010 edition.  I found this on the very small "$1 trade" pile, much like I found... 13 volumes of Cerebus last year.  I guess I am the only Sim fan in town!

$5 Trades: And now the meat of the money I spend (well, in addition to the Green Lantern bookends I picked up for Adama), the $5 trade paperbacks.  First up, I got Watchmen, which I actually have read before.  Once.  But I did dig it, so I figure it's good to have it on the bookshelf. Up next is The Dark Knight Returns, which as I mentioned earlier in the week, is going on my To Read pile, so I can read another one of those 80s stories which I have never read.  Finally, I picked up Avengers: Operation Galactic Storm v.1-2!  These were a swanky find considering their list price, and the fact that I think I only have the Iron Man issues of this story, which I have heard very good things about over the years.  

Like I said, a good haul.  DKR is coming with me on my business trip, and the oversized comics might as well.  I always enjoy the Borderlands Sale, but lately I have more fun just hanging out with my pals and watching MST3K and Alligator on DVD.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Looks Good?

Well, being as this is Wednesday and all, I was going to make a post about which comics looked good to me this week.  Standard comic book blogging stuff, right?  Well, that was the plan anyway.

The plan was then derailed because after looking over the Previews shipping list for this week, there are no comics I which I am buying!  I can't remember the last time this happened to me.  Usually there's at least one which sneaks in there, but it's a shutout this time out.

This does have a certain benefit, however.  I can use this time to tell all of you nice folks that I am not sure what kind of schedule I will be keeping for the next few weeks.  I am heading up to beautiful West Grenwich, Rhode Island for business, which is one of the many places one never thinks they will visit until they end up working here.  (You can also put Springfield, MO, Rockland, MD, and Bay City, TX on that list.)  I am supposedly getting a laptop some time today for the trip, and I should have internet access at the hotel.  So it may turn out that I can actually be more frequent with my posting.  Of course, it may not work out.  So it's sort of up in the air right now.

I have listened to some of the comments here regarding The Dark Knight Returns.  In a stoke of good luck, I found it this past weekend at the Borderlands Big Annual Sale (report forthcoming... as soon as I remember to bring my comics punchlist and notepad... grr...) for $5!  So I will be checking that one off of my "To Read" list shortly.  Do you folks want me to handle that like I did Crisis, and give you a blow by blow of my opinions while reading?  Let me know.

Also, I have threatened to do it and I may still do the same thing for... Contest of Champions!  (I need to find a copy of Secret Wars to keep this trend going.)

In any event I want to try to get more regular content... hrrm.  I want to get content on here more regularly (much better!), even if it is only a few days a week, and not just the same easy posts all the time.  Since the Crisis series I have tried to make even the easy and newsy posts a little more meaty and more worthwhile reading.  So hopefully you folks have appreciated my efforts.  

Uh, so what looks good to YOU?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Looks Good?

It's Wednesday once again, as it always seems to be in the middle of the week, which means its time for more 4 Color Goodness in the form of comics!

Hawk and Dove #6 -- I have to read #5 first, but this issue holds a special interest for me because this issue is written by Rob Liefeld -- meaning that it will serve as the first of three "try outs" of a sort for me to read his writing style before he takes over on The Savage Hawkman.  I said I was going to give him a fair shake and that starts here and runs through the end of this title two issues down the road.

Men Of War #6 -- Another DC title kicking the bucket shortly, this one has been a pleasure to read but I can't say I am surprised to see it not be super successful.  For one thing, I think it would have been better off had it been just a straight War title; the story in issues #3 and #4 was excellent, but the mix of military and sci-fi seemed to put people off.  Of course these are the same people who "didn't get" the SEAL backup in the first three issues, so who knows?

OMAC #6 -- The third of three DC titles I am buying this week which is ending at issue #8, this one will be probably the most missed just because it is the most fun book I read every month.  I read #5 last night and it was one of the best "two characters brawl for the length of the issue" comics I have read in a few years.  Hopefully DiDio and Giffen will at least bring the character of Kevin Kho to a satisfying conclusion (for now).

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #175 -- While the mainline Joe books get most of the attention online, this title is consistently one of the best reads I buy each month.  Hama can just plain write GI Joe, and he's doing month in and month out.  The last issue featured one of the best running armored battles I have seen in a long time, and the Blue Ninjas plot is really shaping up as well.

Charmed #18 -- The only comic I buy which my wife also reads, this is a good expansion and continuation of the TV show.  There was a great dig at the much maligned character of Billy and her sister (who's name I can't be bothered to look up) a few issues ago which betrays the target audience for this book -- which is fine with me as I have seen every episode of the show!

Futurama Comics #59 -- I finally sat down and watched "Season 5" (I thought the 4 movies were "Season 5?") of Futurama a few weeks back, and it's like the show never went away.  Of course, part of that is this series right here, which really delivers the goods for a Futurama fan like me.  

So, what looks good to YOU?

DC Announces 'Before Watchmen' Series

From Newsarama, we have the official announcement of DC's upcoming Before Watchmen event, with 7 prequels to the seminal superhero epic.  The titles are:

Rorschach (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
Minutemen (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Comedian (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
Dr. Manhattan (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
Nite Owl (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
Ozymandias (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
Silk Spectre (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner

For reference, I have only read Watchmen once, and that was in 2009 (yes, it was before the movie came out!).  So while I enjoyed the story I do not have the history with it that some of you may have.

First off, I have to say that if DC is going to do any more Watchmen material, going the route of a prequel is probably the smartest decision you could make while still using the known Watchmen characters.  A sequel offers too many options of where you can go, and, frankly, considering the ending of Watchmen itself, it would be difficult to craft some sort of coherent storyline in that sort of setting.  with a prequel, you are in the same "box" which George Lucas was in with the Prequel Trilogy; you have to wind up at the Start/Finish line (so to speak).  Whether this allows the creators enough leeway to tell compelling stories or not, I don't know.  We'll have to wait and see the final products to be able to judge that.  

As for said products, they're a wide assortment to my eye.  Azzarello seems like a good match for Rorschach, and pairing him with his Joker GN collaborator Lee Bermejo is a sound play.  Azz should handle the grit and violence quite well.  Similarly, he is a good draw for The Comedian.  I can see JG Jones bringing the same sort of pulp feel to that title as he did to DC's Doc Savage.  I think that works.

Amanda Conner is a strange choice to my mind ONLY because of how visually different her stuff is that Dave Gibbons; that having been said, I can't wait to see what her take on Silk Spectre looks like.  Not sure about Darwyn Cooke handling the writing chores on that one, though.  Not who I would have thought DC would have pegged.

On the other hand, Cooke on Minutemen has me intrigued.  I'm imagining that thematically and visually this will be very close to New Frontier, as, I am sure, DC wants me and my fellow fanboys to imagine.  There could be some real meat to that series.

