Comics

Justice League United #4

by Alan Rapp on August 21, 2014

in Comics

Justice League United #4The comic’s five-issue opening arc comes to a close with the team’s return from Rann, but two members don’t make the trip. I was surprised to see Hawkman‘s death not quickly reversed, and given his new connection to Alanna and the Zeta Beam the safest place for Adam Strange is Rann meaning the comic has lost two of its core members before ever getting started.

The Animal Man/Green Arrow relationship remains the best part of the book, but I am disappointed with writer Jeff Lemire’s choice in Supergirl‘s adversarial relationship with the team, particularly Stargirl. As the comic has already lost two of its major selling points (in favor of far-less interesting stand-ins like Miiyahbin), the only way for it to succeed is to build relationships among the group which aside from Ollie and are sorely lacking.

Although Justice League United #4 wraps up the arc it doesn’t do much to sell me to continue reading the title past this so-so issue which leaves the team and comic with holes to fill. For fans.

[DC, $3.99]

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures #14Playing on the Donatello‘s well-established crush on April (both in the comic and current cartoon), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures #14 finds the smartest Turtle get into trouble in an attempt to create a pheromone spray to cause April to return his feelings. Things go wrong pretty quickly for Donatello as the spray doesn’t effect April but does cause the various bugs in the sewers and New York streets to seek out the Turtle leaving his brothers to clean up the mess.

The issue’s back-up story centers Michelangelo‘s short attention span which gets him kidnapped by Baxter Stockman and imprisoned in the mad scientist’s latest robot creation sent after Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello. Mikey uses his brains (sort of) to save the day leaving his brothers both impressed and exasperated (as usual).

The pair of goofy stories both center around well-established character traits and fit well into the comic’s existing catalog. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

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Smallville Season Eleven: Chaos #1

by Alan Rapp on August 19, 2014

in Comics

Smallville Season Eleven: Chaos #1The first issue of Smallville Season Eleven: Chaos introduces Eclipso to the Smallville Universe and relocates Superman and Lois Lane to a parallel Earth within the Multiverse (which sadly is populated with Manhunters instead of talking animals in spandex). There’s a lot to enjoy here including appearances by Ted Kord and Booster Gold (who, like his New 52 counterpart, feels a bit off without his gold pants and Elvis collar) along with Zatanna and a bit of old school super-villain mischief from Lex Luthor.

With Lex throwing a wrench into Ted Kord and Michael Holt‘s new super collider for his own ends to explore the existence of the bleed, Superman and Lois find themselves pulled into a depressing world where humanity is at the mercy of a Manhunter army. Back home, Superman’s quick takedown of one man possessed by the mysterious space gem isn’t quite finished as several become infected by the shattered gem allowing Eclipso to rise in a world without Superman. Better hurry home boy scout. Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

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Astro City #14

by Alan Rapp on August 19, 2014

in Comics

Astro City #14The first-half of a two-part story, Astro City #14 introduces the character of Ellie who has spent the last several years creating something between a scrap yard and museum of former super-villain machines which she has slowly nursed back to health. Despite the once dangerous nature of the robots, Ellie’s desire to fix her metal friends are inspired by only good intentions. Sadly the same can’t be said of her nephew who sees a way to make the robots far more profitable in the short term.

Robot soldiers have been a staple of comics for decades and it’s an interesting take to view them not from the creator or those that battled them but from the perspective of a loving fan of the robots who sees the marvelous creations as far more than only weapons. Artist Brent Anderson has fun offering a variety of different types of robots which make up Ellie’s makeshift museum.

The slimy nephew taking advantage of the old woman is a bit pretty easy to see coming, but writer Kurt Busiek hints that there’s far more to Ellie’s story than we’ve seen so far. Worth a look.

[Vertigo, $3.99]

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Worlds’ Finest #26

by Alan Rapp on August 18, 2014

in Comics

Worlds' Finest #26The Huntress and Power Girl‘s return to Earth-2 begins here. I’m on record as being vehemently against the move. Although the Worlds’ Finest #26 doesn’t sell me on the concept it at least doesn’t lose its way by delving headfirst into a war-torn new world. It’s actually odd, but we see very little of the modern day homeworld of the two heriones in their first issue back home.

Worlds’ Finest‘s best issues have all centered on the friendship between Power Girl and Huntress which continues here and (thankfully) doesn’t get overwhelmed by their new surroundings. I’m still not looking forward to months of New 52 Apokolips storylines (or Desaad‘s return) but at least the core relationship of the book appears to remain intact.

Oddly, the comic also continues the storyline on Prime Earth where Tanya Spears has been apparently tapped to take Power Girl’s place (both in and out of tights). How or why this is possible is unclear. I also wonder how long the comic plans to split focus between two worlds taking several pages away from its established stars. For fans.

