Sunday, January 31, 2010

Crisis On Earth-Blog: The DC Challenge

Welcome to the DC Challenge... hope your survive the experience!



The following is a brief on the nature of the disappearance of intelligence agent codename: The Unknown Soldier.

Three months ago, Soviet troops captured what is believed to be a U.S. citizen traveling alongside the railroad through the Levashovo Settlement in Leningrad. This individual, self-identified as "Paul Raymond," claimed to be a defecting scientist. No documentation on this statement has been found. At the insistence of Raymond, troops searched the area for and located a device Raymond claimed he had absconded with from a U. S. weapons development operation. Again, there is no supporting evidence for this claim.

Raymond was questioned by the Soviets' newly formed Committee for State Security (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti; herafter: K.G.B.,) and after some weeks, convinced them of his intention to reveal classified information about U.S. scientific research to the communists. Raymond was allowed laboratory access in pursuit of developing a "key" to "unlock" the undefined abilities of his stolen device, as well as aiding the Soviets on other projects. Despite being supplied with the most current technological advances, Raymond was constantly noted as being frustrated with these, by his terms, "antiques." Regardless, Raymond's efforts have sped along several Soviet projects seen as detrimental to our interests.

Two weeks ago, U.S. intelligence learned that First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev would be attending a demonstration of Raymond's mystery devices' capabilities. In advance of the event, our Unknown Soldier was sent to infiltrate. The Soldier's orders were to capture or terminate Raymond and his device with extreme prejudice. A master of disguise, the Soldier impersonated Khrushchev to maximize his ease of access. Unfortunately, Raymond looked on the Soldier's irritation in his disguise with suspicion, and the premature arrival of the actual Khrushchev sent the situation into a downward spiral. Raymond seemingly vanished before the Soldier could execute him, and the device was activated through unconfirmed means.

Based on eyewitness accounts, bizarre "portals" to parts unknown opened in the very air, and facing increasing gunfire, the Soldier exited the scene through one of these "portals," with a number of Soviet troops in pursuit. The "portals" vanished within a few minutes time, and it was by that point determined that the manifesting device had gone missing.

Whether the Unknown Soldier or other parties are in possession of the device is undetermined at this time. There is no further information about the whereabouts of our agent or his assignment at this time.

Early reports indicate that Raymond's successes on the Soviets' other projects were short-lived, and ultimately disastrous. The K.G.B. in fact suspects Raymond in engineering their sabotage. Investigation is ongoing.

Follow the rest of the DC Challengers in this "Crisis On Earth-Blog"
The Aquaman Shrine
The Atom: Tiny Titan
Being Carter Hall
Comics Make Me Happy
Crimson Lightning
Dispatches from the Arrow Cave
El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker
Firestorm Fan
Girls Gone Geek
I Am The Phantom Stranger
The Idol-Head of Diabolu
Justice League Detroit
Once Upon a Geek
Pretty, Fizzy Paradise
random picture day
Reilly2040's Blog
Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
when is evil cool?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One Image, One Comment

I'd Buy That For A Dollar!

(In honor of the release of Dynamite's Robocop #1 yesterday, which features all sorts of Verhoeven-esque insanity.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Looks Good?

This Saturday is the Big Annual Sale at my local comic shop, but that doesn't mean I won't be heading over early to get my weekly hits.

The Atom And Hawkman #46 -- Everything that's old is new once again!

Blackest Night: JSA #2 -- Will the current Society be torn to shreds by the previous one?

Justice League: Cry For Justice #6 -- Dang it, I want to know what the heck happened to Roy!

Justice League of America #41 -- The "new" Justice League bows here.  Might be worth a look.

The Web #5 -- With the outsourcing of Web Hosts still causing headaches, it's the perfect time for the Black Hood to show up.

Iron Man: I Am Iron Man #1 -- Marvel is finally getting around to adapting the hit film... just in time for the sequel.