The most compelling of all of these is the Len Wein/Jae Lee team on Ozymandias.  I found Ozy to be the most compelling of these characters when I read the series just from his duplicitous nature and supreme self-confidence.  Wein still has the chops to write in today's market and I am eager to see his take on such a flawed character.  And putting Jae Lee on art is a choice which has me anticipating seeing preview pages.  Lee's work is so stylized and unique, so I definitely want to see how that translates to Ozy.  (Had you told me that Lee was working on one of these series but not told me which one, my guess would have been Rorschach -- the almost graffiti like style in his work would be a good fit for him.)

The two books by JMS don't hold much interest for me, unfortunately.  Nite Owl drawn by the Kuberts should look pretty amazing -- I'm envisioning Nite Owl truly as a Batman allegory -- but Adam Hughes on Dr. Manhattan is less clear.  I have never seen him do much work on the male form -- much less the nude blue male form -- so I don't know what to expect.  JMS is hit or miss with me, so I am hesitant no matter who the artist.

In any event I think it is pretty clear that DC is putting a lot of effort and talent behind these series and wants them to be a big hit.  One of the most inane (comic book related) conspiracy theories I had read was that DC wanted to make more Watchmen material and have it be poor to somehow "get back" at Alan Moore.  Don't ask because I haven't figured it out myself.

So, what are YOUR thoughts on Before Watchmen?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Looks Good?

Time keeps marching on, and with it, comics keep on getting released, like clockwork.  Amazing to me that my kids are not going to know what "clockwork" means.

Creepy Comics #7 -- I really like this book, but it comes out so irregularly that I routinely forget about it.  Still, can't be black and white horror comics!

Aquaman #5 -- With the Trench defeated (for now), it's time for Johns and Reis to show us what they have in mind for Aquaman and Mera next.  Reading this series reminds me of the "old days" (*cough*) of reading JSA in trade or Johns' Flash monthly when I was college.

Blackhawks #5 -- Unfortunately, this book has been cancelled as of issue #8, but I for one liked the idea of building a new Blackhawks team.  Hopefully they will find somewhere else to appear in the New 52 DCU.

The Flash #5 -- One thing I have come to count on with the New 52 is that this book is going to look amazing every month.  I am also enjoying the story, with Barry trying to "think fast" rather than just "run fast," and the strange new baddie Mob Rule.

The Savage Hawkman #5 -- Changes are coming for this book, but for now I am very much looking forward to the next story arc, involving "everyone's favorite" Hawkfoe, the Gentleman Ghost, and a legion of the undead.  (I put that in quotes because while I like the Ghost, he's not my favorite Hawkfoe.  That honor goes to Shadow-Thief!)

Archie #629 -- You wanted the best!  You got the best!  This inane crossover has been a lot of fun so far, with KISS showing up in Riverdale to battle a crew of unusual monsters, including a Valley girl mummy and a very... emotional vampire hunk.

Robocop: Road Trip #2 -- Dynamite's Robocop series sort of ended on a weird note, so I am glad to see them at least finishing the story up.  I'm a sucker for Robocop, and the Dynamite series was a worthwhile read, so I am excited to get ahold of this one as well.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mars Attacks Coming From IDW

Classic trading card property (and personal favorite) Mars Attacks is coming back to comics thanks to Topps and IDW.

Newsarama reports that writer John Layman and artist John McCrea will be launching a new ongoing Mars Attacks series as part of the original card series' 50th anniversary.

Long time readers will know that I am a big fan of the Mars Attacks cards and was even serializing it here for a while.  (I should pick that back up...).  As a kid, I was a big fan of Dinosaurs Attack!, and only when I was older did I learn the connection to Mars Attacks and get into those as well.  Besides the ongoing series, IDW evidently will also be collecting some older material, including the 1994 miniseries which I ate up back in the day.  That series was unique in that it presented two stories (with a flipbook format): one dealing with a modern day invasion of Earth, and the other set in the 1960's.  Also interesting is that while Keith Giffen wrote the modern story (with art by Charlie Adlard), he drew the nostalgia story (with Len Brown handling the writing chores).  For some reason a story about Martians invading the planet and causing violent mayhem seems a good fit for Keith Giffen.

One strange note is that the first issue will have 55 covers, one for each of the original cards.  Huh, I wonder if I will be able to pick which one I want?  There's a ton of choices but Watching From Mars has always made me laugh!

I only know John Layman from one title, but it's one which fills me with good feelings: Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths, also from IDW (and the subject of my latest episode of Earth Destruction Directive).  If he handles Mars Attacks with the same sort of gusto and panache which he brought to that miniseries, we should be in for a treat.  Artist John McCrea has a huge body of work, but I don't know if I have ever seen much of his stuff.  That having been said the preview image from the article looks pretty darn amazing, so there you go.

No date has been announced for the series, but I am sure IDW will hype the heck out of it (as is their custom) when it is solicited.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reading Crisis: Index

Response for my 13 part Reading Crisis series has been overwhelmingly positive.  I am glad that my reading of Crisis on Infinite Earths through fresh eyes has been enjoyable to so many of my friends and fellow comic book fans.

I've decided to make this index post so that the whole series can be accessed from one spot and make life easier on me when providing links.

Reading Crisis: Prologue

Reading Crisis, Part 1: The Summoning

Reading Crisis, Part 2: Time And Time Again!

Reading Crisis, Part 3: Oblivion Upon Us

Reading Crisis, Part 4: And Thus Shall The World Die!

Reading Crisis, Part 5: Worlds In Limbo

Reading Crisis, Part 6: 3 Earths! 3 Deaths!

Reading Crisis, Part 7: Beyond The Silent Night

Reading Crisis, Part 8: A Flash Of The Lightning!

Reading Crisis, Part 9: War Zone

Reading Crisis, Part 10: Death At The Dawn Of Time!

Reading Crisis, Part 11: Aftershock

Reading Crisis, Part 12: Final Crisis

Thanks again to everyone who gave me feedback and encouragement and hopefully I can give other series the same treatment in the future!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 12: Final Crisis

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 12: Final Crisis

Darkness!  Amazing how in a story which has included everything from living shadows to whole universes being consumed to worlds and beings made of antimatter, something as simple a pure darkness can be the most unsettling and scary thing.  This plays on the some basic human psychology -- fear of the dark.  The "true world war" which erupts afterwards is equally impressive, thematically connecting with all of the fights against first the Shadow Demons and then the villains across the various Earths.  It's one more chance for Perez to showcase as many characters as he can!

Speaking of which, Geo-Force in Markovia!  Yeah baby!  

I really liked Harbinger grabbing the two Supermen.  Because let's face it, these guys need to be front and center when all the chips are down.  I don't have anything clever to say about this, just that I appreciated this scene getting put in there.

I have to say that seeing Brainiac and Darkseid together (coupled with the Brainiac and Luthor interaction from previous issues) is all very "Super Powers Collection" to me! I would chalk this up to the fact that I was a little kid in the 1980s and had the Super Powers Lex Luthor figure, and I think my brother may have had Brainiac.  So when I think of those characters, this is who I see them, very often.  Of course, Darkseid doesn't have his cape so it's not perfect.  Speaking of Darkseid, I did like that his appearance actually means something in this series, unlike some of the other asides which were handled in other titles.  