[DC, $2.99]

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Star Wars #20

by Alan Rapp on August 18, 2014

in Comics

Star Wars #20Dark Horse Comics’ classic Star Wars series comes to a close here wrapping up the final arc as Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca race to rescue Leia’s childhood friend who has been working for years as a Rebel spy inside the Empire. Rescuing Seren from the determined robotic bounty hunter IG-88 is easier said than done, but by the end of the issue the core group is safe, the mission is successful, and Luke shows off a little foreshadowing of the Jedi Master he is destined to one day become.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m disappointed to see the work writer Brian Wood and artist Stéphane Créty have done on this title come to an end. Their 20 issue run is some of the best comics Dark Horse put out in the Star Wars Universe and I wonder what else we might have see had their run been able to continue.

Star Wars #20 works as a final issue giving each of the core members their own moments to shine while teasing us on adventures we sadly won’t be able to see continue as the rights return to Marvel Comics (who, after what we’ve seen here, have some big shoes to fill). Worth a look.

[Dark Horse, $2.99]

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All-New X-Men #30

by Alan Rapp on August 16, 2014

in Comics

All-New X-Men #30After (finally) wrapping up the Xavier and the Future Brotherhood of Mutants storyline last month, All-New X-Men takes a break and gives the characters a chance to breathe. All-New X-Men #30 deals primarily with the state of two relationships, one which has been brewing for several months and the other which turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

As the cover suggests, this is the issue where Angel and X-23 finally get together. It’s certainly an odd pairing, but as Angel states during the issue he doesn’t need to know why he likes Laura only that he does. This is a relationship I’m going to want to see develop over the next several months.

The other major plot thread involves Emma Frost trying to pick a fight with Jean Grey, but not for the reason you may suspect. The ending of that story completely changes the pair’s dynamic (which didn’t have anywhere to go) and opens up the door for several new possibilities between Scott Summers‘ ex-girlfriends as actual friends. Poor Cyclops. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

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Fairest #28

by Alan Rapp on August 14, 2014

in Comics

Fairest #28Continuing to mirror the events in Fables as both series move towards their end, Fairest #28 offers more of the animal uprising on The Farm where the non-human creatures demand the glamours promised to them. The creation of a handful of glamours chosen by lottery passifies the angry mob (at least for now).

In the comic’s other story, we witness Reynard be forcefully rejected by Snow White only to find some love, and much more trouble, on a farm not far removed from the Fables’ home.

Fairest #28 is a solid issue, but it still lacks the strong female lead that the series was built upon (unless Reynard’s new love interest turns out to be more than she seems) making it feel much more like an issue of Fables which bothers me a bit as the spin-off doesn’t look like its going to get a chance to go out on its own terms. A short interlude focused on the odd Mr. Webb is actually far more interesting than either of the main plotlines of the issue. For fans.

[Vertigo, $2.99]

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Grayson #2

by Alan Rapp on August 13, 2014

in Comics

Grayson #2The second-issue of Dick Grayson‘s new series featuring Batman‘s former partner working undercover as an agent for a shadow spy organization known as Spyral finds Grayson and Helena Bertinelli after the mad-scientist inventor of a bizarre piece of technology known as an “enhanced stomach” which has gifted the woman with super-speed but also turned her into a bloodthirsty cannibal.

Although it keeps the feel of last month’s opening issue, Grayson #2 isn’t quite as strong (probably because the enhanced stomach sounds more dumb than exotic or dangerous). The second issue does continue to develop Dick and Helena’s relationship while offering us a good look at how motivated Spyral is to get its hand on technologies which can help them in their secret endeavors.

Also of interest is the fact that Midnighter returns for a cameo, still fuming at being beaten by an unknown Spyral agent meaning we’re likely to get another battle between the pair fairly soon. For fans.

[DC, $2.99]

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Rocket Raccoon #2

by Alan Rapp on August 12, 2014

in Comics

Rocket Raccoon #2Although I’m a little fuzzy on the reason why, Rocket Raccoon‘s big plan to clear his name begins by turning himself over to the authorities and getting thrown into one of the worst prisons of the known galaxy. Of course that’s where things get interesting as with the help of a certain wooden stowaway the raccoon gets into all kinds of mischief including a prolonged prison-break montage.

It may not be quite as fun as the immensely-enjoyable first issue (there’s a bit of a lag between the montage and when the fleet of Rocket’s crazy ex-girlfriends all show up), but there’s plenty of insanity to enjoy here. Longtime fans of Rocket Raccoon will notice the explicit mention of Halfworld suggesting that a least some of Rocket’s bizarre origins remain in place while opening up the door to the possibility of seeing some of those characters down the line.

On a personal note I’ll also admit to shelling out the extra cash for the Stan Sakai (the genius behind Usagi Yojimbo) variant cover which is pretty damn cool. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

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