Iron Man vs Whiplash #3 -- The new Whiplash is out for blood, so it's good that Tony Stark has managed to cobble together a new suit of armor!

Futurama Comics #47 -- The future is going to be funny, if this series is any indication.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Monday, January 25, 2010

What I Read This Week

Blackest Night: The Flash #2 -- While the Flash runs all around the world with his nifty new Blue Lantern Ring, Captain Cold and the Rogues face down the Black Lantern Rogues!  The two-pronged story works well, even though the Rogues' thread is the more interesting of the two.  But Johns and Kollins doing Flash and the Rogues AND Blackest Night is just a perfect storm for this reader, and frankly that makes me happy.  

Outsiders #26 -- In Markovia, Crown Prince Brion has plans.  And when Brion has plans, things get done.  Dan DiDio and Phillip Tan come on board and immediately set new wheels in motion, bringing back an Outsider from the past and establishing fresh conflicts.  DiDio generally does a good job, and while a few characters appear to be acting out of character, the other characters address this fact, letting us know that these turns are intentional.  Tan's art can be scratchy, but considering the downbeat story, I think it's a good match.  Given the last page reveal and twist, they have captured this reader as well as my three bucks a month for the time being.

Tiny Titans #24 -- In the words of Steve Martin, everyone gets small!  Thanks to the "special formula" of Atom's little guy being used for theie breakfast, the Tiny Titans are even tinier than usual!  Great fun as usual, with plenty of gags revolving around small folks as well as The Ant's Uncle Ant.

Invincible Iron Man #22 -- After the big hubabaloo last issue about how to revive Tony Stark... nothing happens.  So Steve Rogers heads out to make a house call to one Dr. Stephen Strange.  This is an odd comic -- there's lots of scene changes but almost nothing happens.  It's like one half of a story moreso than even a chapter in a larger one.  Fraction pulled this sort of thing during the 12-part "World's Most Wanted" as padding, but this story arc is only 5 issues!  Yeesh.  Next issue promises more happening, but who can say?

glamourpuss #11 -- Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to read this one yet, so it's still on the pile for next time.

Re-read Pile: Blackest Night: The Flash, Outsiders.

The Pick of the Pile is Outsiders.  It's a new direction and a new creative team, but DiDio and Tan have my interest piqued.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

Rick gets us started with Black Goliath's lettercol header.

G Kendall rocks it old school with some Ben Rabb Excalibur.

rob! brings the mystical mumbo-jumbo with the newest issue of ... Phantom Stranger?!

Bonus Game!  The Toughest Ticket.

Shag knows how to motivate us Star Wars fanboys.

Frank demands that YOU choose YOUR OWN Adventure (feat. Commander Steel!)

Finally, here's Kobe Bryant with an important message.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Looks Good?

I went to the Smackdown taping in Greenville last night, I'm going to the Bobcats game in Charlotte on Saturday, and new comics today.  It's like Christmas and Boxing Day all rolled up into one!

Blackest Night: The Flash #2 -- The only thing worse than Black Lantern Rogues?  Black Lantern Solivar!

Outsiders #26 -- The Dan DiDio Era begins!

Tiny Titans #24 -- What diabolical cuteness is in store for us this month?!

Mighty Avengers #33 -- The Avengers (Mighty) square off with the Avengers (Dark) at Project PEGASUS!

glamourpuss #11 -- Who's ready to go to rehab?  glamourpuss is!

So, what looks good to YOU?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Outsiders Toys Coming?

Could we be getting some Outsiders toys in mass market stores like Walmart?  According to the fine folks at Mattel, producers of the DCU Classics and and Inifite Heroes lines, the answer is yes!

Blog@Newsarama: It seems like most of the big teams in the DCU have gotten some kind of representation in DCUC, including the JLA, the JSA, the Titans, the Doom Patrol, and the Metal Men. What's the outlook like for the Outsiders and the Legion of Super-Heroes?