I also liked that everyone has some role to play -- this has been one of the central themes of the series.  A trope which gets trotted out a lot when talking about superhero comics is that "everyone is someone's favorite," and this series is evidence to that point.  Even if it's only for a panel, Wolfman and Perez try to give everyone that they can a little spotlight.  

The other theme which ties into this is the heroes "vast and great powers dwarfed only by their infinite courage."  Again, pretty standard superhero themes but sometimes the obvious choice is the right choice.  In the context of all of the death and destruction on display, it means something and it resonates with those of us who love superheroes.

Speaking of death and destruction, while there is a lot of carnage in this series with all of the Earths destroyed, when you sit down and reflect on it, there really wasn't that many character deaths in this series.  I compare this negatively to Infinite Crisis, where there's wholesale slaughter of characters in several scenes.  Here, the deaths of the characters are sacrifices, and have an impact on the reader.  Compare this to how the Freedom Fighters are ripped apart in the beginning of Infinite Crisis and we see how far we have come.  And I like Infinite Crisis, too!

The final battle on Qward builds on the previous Anti-Monitor battle, and takes it in a new direction at the same time.  I always like a big superhero brawl where the heroes have a plan and execute it properly.  Of course, that doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of thing, but seeing everyone working the plan was impressive.  

The Anti-Monitor like The Terminator!  He's got more lives than a bag of cats.  I like how he gets more and more monstrous with each time that he comes back, until he finally is little more than a ball of living fire (akin to to the Fire Monster from the end of Destroy All Monsters, in my mind).  Similarly, the increasing level of Earth-2 Superman's attacks and anger was impressive.  The final extended encounter with the Anti-Monitor, besides being a great capstone for the series, is also a catharsis for all of the readers, who have seen Anti-Monitor wipe out universes for 12 issues and cheat death time and time again, in addition to wiping out lots of favorite heroes.  When Superman finally destroys him for good, it's a huge release.

Honestly, I am actually shocked that Pariah doesn't die!  Not sure what the heck this guy can do from this point onwards, but I have to admit for a character I actively disliked at the start of this series, he has grown on me by this point.  At least he has stopped crying.

Looking back on the series, there is one thing I can say: This book delivered on its promises.  Worlds lived, worlds died, and the DC Universe never was the same again.  But beyond that, this series also delivered on being the most epic of widescale superhero epics I have ever read.  I don't think I have ever read a 12 issue story which involved so many different characters, settings, plot points, twists, and sweeping changes and retained it's ability to both entertain as well as make sense.  Other than a few points here and there, I could follow along just fine.  And Wolfman managed to make all of the characters "sound" right while Perez of course made everyone look great.  Its the sort of one-in-a-million combination of creative collaboration, storyline, and editorial gravitas which I don't know if we'll see in comics again.  One can hope that at some point we'll stop rehashing things from the past and create something which builds upon the past but forges creatively fresh ground like we do here.

I don't know that I will pick this up and read it again casually, but, for instance, when the Two True Freaks! get to Crisis on Infinite Earths in their Tales Of The JSA show, I will be reading along.  

I'm glad that I put it out there that I had never read Crisis, and I am thankful for Andy Leyland for sending me his trade paperback so that I would have the chance to read it.  I can strike this off of my Comic Book Bucket List, and now, hopefully, The Irredeemable Shag will respect me.  I have read Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I hope that this blog series will serve as inspiration for anyone else out there who has not done so to seek out this book and read it.  As a comic fan, you owe it to yourself.

Not the end; the beginning of the future.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 11: Aftershock

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 11: Aftershock

Alright, I LOVE the opening with one Earth and Earth-2 Clark Kent walking to Perry White's office.  That scene was so well paced and organized that even though I knew what the gag was going to be I found myself reading faster and faster to see how it would play out.  Great way to open the issue and to introduce the readers to the concept that there is only ONE Earth now.  I wonder, did a lot of fans guess this twist?  Or was this a huge punch in the gut to readers?  I was 5 years old when this came out so I have no idea.  Anyone out there have anything to share?

Artwise, the shot of the single Earth floating serenely in space was directly referenced in Infinite Crisis... maybe in Final Crisis, too?  I don't remember as I have not re-read that one.  It's a simple shot but useful.  On the other end of things, I didn't really care for the cover, which was too busy.  Maybe a throwback to the old Silver Age style covers which used this sort of trope?

As a Flash fan, I also marked out for the "Twin Cities" sign for Keystone and Central City.  Especially as someone who started reading Flash during Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn's run, where the idea of the twin cities was important, seeing it for the "first time" was a real treat for me.  Of course just having Jay and Wally together is fun for me for much the same reason.  

A shot which gave me a big belly laugh: Earth-1 Superman Tugging on Earth-2 Superman's cape!  Well played, Wolfman and Perez!

The sequence with Huntress & Robin was very cool as well, much in the same vein as the Kal-L scene from earlier.  These are not characters I have any particular affection for, but the way in which Wolfman illuminates Helena's grief (coupled with Perez's facial work) is very compelling comics.  These are issues which are not always addressed in these sort of crossovers so having it be at the forefront is very appealing.

I liked the investigation of Brainiac's ghost ship, although I am not sure what purpose it serves.  What's up with that?  Post-Crisis, Brainiac became Milton Fine right?  So he wasn't a robot again for a long time.  So yeah, needless to say I am confused but only because I am familiar with the later version of Brainiac.  And for the record, I like this robot version a good deal more than the Milton Fine version.  He was cool in Panic In The Sky! but I like the coldly logical automaton from this series a LOT more.

Unfortunately, the scene with Dr. Fate, Etrigan, and Amethyst was pretty much worthless for me as I am not an Amythest reader.  I have heard good things about the series but this is akin to the Omega Men stuff from a few issues back which simply has no meaning for me.

When Harbinger is retelling the new Earth's history, the appearance of the historical genre characters made me smile.  Both as a great reminder of the characters from earlier in the series as well as keeping those classic characters in continuity without question.  As a fan of genre comics, that made me happy.

Cave Carson!  You have to love any time Cave Carson pops up!

This issue did not have much in the way of action but in one sense it was one of the most satisfying issues of the entire series.  The emotions on display are grand without being hammy, and the ramifications of what went down last issue are given their appropriate context and weight.  It's all been building up to this, and I cannot wait for the finale.

Next: Final Crisis!  

What Looks Good?

We're taking a break from our Crisis coverage for the weekly update on what comics I' ll be buying this week!

Tiny Titans #48 -- The Tiny Titans... unmasked!

Wonder Woman #5 -- Diana is on a mission and she's pissed, but what does Ares think about it?  And what is Apollo's plan?

Invincible Iron Man #512 -- Last issue featured the Mandarin and the return of the Living Laser, so it seems that Fraction and Larocca are now actively courting me again.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 10: Death At The Dawn Of Time!

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 10: Death At The Dawn Of Time!

Well, The action is better this time out than in the last issue.  We get to see some better balance between heroes and villains, and less emphasis placed on the tie-ins.  Overall it felt like a better paced series of action scenes than what we got last time out.  Black Adam turned to crystal was a nice scene which would never happen in the modern DCU.

Ha!  I knew Psimon wasn't powerful enough to stop Brainiac!  Woo woo woo!

Good to see the Spectre subplot come to fruition, although I have never liked the cliche of "everyone stops fighting just because some big guy says so."  A lot of these villains would be consumed with bloodlust and probably keep on attacking their foes.  But if you need everyone to stop fighting this is the sort of go-to trope for it and at least the Spectre is someone powerful enough to back it up.

I liked the callback with Anthro.  I had a sneaking suspicion about the pink energy wave but once I saw it with Anthro it all clicked in my brain, "Oh yeah -- time warp!"

I had to laugh when Superboy-Prime literally comes out of nowhere.  Because we don't have enough characters to juggle at this point, obviously.  But I do have to say, the footnote which we get when he arrives is really important as far as I am concerned because it illustrates the importance of footnotes.  That little footnote tells me that the story was told somewhere -- unlike nowadays when most of the time you have to guess whether the character really did just pop in or if there is some other adventure which fills it in.  So even though I am 99.44% likely never to read that story at least I know it's not just a random "hey throw this guy in there" bit.  

I read the Monitor Files after reading the main story.  Is this the correct order?  I didn't really take much from this strip (although I liked the artwork and the use of the comic strip format), although I did like the bit about the Thanagarians turning violent in a time of crisis -- how typical, heh.  

One element which I am still unclear on is who's hand it is that Krona sees at the beginning.  God?  The Anti-Monitor in some sort of temporal anomaly?  It's unclear.  Personally I am going with God just because, well, Creation is sort of His thing.  

Man, Sam Scudder went down like a punk.  Arguing with Icicle of all people?

It was also nice to see Pariah get exonerated, but I still suspect that he's going to make a heroic sacrifice before this series is over.  It's part and parcel with a character like that.

This issue was a good deal better than the last one.  For one thing, the plot moved along in a more logical direction.  The villain uprising proved to be little more than a roadblock, and you can tell by reading the issue, I think.  Having the Anti-Monitor's last plan be revealed really helps this comic shine.  (Especially since he pretty much told us he had one more trick up his armored sleeve.)  The stakes are raised once more and the story gets its momentum back.  And you can't beat an ending like that!  We're definitely in the home stretch now!

Next: Aftershock!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 9: War Zone

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 9: War Zone

When I was driving into work this morning, I was sitting a light about to make a turn and what did I see?  The skies were red.  Clearly someone up there likes my work on this blog series.

Anyway, after the slam-bang of the death of the Flash last issue, we are off to a slow start with this one.  There is a lot of setups for characters and tie-ins I am not really interested in (GL, Titans, Firestorm) and have no real intention of ever tracking down or reading.  This is a common criticism of modern big crossover epics, so I am little surprised to see it applied here in such a manner.  Did contemporary readers really think the main crisis was over?  

The "super-villain team-up" segment of the story was an uptick for me if only for the always fun "spot the character" game we have had on this series.  (Of Hawkman badguys, I only managed to spot Matter Master; Copperhead is more of a latter-day Hawkfoe.)  I also liked Brainiac killing Luthor of Earth-2 to put over our main baddies as dudes you don't want to mess with.  Similarly, the tightly packed pages of panels with the implications about the three Earths being conquered is very subtle and effectively creepy.

Unfortunately things sort of come off the rails after that.  The scene at the UN is boring and pretty unbelievable, really, even amongst the insane goings on of this story.  And then the dispersal to the conquered worlds by the heroes is really sort of by-the-numbers sort of superheroics.  I don't know, but it just didn't get me excited the way some of the bang-ups have earlier in this series.  Honestly, the big desperate battle played better to me in Infinite Crisis.  I am going to catch flak for that but that's my opinion.  (By the same token, I can now also say that yes, the timing of the big supervillain battle in that series is a direct callback to this series.)  

Luthor's corny narration doesn't help.  Him calling Brainiac "pal" gets a little strange after a few instances.  I liked how the different worlds were conquered in different ways (Earth-S being frozen by the ice villains, for example), and there were some nice scenes (Dr. Phosphorus trying to murder the Earth-2 Hawkman!), but overall it left me flat.  An odd note: When Warp teleports Steel "someplace else," I think that I have actually read that story -- it's in an issue of Justice League of America which I actually own!

One note I should say is that the return of Wally West was very welcome.  This is where it all starts, huh?

I will say that the twist surprised me quite a bit.  I thought that the figure hiding in the shadows was the Joker (the chin and the "Ha ha ha!" being the clues), but it obviously wasn't him when he showed up on Earth-X.  So having Psimon pop up out of the back was funny and a surprise.  It's also funny to see Psimon and Brainiac together because I read Tiny Titans, and any Tiny Titans reader knows that Psimon gets called "Brainiac" by every single character in that series, much to his chagrin!  Although I have to ask: Is Psimon really powerful enough to blast the robot Brainiac like that?

Another odd note: the last page teaser with The Spectre from last issue is not mentioned anywhere in this issue.  Too strange!

Anyway, this issue had some highlights but overall was not nearly as good as the previous two.  It's sort of a padding issue, puffing the story out so that they can hit that magic number '12.'  I'm hoping that the all-out war between the heroes and villains will be played out and that we can get back to the high levels of the previous issues.

Next: Death At The Dawn of Time!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 8: A Flash Of The Lightning!


Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 8: A Flash Of The Lightning!

Well, first off I have to say that the Anti-Monitor looks much more familiar in his new duds. I liked the monstrous form he had earlier, but this is his classic appearance.

The stuff with Apokalips, the Legion, Blue Devil, and the Omega Men seem to be introducing new subplots to help the story move in a new direction. I have to say that this series has had a lot of twists and turns in there. It's not as straightforward as I had thought it would be from everything I had read about it. This really is several major threads as part of one epic overall plotline. I dig it. It would be hard to 12 issues (in this writing style anyway) without some variation in there. And as I have said several times in this blog series, the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor are playing chess, and in chess you don't concede after your first gambit is defeated. So I am on board with this choice.

That having been said I don't have much interest in the Legion or the Omega Men at this point of the story. I did appreciate the extended cameo from the Challengers of the Unknown. I was wondering when they would pop up (after who we have seen so far, I assumed that they would at some point).

The Atom exploring the inside of Red Tornado of course reminded this Silver Age Avengers fan of Ant-Man exploring the inside of the Vision. I mean, that's just a classic comic book trope, and one I like to boot. The scenes on the Satellite are well rendered and interesting, but I still don't understand what the heck is going on with the Tornado and that is frustrating. One little bit I liked: Firestorm generating water to pour on Manhunter after the explosion and fire.

The Anti-Monitor is building a cannon? Apparently he is a school of the super villain school of thought which says "When in doubt, build a giant cannon."