Mattel: Both are in the works!

Sounds good to me!  Hopeffully this means we can get some of the ladies represented.  Geo-Force and Black Lightning are both available from DC Direct, and there was a Build-A-Figure Metamorpho earlier in the line, but I would really like to see Katana and Halo in toy form, if not Looker as well.  Heck, both Katana and Halo also offer the chance to do variants!  Make it happen Mattel!

Monday, January 18, 2010

What I Read This Week

The Shield #5 -- The Shield finds himself tanlging with both Nazi robots and The Great Ten in the jungles of Brazil, while Inferno comes face to face with the man he thinks will have all the answers.  Both parts of this co-feature title are working quite well.  The lead by Eric Trautmann and Marco Rudy, is a beautiful piece of superhero histrionics, mixing the modernist with the classic and producing a wonderful hybrid.  (Definitely looking forward to seeing more of the new Jaguar.)  The Inferno backup is a psuedo-noirish X-Files turn, and the bigger story is seemingly starting to break through.  I would recommend this title to every DC fan who is not already reading it.

The Phantom: Generations #7 -- A Bangallan king brings in artisans from Italy to build a monument to the Ghost Who Walks, the Phantom is embarassed by the display.  But when the monument turns out to be something far different, he is forced to swing into action.  Standard Moonstone "illustrated prose," with a fun little story that is unfortunately fairly unremarkable.  Still, I enjoy these little short stories quite a bit so I was very satisfied with this issue.

The Phantom: Ghost Who Walks #7 -- The Phantom takes out some seemingly UN-backed human traffickers on the high seas.  Moonstone does these done-in-ones with pretty good regularity between their longer stories, and they are usually about this same level: good but not great.  The art, by Fernando Peniche, has a very over the top and excessive look to it which I do not care for.  Still, a nice little story of the Phantom slugging modern day pirates.  Also includes a nice summary by Ed Rhoades of the Phantom's various American comic book series through the years.

Re-Read Pile: The Shield, The Phantom: Ghost Who Walks

The Pick of the Pile is The Shield, which is consistantly a great read for DC month in and month out.  

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One Panel, One Question

Has anything even remotely as cool as this ever happened in Paris?

This even tops the chase from A View To A Kill.

(From Dark Horse's Gamera #4, featuring the Guardian of the Universe battling Viras in the City of Lights!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Looks Good?

2010 is in full swing now, and so that means its time to shake off those new year dregs and get back into the familiar, established routine.

The Shield #5 -- Our hero battles giant Nazi robots in South America!  And no, Jack Kirby had nothing to do with this comic.  

Invincible Iron Man #22 -- Tony Stark?  Yup, still Disassembled.

X-Men Origins: Cyclops -- I like the old school, Kirby Cyclops, so hopefully this will scratch that itch.  (Wow, two Kirby drops in one post!)

The Phantom: Generations #7 -- This week we get the illustrated prose of a previous Ghost-Who-Walks...

The Phantom: Ghost Who Walks #7 -- ...combined with the comic adventures of the modern Phantom.

So, what looks good to YOU?

Monday, January 11, 2010

What I Read This Week

Doom Patrol #6 -- "L" is for Larry, folks, and that's all you need to know about this month's installment of the Doom Patrol.  Meanwhile, the threat of the Clique reaches it shopstronomical climax.  The lead is something of a "fill in" in that it doesn't pick up immediately after the climax in 5, but it's not a stock story by any means.  Those of us who don't know the history of the Doom Patrol are about to get a whirlwind history lesson.  The Metal Men backup retains its hilarity.  I'm sad that it is going to be going away, but it seems like it will go out on the high note.  Strong and well worth the money.

Red Robin #8 -- The Council of Spiders has invaded the stronghold of the League of Assassians, and Tim Drake has to keep not only himself alive, but Tam Fox as well.  What I like about this title is that it fits a different niche in my monthly titles.  I have never been much of a Batman or Daredevil reader, so this sort of acrobatic street hero adventure is very sort of novel to me.  I like Chris Yost's handling of the characters, and his new crop of bad guys seem like they might have some legs (no pun intended).

Red Tornado #5 -- Red Volcano has a plan, and when an Earth Elemental with as much power as he does has a plan, that's bad for the entire world.  The main question from this issue is: What is the nature of Red Inferno?  Good or evil?  It's left purposefully vague here and should come to a head in the conclusion.  VanHook and Luis deliver the goods again, and I would not mind seeing these two handle more of Reddy in the future.

Warlord #10 -- McBane interviews those closest to Travis Morgan, but if you want to know the real story, you'd have to ask him about it.  Meanwhile, Kate Archer's plan for revenge on the Warlord might doom all of Skartaris!  Grell is not doing the art (save for one splash page), but that's alright in this relatively quiet issue.  My only complaint about this title is that Grell has reminded us of Morgan's origin at least three times now, using splash pages.  I don't mind that in dialogue, but let's cut down on recapping it in splash pages.

Weird Western Tales #71 -- The descendant of Jonah Hex's greatest foe gets his hands on a Black Lantern ring, and the Dead of the West are not happy about it.  It's fun playing "spot the character" (including Firehair, Super Chief, Bat-Lash, and Tomahawk) and the tale itself is fine, but as a tie-in to Blackest Night the connection is tenuous at best.  That's not to say that I didn't like this comic -- because I did -- but it's certainly not essential.  DiDio's script avoids cliches, and the art by Renato Arlem is clean and pleasing to the eye.  This issue does also serve to continue to build my confidence in DiDio as an author of Outsiders.

Phantom Double Shot: KGB Noir #1 -- The Ghost-Who-Walks is in Italy to track down a group of Russian gangsters, while the backup introduces us to Mike Bullock's new character Death Angel.  Both features are in black and white, and they are well-suited to that choice.  The Phantom adventure is nice, but the real star is Death Angel, who bows here for the first time and makes an immediate impression.  The Death Angel is one individual you do not want to run into in a dark alley!  Clearly I think that this series is designed to expose Phantom readers to the other noirish characters in the Moonstone stable, and so far they have succeeded in making me interested in another of their characters.

Julie Walker is... The Phantom: Race Against Death -- The only female Phantom undertakes an adventure which literally takes her around the globe.  An oversized one-shot, this story weaves the story of Julie Walker, twin sister of the Kit Walker active in 1889, with the historic "round the world" trip by crusading reporter Nellie Bly.  And Julie is one heck of a heroine -- Phantom Phans will be impressed with how she handles herself, and fans of female heroes in general will like the supreme confidence and compitence with which she handles herself.  Great fun.

Political Power: Ronald Reagan -- A biography of the 40th President of the United States, from his childhood through his battle with Alzheimers.  I had no idea this was coming out this past week, but it's timing was perfect.  There's no better way for me to start the new year then by reading about one of my real heroes, including excerpts from some of his most famous speeches.  Nothing groundbreaking here, but fans of "Reaganus Maximus" need to seek out and buy this comic.

Re-read Pile: Doom Patrol, Warlord, Phantom Double Shot, Julie Walker is... The Phantom, Political Power: Ronald Reagan.

The Pick of the Pile is Doom Patrol, which is so consistantly good month in and month out that it saddens me that more people aren't interested in it.  Political Power: Ronald Reagan will probably sit on my nightstand for a while, too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Everybody's Linking For The Weekend

Shag explains the concept of New Doctor Jitters.

Frank takes a look at the Martian Manhunter's spot on Robot Chicken, one of my brother's favorite TV shows.  And yes, he's a math teacher.  (My brother, not the Martian Manhunter.)

Have you met Rick?  He's got the Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu!

rob! showcases a museum you wouldn't have to have been dragged to as a kid!