Of course it all becomes very clear that the cannon, at least in this issue, is immaterial. It really is just a plot device; it could have been any sort of machine, really.

Now then, the Flash. From start to finish I loved this sequence. Now, unlike the Supergirl sequence last time, I am a big Flash fan, including the Barry Allen version. So seeing the Scarlet Speedster leap into action is familiar for me. And the way he is characterized here -- quick-thinking, decisive, clever, brave, determined -- that's the Barry Allen I know from all of those Pre-Crisis issues of The Flash I have in my longboxes upstairs.

As a Flash fan who began reading during the Waid/Augustyn era, this scene is often referenced. And so while I knew what the scene was and what happened, I am very, very glad to have read it for myself and see how Wolfman and Perez had Barry go out. Looking back on it, of course this death was "going out like a champ." How else would Flash go out?

The entire Flash sequence had me rivetted. As a Flash fan, this is where it's at. It's stuff like this why I will always dig Barry Allen and his classic adventures.

And now I have to ask: what's up with Spectre all of a sudden? He was fine a few issues back.

This issue was fairly two-faced (not Two-Face'd). On the one hand, a lot of the short scenes were fairly uninteresting to me (I mean, the bit with Darkseid and Desaad was cool because I like Darkseid and Desaad, but it didn't add much to the narrative here), but the major scene of Flash sticking it to the Anti-Monitor and sacrificing his life to save the multiverse was one of the best superhero bits I have read in a long time (right up there, ironically, with the Supergirl stuff from last issue). So at first I was a little down on the issue, but now I am impressed.

Next: War Zone!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 7: Beyond The Silent Night

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 7: Beyond The Silent Night

My first thought upon seeing this cover in the trade paperback is "Well, sh*t just got real in here."  My second thought is that can you even imagine a cover like this being used on a series nowadays?  I can't imagine the fanboy outrage over "Spoooooilers!" right on the cover like that.  You folks old enough to remember when this was released -- was the cover image advertised a lot before the issue was released?  Did people get mad over the spoiler?  Or maybe think it was a fake out cover?  I'm really curious now.

The issue starts off with the inevitable data dump from Lyla and Pariah.  This was totally necessary because at this point we're more than halfway through this event and still did know what the heck the Anti-Monitor's deal was -- in fact, heck, we didn't really know what the Monitor's deal was!  So the "Show and Tell" was something of a necessary evil.  The actual story gets a little lost in here for me.  I mean, I don't have any trouble following it as Wolfman tells it here, but it's very blatant to me that this is trying to rectify a lot of past continuity into one short passage.  I'm also a little confused as to Why the Anti-Monitor is created before the Monitor?  Wouldn't that make the Anti-Monitor just the Monitor and the Monitor (being the opposite of the original) the Anti-Monitor?  I know I am being cute here but this is a logical fallacy to me.

The story told by Pariah I liked a lot more.  Pariah has finally started to grow on me as a character and not just be a whiner.  As a scientist who oversteps his bounds and unleashes cosmic destruction, and then has to atone for his sins for all eternity, the Kirby traits are starting to get fast and furious.  Even his look, using his green cape dramatically (not unlike the Spectre) is winning me over.  It seems like he is destined for some rough fate in the coming issues, though.

The short character scenes this time out are a mixed bag.  I like having Braniac and Luthor confirmed as picking up all of the bad guys.  Perez is at it again with the Brainship, giving us one more excuse to see him draw this awesome vehicle.  The bits with Wildcat didn't do much for me, but I liked all of the little vignettes of the different Earths.  Firestorm also has what might be the line of the series so far when he refers to "Fetus Marvel."  

Of course in this installment everything is building towards the siege of Anti-Monitor's asteroid fortress.  And this sequence does not disappoint.  Seeing the force of heroes put together is enough to make any DC fanboy's eyes go all agog.  And personally I like seeing Martian Manhunter in there.

Interestingly, when Alexander Luthor (who, unlike Pariah, I'm still pretty ambivalent towards) opens the portal, Perez seems to be channelling a little bit of Jim Starlin in the cosmic stuff.  This is not a complaint.

Once the battle begins, everything hits the fan, as expected.  This is big, bombastic, insane action in the manner which only comic books can achieve.  For all of the drift we have gotten making comics more like movies, this sequence alone illustrates that comics work best when they are played as comics, because the medium has a lot of advantages which others cannot and most likely never will be able to duplicate.  A lot of modern writers could learn something from this.

Maybe it's me but in my mind the Anti-Monitor's voice is a high-pitched, robotic, shrill voice.  Don't ask me why.  that's just what it is.

Now then: Supergirl.  To be completely honest, the Supergirl I knew and read about in DC was the Matrix Supergirl.  So the Pre-Crisis Supergirl was pretty much a non-factor in my mind for a long, long time.  I read a few stories with her here and there, but I still always thought about the Matrix Supergirl when I heard the name.  I never had much reason to care about her.  This issue has changed that.  Maybe that's a cliched response, that this is the "best Supergirl story ever" or some such.  But I challenge anyone to read this issue and not come out saying "You go Supergirl!"  Wolfman makes us intimately care about Supergirl in the span of a few panels when she comes to Superman's rescue, and then we are very shortly enthralled with her battle against Anti-Monitor.  She goes out a hero of the highest order.  This story is a legitimate classic.

Her death also gives Wolfman an opportunity to give us plenty of character bits which I really loved.  Perez's art plays a big role in this too as his art is so evocative that the panels make a real impact.  Scenes such as Batgirl giving the eulogy, Dr. Light seeing the light (no pun intended), Lady Quark looking on with disinterest, and Brainiac-5 breaking down are all fantastic little moments.

All I can ask now is how can there still be 5 issues left after this?

Next: A Flash Of The Lightning!

DC Comics Drop 6, Add 6

We take a break from our COIE coverage for breaking news!

DC Comics has announced that 6 of their New 52 comics are ending at issue #8, and 6 new comics will be taking their place.  As I had previously predicted, OMAC, Blackhawks, and Men of War are all ending, but, more surprisingly, Hawk and Dove is also getting cancelled.  All of which stinks, but honestly not all that surprising in the grand scheme of things.

Of the new titles being added, two of them immediately leap out at me.  Earth 2, by James Robinson and Nicola Scott, is set on (you guessed it) Earth 2 and features the Justice Society.  So that obviously has my interest at first blush.  The other one is a complete no-brainer: G.I. Combat, featuring three features: The War That Time Forgot, The Unknown Soldier, and The Haunted Tank!  Okay, yeah, you got my money on that one, DC.  Especially when one looks at the creative teams (WTTF has JT Krul and Ariel Olivetti; TUS has Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Dan Panosian; and HT has John Arcudi and Scott Kollins),

There's also a new volume of Batman: Incorporated by Morrison, which may feature the Outsiders (since we were essentially told that at the end of Outsiders), but I am leery of reading Batman by Morrison, as well as an Outsiders book without Geo-Force.  This second point is an assumption on my part; if Morrison is continuing with his previous setup, then Brion wouldn't be present.  Then again, Katana is hanging out with the Birds of Prey and not the Outsiders, so who knows.