Marvel reveals the new design for Iron Man's armor!

And finally, check out all four parts of Bob Layton's set visit to Iron Man 2!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

One Panel, One Question

Has anyone ever invented a better way of taking out an enemy pilot than jumping on their plane and ripping their canopy off -- in mid-flight?

I don't think so.

This comes from the awesome All-Star Squadron #8, featuring the first half of what was supposed to be Steel, The Indestructible Man #6.  Consider this a preview, maybe?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Looks Good?

The holidays are behind us, so it is time to get back into the swing of things!

Doom Patrol #6 -- How will the Patrol survive the events of last issue?  And how will Doc Magnus survive the Clique's shopping trip from hell?

Red Robin #8 -- The Council of Spiders has invaded, and it's up to Red Robin to save the League and Tam Fox!

Red Tornado #5 -- Things are really going to hit the fan now!

Warlord #10 -- Grell is still kicking it and I couldn't be happier.

Weird Western Tales #71 -- Oh to have this title on the shelf every month.  Or every other month.  Cmon DC!

Essential Avengers v.7 -- Assemblers Assemble!

Siege #1 -- Not sure if I am going to get this or not.  It is only 4 issues, but it is F'n Bendis!

Phantom Double Shot: KGB Noir #1/The Phantom Julie Walker: Race Against Death -- Not sure if I remembered to order either of these!  But they both look very cool, and Moonstone's Phantom stuff rarely steers me wrong.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fair Trade -- Mighty Avengers v.5: World's Mightiest

Most people who talk to me about comics know that I like the Avengers.  I might be more of a DC guy nowadays, but the Avengers were my super-team of choice for years and years and years.  The adventures of the World's Mightiest crew was something to look forward to every month.  Now that may have been helped by the fact that I got into the team right before the end of Volume 1.  Which means that I suffered through Volume 2, yes, but it also means I got the unspeakably awesome Busiek/Perez run to start Volume 3.  That made me an Assemblers fan for good.  From there, I started to get back issues and Essential volumes, and kept up with the current title.

All of that changed a few years back, after Brian Michael Bendis (hereafter refered to as "F'n Bendis!") took over the book and revamped it into his New Avengers.  Now, I was on board for this title as well.  New Avengers was a maddening title -- one month it would be gangbusters awesome, and the next month it would be boring and dull.  Reading this series was a rollercoaster.  But that all came to a head in the leadup to what I call "Plan B," also known as Civil War.  F'n Bendis! penned several of the absolute worst Avengers comics -- nay, comics in general -- I had ever read.  #22, featuring Luke Cage, was laughably bad, and remains the ultimate piece of evidence that while F'n Bendis! likes the idea of Luke Cage, he does not like the charater of Luke Cage.  (And frankly, my non-comics-fan wife came up with a better rationale for Cage to be Anti-Reg then he did.)  But the last straw was #25, which featured Iron Man laid up due to an EMP/virus/plot device created by Random SI Employee #45826, and then being harragued by said employee for 22 pages.  With that debacle, I called up Marvel and ended up mail order sub, and swore off the Avengers books until F'n Bendis! was off of them.

When Dan Slott took over Mighty Avengers, F'n Bendis!' supposed take on "classic Avengers" type of storytelling, I was not really impressed.  Slott had distinguished himself to me by writing some incredible bad Excalibur in the 90s and some really politcally-motivated She-Hulk stories which did nothing but tear down Iron Man, stand-in for the GOP and all that is wrong with America.  So I didn't pay it any mind.  I kept hearing on message boards about how it really was an "old school" title, and how much fun it was, but I paid it no mind.  I heard on podcasts that this was a title for disenfranchised Avengers readers, and I paid it no mind.  Finally, I picked up Slott's first issue for 50 cents at a con.  And... it was pretty darn good.  So I decided to take a bite on the first collection, and with that roundabout introduction, here we are.  