Anyway, sad to see four of my favorites end (five if you count the soon-to-be-finished Tiny Titans), but excited about some new stories as well.

What do you think?  Sad to see these books go?  Which of these new ones look good to you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 6: 3 Earths! 3 Deaths!

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 6: 3 Earths! 3 Deaths!

Well, my first thought is that Psycho-Pirate got what he asked for!  I don't know why he thought that having an entire world's emotions to control (let along three!) wouldn't basically fry his brain.  I do like Flash hanging around, biding his time as well.  Barry's a smart cookie after all.  Also interesting that Anti-Monitor echoes The Monitor in that he had other options besides Psycho-Pirate.

One little note here: The Anti-Monitor (or "Monitor" as he still is referred to here) has different word balloons.  Previously, he had the white letters on the black balloon, but now he has normal black-on-white balloons.  

In the meat of the issue, instead of temporal wonkiness as we previously had, now we have interdimensional wonkiness.  Which is fine, considering that Earth-X, Earth-S, and Earth-4 are the crux points this time out.  It also gives us a great opportunity to see Wolfman and Perez show off these alternate universe characters.  It's great to see classic Captain Atom, Peacemaker, and the other Charlton characters, the Marvels, and the Freedom Fighters.  Although, I have to say, Earth-2 Hawkman could take Black Condor, so I am chalking that up to Carter Hall being surprised by the attack.  Also, I really liked the sequence where the Marvel family shows off their power.  Really makes those characters look impressive.  Oh yeah, Dr. Light -- still a jerk.

I have to ask: Who is the guy with the wings?  I thought it was Dawnstar on the satellite but then it's a man on Earth-4.  So I am confused about that.

The Earth-4 scenes also give us Katana vs Judomaster! Heck yes!  I'd really like to see an all-out fight between these two.  I especially liked Judomaster calling Katana a member of the Axis.  Yeeouch!  

A very interesting  little scene had the villains disappearing from Earth-2 -- I can only assume that this has to do with Brainiac & Luthor?  Speaking of which, while I thought it was odd that Brainiac and Luthor have a conversation without us seeing either of them, I cannot complain too much since it meant that we got to see the awesome Perez shot of the Brain ship!  Between this subplot and the little off handed mention of Darkseid and the New Gods, there seems to be some stuff percolating under the surface here.  Not sure how all that is going to play out but clearly there is a lot of story left here.  

The new Wildcat looks a lot like a more muscular Catwoman, which I guess is kind of part and parcel with having a female in a full body cat suit with ears.  I am not familiar with this character at all since I did not read (and have not read) Infinity, Inc., but like Dr. Light, getting launched in the biggest DC Comics series of all time is a pretty good start!

This issue is essentially similar in purpose as the previous issue -- like Monitor with Earth-1 and Earth-2, here Harbinger has to save the other three Earths.  These Earths clearly are "special."  There's not much of a cliffhanger, but we do get a heck of a teaser for the next issue!

Interestingly, we are now at the halfway point of this story.  We've gotten plenty of cosmic carnage and world's being destroyed and merged together, but we have not gotten a lot of the wholesale death and destruction which (to me anyway) has always been the cliche about this series.  Perhaps that's coming in the back half?  I compare this to most modern superhero crossover epics which like to throw some character deaths up front to "grab" the audience.  I'd rather have a high concept to grab the audience like we do here rather than wiping out some B and C-Listers.  Of course, you can do it like Blackest Night, which has a high concept, and then wipes out a bunch of characters in the first issue anyway.  

In any event, I liked this issue.  It's a fairly straightforward comic, with the heroes split up once again to do battle with a bunch of guest stars while the (Anti-) Monitor does a lot of manipulation behind the scenes.  I dug this issue on the merits of the guests alone, but overall it was quite good.  Next issue promises to be a doozy.

Next: Beyond The Silent Night!

What Looks Good?

We're taking a short break from our Crisis on Infinite Earths coverage to bring you our regular weekly dose of comic book suggestions.  This wouldn't be a very reputable comic book blog if we didn't do this every week.

Kull: The Cat & The Skull #4 -- Kull has been lured to the Forbidden Lake as the Snake Men make their move on Valusia!

Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE #5 -- Frankenstein versus OMAC!  

My Greatest Adventure #4 -- Garbageman tries to get to the bottom of the mysterious goings on at Titan Chemicals!  Robotman takes on a giant beast!  And Tanga takes on an even MORE giant beast!

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #174 -- Will Cobra Commander have his revenge on the killers of his son?  And can the Joes and the remnants of the Oktober Guard repel the column of HISS tanks in Benzheen?

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 5: Worlds In Limbo

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 5: Worlds In Limbo

Now we're getting to some real "meat and potatoes" George Perez stuff, as he gets to draw rooms crammed full of lots and lots of people -- time to play spot your favorites!  And if you have a character or characters from DC published at this time, chances are you can find him or her in there somewhere.  (I don't think the Haunted Tank itself is in there, but I am almost certain that I can spot Jeb Stuart).  I also like how Wolfman gives a nice cross-section of chatter and crosstalk to the folks present, adding a certain realism.

Speaking of which, man, Dr. Light is still a jerk, isn't she?  And furthermore, I understand that part of the theme of this issue (as we see later with Wildcat) is that everyone has a role to play, but in the grand scheme of cosmic destruction, do Penguin and Riddler really offer much in the way of assistance?  What is the Penguin going to do, spray gas on the anti-matter cloud from his umbrella?  Is Riddler going to stump the cloud into submission?  At least Monsieur Mallah can be put to good use carrying the Brain around.

So, besides picking out all the characters, The Monitor still is playing games.  A question: How did he record the message before Lyla came if he wasn't sure if it was going to work?  Seems like he was awfully sure of himself.  But then again, he's been mostly right so far.  The idea of a limbo universe contained inside The Monitor is yet another seemingly Kirby inspired idea; appropriate when one considers that a lot of the major new characters in this story also seem to be Kirby style creations.

As an aside, I have to say that I absolutely loved seeing Sgt. Rock taking the Monitor's satellite and all the weirdness completely in stride.  

During the temporal wonkiness, we get confirmation once again that dinosaurs make everything better!  I like the craziness, although the explanation that Monitor "made every calm" is sort of a cop-out.  Admittedly, if not for this cop-out then this point alone would probably take another 10 issues to resolve, so this is probably for the best.  A little sad to see Killer Frost's love of Firestorm pass, to be honest.  It was starting to grow on me.  Also very nice to see both Lana Lang and Lois Lane as TV reporters!

There's a really short scene here which I really, really liked.  We see an older couple who sees their daughter, only their daughter had died years before.  We the reader find out that they are seeing the ghostly image of the Earth-1 counterpart of their daughter.  Very often in these giant epics, we lose touch with what the common man is going through, and I thought in the span of two panels that Wolfman and Perez demonstrated the phenomena of the two Earths merging.  This really stuck with me.

I still have to ask: What's happened with Red Tornado?  Was his android body part of forming the revealed Anti-Monitor's body, perhaps?  Or am I way off base?  Speaking of which, Anti-Monitor looks like a real monster here!

This issue was obviously a change of pace from the previous issues, which was intentional I assume.  I liked the continuing temporal inanity, and all of the little character moments, juxtaposed against the bigger cosmic stuff as well.  The big bad is revealed and the threats keep growing.  I have a feeling that things are going to be coming off the rails for the heroes very shortly.

Next: 3 Earths, 3 Deaths!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 4: And Thus Shall The World Die!

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 4: And Thus Shall The World Die!

Wait, what happened to the cliffhanger?!  Well, that was sort of a cop-out, that Harbinger wasn't super ready to kill The Monitor.  At least it does get resolved later in the issue.  

Anyway, the Supergirl and Batgirl conversation was really nice, and it mirrors the Superman/Batman conversation from a few issues previous.  However, this scene does unfortunately demonstrate how insanely impractical Supergirl's costume is for fighting crime, or just flying around in general, as Perez nearly gives us an upskirt shot.  But I liked the two of them talking as there is a certain charm to seeing the two of them palling around.

This issue unfortunately introduces the first instance of the cliched criticism of this series in the scenes with Pariah with Lord Volt and Lady Quark.  I have absolutely no idea who these characters are or why I should care beyond the fact that Pariah teleports Lady Quark away.  But as far as to what importance these character have, I've got nothing.  Looks like I will be off to Wikipedia.

The whole Dr. Light origin story seems like an odd interlude.  Is it wrong that her origin makes me think of Golden Pharaoh from the Super Powers toys? And, yeah, Dr. Light is a real jerk.  The scene with her yelling at the Teen Titans and Outsiders in Japanese seems designed to make her unlikeable, especially when paired off with Earth-2 Superman.

I love Firestorm in this issue.  He and love-struck Killer Frost's banter is great, and Firestorm's remark wishing that Psycho-Pirate could have made her fall in "like" with him instead and that would have been fine made me laugh.  The short appearance from Shining Knight made me smile, too, and made me think of his time on Justice League Unlimited.

This issue gives us our first Hawk-sighting, a cameo by the Earth-2 Hawkman and Hawkgirl.  Woo!

I had no idea that Red Tornado had any real role in this story.  That element has my interest piqued.

man, Pariah does a lot of crying.  I want this guy to man up at this point.  And unfortunately, The Monitor makes the same mistake which super-geniuses always make by being too cryptic instead of speaking plainly.  The death of The Monitor is something, but what comes afterwards is a substantially bigger impact, with Earth-1 and Earth-2 being vaporized into nothingness, fading to white, and then fading to black.  The "white out" reminded me of Zero Hour, which looking back at it now is a clear callback by Jurgens.  I mean, you're a third of the way through your series and you destroy the two main Earths on which DC published comics take place?  That's called throwing down a gauntlet.  I can imagine grabbing this from a comic shop in the days before the Internet, then reading it and going completely insane.  

Overall, this issue was less enjoyable than the first three in one way (too much with characters either just introduced in this series or otherwise unknown to me) but just as enjoyable in another way (how can you not like the annihilation of Earth-1 and Earth-2?!)  This one has a hell of a cliffhanger and that alone makes me want to see where the heck we go from here.

Next: Worlds In Limbo!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 3: Oblivion Upon Us

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 3: Oblivion Upon Us

The opening scenes with The Monitor and young Luthor didn't do much for me while reading this.  I think that is because it is part of the larger story when really I wanted to get back to the matter at hand!  I did like Lex Jr.'s question of "What if I can't help?" and Monitor's lack of response.  That was a nice beat.

I have spoken about this before but I am loving the use of black space in this series, seen here when Harbinger and Psycho-Pirate talk to their shadowy master (still assuming to be the Anti-Monitor).  Perez, along with his inkers Mike DeCarlo and Dick Giordano (...really?) have done an amazing job with the blacks.  Harbinger is become a much more interesting character as we go, since she serves her master but also seems to do the will of the Monitor at the same time.  Plus her look is growing on me; like Pariah she looks like a character Jack Kirby would have designed.

It seems that the Outsiders and Teen Titans will always be inexorably linked.  Maybe it's the Batman/Robin thing?  In any event it's great to see two of the most popular teams of the 1980's working together, especially considering that they are all drawn by George Perez.  Wolfman makes sure that everyone has a role to play and that those roles make sense (such as Halo rescuing the little girl from the building).  I have to ask, though, what was Jericho's deal with stopping Batman?  Did he know that Bats would be in trouble if he tried to get Flash out of the field?  It's hard to say because obviously Jericho's not talking.  (Yes, I went for the pun.)

Similarly, Brainiac and Lex Luthor also seem to be tied together.  Not sure what it is about those two but they always seem to be teaming up in some way.  Didn't they debut their "new looks" (showcased here with Brainiac's robot body) in the same comic?  And right around this time we're getting "Whatever Happened to the Man Of Tomorrow?," with it's Braniac-Luthor "team-up" as well.

I totally marked out for seeing all of the War characters together as well as all of the Western characters together.   I am a big fan of DC's genre books and characters, and this sort of attention being paid to them makes me smile.  A lot of time in modern crossovers, if a genre character shows up it's for a throwaway gag or an extended cameo.  Here they are all front and center and sound reasonably accurate to their regular personas.  Bat Lash getting thrown out of the saloon, for example, could have been cut and pasted out of a Lash comic.  (Jonah Hex referring to Jon Stewart as a "colored man" make laugh as well.)  I loved seeing the Losers, even if they met their fate, along with Sgt. Rock, Easy and the Haunted Tank to boot.  Just having all of the genre characters given a chance to shine alone makes me very happy.

Geo-Force is much more on point personality wise this issue.  Of course, putting him in Markovia when it is under siege by the Third Reich will showcase Brion's personality very well!  It's worth noting (for me anyway) that Geo-Force uses his powers like Terra at one point -- at this stage, his powers always seemed to include the earth manipulation in addition to the gravity and lava blasts.  (He does get to use the gravity as well.)  The way that Dr. Polaris responds to Geo-Force's anger was a nice touch.

Watching The Monitor pulling Blue Beetle and Solivar out of their respective time periods makes it abundantly clear here that he is really playing chess with the multiverse.  

I really liked this issue's focus on genre characters mixed in with the superheroes.  Definitely can't wait to read the next installment.  (I really like the copy hyping the next issue: "This is the Big One!"  Because clearly we have been only small potatoes so far!  *ulp!*)

Next: And Thus The World Shall Die!  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 2: Time And Time Again!

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 2: Time and Time Again!

The temporal wonkiness from the beginning of this issue reminds me of the temporal wonkiness from the beginning of Zero Hour, which was the first "crisis" I ever read.  I am assuming that Jurgens put that in as a nod back here, whether consciously or otherwise.  I am also now convinced that Dr. Polaris was in Infinite Crisis solely as a wink from Geoff Johns back to his presence here.  Furthermore, having Anthro and Kamandi in the same book, gee, I wonder where Grant Morrison got that idea from in the first issue of Final Crisis?  Funny how you find the precedents for later works when dig back into history.