In the wake of Secret Invasion ("Plan C," by the way), the Scarlet Witch gathers together a team of Avengers to fight a reality warping evil which threatens to tear the entire world apart, including Hercules, USAgent, Iron Man, Stature, the Vision, and Hulk.  Leading this group of misfits is the chief misfit, Hank Pym, now taking to calling himself The Wasp in honor of the fallen Janet Van Dyne.  But neither the threat nor this team is what it seems on the surface, and after run-ins with the official Avengers and the Fantastic Four, the world itself has a new set of heroes, ready to go wherever they are needed.

First off, let me say right off that this is, in fact, about as close to old school Avengers as we are likely to get on the shelves in 2010.  That having been said, this team is more akin to the West Coast Avengers than anything else -- the "second string" team which is "not the official team" and all that.  But there's nothing wrong with a modern day incarnation of the West Coast Avengers, as that book was often just as good if not better than the senior title.  This is definitely a team of second stringers, but that's fine with me.  The action quotient is high, the plots make sense, and there is a distinct lack of standing around talking once the team is assembled.  Slott throws around plenty of creative touches, including the various defenses in the Baxter Building (including a room that literally stretches on forever), or the various technological tricks and tools that Hank Pym busts out.  This book is fast and fun, like an Avengers book really should be.

It's not all wine and roses (or in my case, beer and pizza), though.  Slott cannot resist his politics, this time using Norman Osborn and his Avengers as his GOP cut-outs.  And he cannot resist taking shots at Iron Man, making him alternately weak in the face of danger or cruel to his friends.  His hatred of this character is pathological.  But these problems are not that bad in the grand scheme of things.  Shellhead leaves after the first story, so that problem takes care of itself.  The politics... well I guess I need to just accept the fact that Slott is a leftist and roll with it.  Because he still writes this crew really well, his politicking notwithstanding.  He clearly has a lot of affection for these characters and has somewhere he wants to go with them, a trait I always like in a writer.  What he has done with Hank Pym -- the clear star of the title -- has made me change my opinion of him.

The art is a mixed bag, but most of it is quite nice.  The first story is by Khoi Pham, and is very dynamic and dramatic, a great fit.  The second story is by Rafael Sandoval, and it doesn't really do much for me, but it is servicable.  The third and final story is handled by Stephen Segovia and is very quirky, but not unappreciable.  All together its an eclectic mix, but it's not unpleasing to the eye.  Makes you wonder why the book can't keep a regular artist though!

All in all, I have to say that I should have checked out the title when Slott took over, because so far this has scratched my Avengers itch.  I have actually restarted my sub for Avengers, but but for Mighty this time.  Those of you out there still waiting for F'n Bendis! to move on could do a lot worse than this volume of Mighty Avengers.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What I Read This Week

Blackest Night #6 -- With the gambit to destroy the Black Power Battery last issue a failure, all of the resurrected heroes are now in the thrall of Nekron -- save Hal Jordan and Barry Allen!  But if the combined might of all seven of the Lantern Corps could not stop him, what chance to the other heroes of Earth have of defeating Nekron and his forces?  Slam-bang action from Johns and Reis, building on the best event of 2009, and setting itself up for what may continue to be the best event in 2010.  We're 3/4ths of the way through this series and the surprises just don't stop!

Blackest Night: JSA #1 -- The members of the Justice Society have their hands full, with Black Lantern Golden Agers such as the Sandman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Mr. Terrific, plus Black Lantern Damage and an army of formerly dead foes!  I passed on this initially, but a solid review from the Alternate Reality podcast made me change my mind and pick it up.  I'm glad I did -- even though this is by James Robinson and not one of the JSA regulars, its a very strong story which shows that he has a solid handle on the Society as well as the League.  Very much has me excited for the next chapter.

Re-read Pile: Blackest Night, Blackest Night: JSA.

The Pick Of The Pile is Blackest Night, no question.  But both of these books were outstanding.