I liked the scene on Monitor's satellite (including Firestorm telling Killer Frost to stop groping him, heh!) because it gives Wolfman a chance to show us everyone's character and do the plot exposition at the same time, something the best writers of this era were always good at.  (Besides Wolfman, Claremont and Barr also spring readily to mind.)  Earth-2 Superman especially rings true.

One character who seems somewhat strangely handled is Geo-Force.  He initially argues with Psimon that they have to hear the Monitor out, then the next page is threatening to leave.  Not sure if this is Wolfman using him as a mouthpiece, or a very subtle demonstration of Brion's personality ("I'll hear you out... okay, I think you're lying.").  Either way I think it's amusing that the two people he interacts with (Psimon and Cyborg) are the two which he met in the Outsiders-Teen Titans crossover which featured a pre-COIE Monitor appearance.

I am very glad to see some follow up on the stuff with Harbinger being corrupted, because it makes a lot more sense in this issue than the last.  I'm still a little confused on exactly how it worked but I can buy it with some hand-waving.  Monitor still sounds like a fortune cookie but that's his thing.  I think I knew that Alexander Luthor aged rapidly, but looking at the panel the first time I thought Perez just drew the baby too big!

The two temporal adventures were pretty short, I am guessing mostly to get people in place.  Kamandi mistaking Solovar for an ape from his time period made legitimately laugh.  The bit in Atlantis was mostly a setpiece to get Psycho-Pirate on the other side of the board but I thought it was neat to see the sword & sorcery stuff.

Another enjoyable (albeit short) scene was the meeting of Superman and Batman in Metropolis.  While I understand and can appreciate the merits of having Superman and Batman not trust one another, there's something inherently charming and enjoyable about having the Big Two being colleagues like this.  It also makes perfect sense in the plot; if Batman thinks the world is in danger, he's going to contact Superman first.  

I am not sure what to make of Pariah.  He seems like a character Jack Kirby would have created, especially in his VERY DRAMATIC MANNER OF SPEAKING!  I figure he has got to play a role later on in the story but for now he seems like an oddball anomaly.

As far as art, Perez's stuff looks amazing so I am only going to point out stuff I really like.  The first shot of the Great Disaster with Kamandi climbing the tower was gorgeous, as was the final page with Harbinger's face superimposed on the universe.  I also really like the subtle work with Psycho-Pirate's facial features, and the general use of black space, in space itself, when the Anti-Monitor (I assume?) abducts Psycho-Pirate and  with Obsidian at Atlantis.

Overall, I thought this issue did a really good job of introducing Monitor's plan and getting things into motion.  But more enjoyable to me as a reader was the shadow stuff going on with Harbinger, Psycho-Pirate and Anti-Monitor (again I am assuming), especially the threat at the end that "When I am done, all his universes shall be destroyed... while mine shall rule supreme!"  Pretty chilling stuff.  Big thumbs up on issue #2.

Next: Oblivion Upon Us!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 1: The Summoning

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 1: The Summoning

Well, every story has to start somewhere, and when your story starts at the beginning of all creation, well, one can assume that you have a pretty big story to tell.  Perez's art is darn pretty throughout, but I liked his take on the Big Bang and the formation of the Multiverse, along with his panel layout choices, especially on the spreads.

Wolfman is definitely getting things into motion here but he doesn't waste any time in getting to the meat of things.  I loved the scenes on Earth-3.  I read years ago that the Crime Syndicate were the first super-powered folks to be wiped out because they were the Justice League analogues.  It's an obvious choice but it really works well seeing the faux-Justice League eradicated.  I also really liked the Superman symmetry with Luthor and Lois.

Seeing Firestorm and Killer Frost together is funny, because Shag over at Firestorm Fan just gave us a rundown of the ladies who have used the Killer Frost name on a recent episode of The Fire And Water Podcast.  Blue Beetle's introduction was great as well.

I didn't understand the bit with Harbinger and Arion... was she possessed by some shadow spirit or something?  It was confusing to jump to Arion, cut away, and then jump back.  Still not clear what happened there.

The bit with Batman, Joker, and the spectral image of The Flash was really well done.  The Bat stuff was just pitch perfect 80s Batman, but then you throw in this ominous visage of Flash and then things start getting weird, and you know I like weird stuff.

I had no idea that Geo-Force was in this story.  I'm sure he is here just to represent the Outsiders, but it was a nice surprise nonetheless.  Of course, he does sort of get the short end of the stick, with no scene of Harbinger recruiting him and no dialogue during the battle with the Shadow Demons.  He doesn't even rate the front cover!  But hey, Geo-Force!

Speaking of the Shadow Demons, I didn't see the point of that scene other than to throw an action sequence in there.  The scene itself is well composed but ultimately seemed tacked on.  Maybe it will be more important next issue?  To be fair I did like the dialogue with Arion and Doctor Polaris.

Overall I thought this issue was a lot different than I expected it to be.  Yeah we had the cosmos-shaking stuff but a lot of the story was personal and "small."  Its different than most of the mega crossovers we get now.  Maybe that's part of the charm, or perhaps the lack thereof for a lot of the modern stuff.  So far I am digging it and I want more.

Next: Time And Time Again!

Reading Crisis: Prologue

Would you, my illustrious readers, believe that I have never read Crisis on Infinite Earths?

Well, it's true.  But I am about to change that.

Over on the Two True Freaks! message board, there has been a lot of COIE talk over the last few months.  I made it known that I had never read the series, and asked if that hurt my credibility (yeah right).  My pal over in the UK Andrew Leyland (he of the awesome podcast Hey, Kids! Comics, which if you are not listening to YOU NEED TO BE LISTENING TO) got wind of this and, in a move of excellence the likes of which has rarely been duplicated, gave me his copy of the COIE trade paperback!  

Now I am going to document my first reading of this epic storyline.  I am going in with only the vaguest of notions of the story, the broad strokes which every comics reader knows.  The details will all be new to me.  And I hope you will enjoy my take on this seminal work as I read it for the first time.  

Next: The Summoning!

What Looks Good?

Yeah I disappeared for a while there.  I am a comic book blogger, after all.  Also: comics.

Hawk and Dove #5 -- Were Condor and Swan only the beginning?  And what is Dawn's secret?

Men of War #5 -- I'm still just in awe that we have new War books being published by DC Comics.

OMAC #5 -- I don't know how long this book is going to be published but I am loving every minute of it!

Godzilla Legends #3 -- A year ago if you had told me Titanosaurus would star in a comic book, I would call you a lunatic.  And yet here we are!

Charmed #17 -- Cole has found Prue, but what does Rennek have in mind for the Halliwell Clan?

Robocop: Road Trip #1 -- After the ongoing series was unceremoniously dumped, I'd like to see where the story goes from here.

So, what looks good to YOU?