Beginning with the awards ceremony which closes out the original Star Wars, the first issue of Marvel’s new Princess Leia series centers around Leia struggling to find a new role within the Rebellion following the destruction of her homeworld Alderaan.
Although I think some of inking of artist Terry Dodson’s panels look a tad unfinished in places, Dodson’s art is a solid match for Mark Waid’s storytelling the offers a rationale for Leia to have a few solo missions of her own to fuel the series. Not completely on her own, Waid and Dodson introduce the character of X-Wing Fighter Pilot Evaan who is loyal to the last remaining royal from her homeworld even if she has issues with Leia’s public demeanor.
Although we get glimpses of other familiar characters including Luke, Wedge, Han, Chewbacca, and Admiral Ackbar, it seems that Leia and Evaan will be carrying the bulk of the story from here on out as the pair search for other survivors of Alderaan whom the Empire has put a bounty (including a certain Rebel princess). Worth a look.
Although the story will eventually tie back into the larger arc of Casey‘s bid to be the next Student Council President, the focus of Morning Glories #43 is predominantly on Ike who makes some disturbing discoveries on his trip to the school’s library.
The Librarian hands the young man a series of books causing visions from his past (a ceremony performed shortly after his birth by Abraham and Gribbs and what follows in the offices of Wow-Mo! Enterprises), present (those spying on the his “friends” in the school), and future (in which he sits down with a far older version of himself).
Despite his usual banter with Casey early on, it’s obvious that the fate of Jade is weighing heavy on Ike which makes the revelation of his eyes being opened (an important phrase we’ve seen before concerning the kids reaching an important milestone of their potential) all the more interesting. Such an experience doesn’t leave the cocky young man unscathed as he chooses to join the fight and put together a team to help Casey win the upcoming election. Has a new organized rebellion finally begun? Worth a look.
Uncanny X-Men wraps up the Matthew Malloy storyline with a bit of a cheat and in a way that teaches Tempus a horrible lesson about how messing with the past to remove someone from all existence is a good thing for a hero to do. First, I don’t buy Professor Xavier taking such a stance. And second, Tempus’ threat to do the same to Cyclops is not only out of line but also empty as any erasing of the existence of Scott Summers (who matters far more in Marvel history than Mally) would lead to any number of dire futures completely destroyed by the Phoenix or ruled over by Apocalypse or Magneto.
The other problem with the arc’s wrap-up is that removes the intriguing character of Malloy in a way that admits he doesn’t really matter (an argument at odds with everything the X-Men have stood for over the last half-century) as the character was never designed to be anyhing more than a plot device from the beginning. The fallout also leaves several questions about the future direction of this title with Scott closing his school and (apparently) choosing to roam the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu. Hit-and-Miss.
“Smoak Signals” reunites the Flash and Felicity when Green Arrow‘s Girl Friday is target by killer robot drones known as Sky Lords who have been programmed to take out Ms. Smoak. I though the two shows gave up on the possibility of a Felcity/Barry relationship far too quickly so its fun to see the two thrown together here (albeit as friends). Given that the issue teases, but doesn’t offer the identity of, who wants Felicity dead I’m betting we’ll see the thread of this story picked up in the near future.
The first few pages of the issue also give us Felicity watching the Flash battle the Hydro Hunter whose origins and motivations aren’t explored here. The fight is fun but given the level of the villain’s powers he seems an odd choice for what boils down to a pre-credit scene fight. However, the sequence does illustrate how Felicity continues to keep tabs on Barry and offer a more a-hole version of the pre-Atom Ray Palmer than we’ve seen on the show so far (what a dick!).
Fans of both The Flash and Arrow should enjoy the crossover even if questions are left unanswered. Worth a look.
Secret Six Volume 1: Villains United collects the Villains United mini-series, which relaunched Catman as a major player in the DCU, along with the first Secret Six six-issue mini-series. The best part of Infinite Crisis, the Villains United series centers around a group of villains who refuse to join Lex Luthor‘s Secret Society of Super-Villains led by the most unlikely of characters – Catman.
Despite the depths the character had sunk to in the years previous to writer Gail Simone’s makeover, I’ve always been a fan of Catman and Simone does a terrific job in rebranding the character from D-list back to A-list while still acknowledging his fall from grace. Choosing to join the team on his own, Catman became a part of the Secret Six who were controlled by the mysterious Mockingbird and sent into action with the promise of reward (and the threat of death).
The mini-series follows the group through battle, torture, dysfunction, betrayal, and more while setting up the group’s core dynamics like Deadshot and Catman’s bromance, the insanity of Ragdoll, the deception of Chesire, and the twist of a romantic relationship between Scandal Savage and Knockout.
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The Turtles’ plan begins to unfold as Krang and Shredder‘s forces work diligently to kill each other allowing Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo time to sneak aboard and put a stop to the Technodrome before Krang brings it online. However, trouble unfolds with the unexpected double-cross of Baxter Stockman who attempts to seize control of the Technodrome for himself.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #43 is heavy on action featuring battles between Krang and The Foot, Old Hob‘s mutant mob and Splinter verses Karai’s soldiers (offering us a short sword battle between Splinter and Karai), and the Turtles battling their way to stop Stockman from activating the Technodrome before it is too late.
The only ones not thrown into action are Alopex (who sadly doesn’t appear in the issue) and Donatello who is likely going to face the wrath of Shredder next month as, after discovering the betrayal, the leader of The Foot orders Rocksteady and Bebop to kill the Turtle. Gulp. Worth a look.
As Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael fight off their collective fears (including squid clowns and the Kraaang) courtesy of the Fear Mushroom, Michelangelo faces down Pizza Face who has plans to devour all of New York starting with one pizza-loving Turtle.
Despite saving the city from an impossible pizza monster (which eventually grows to Godzilla-like size) and his Mega-Pizza Kitchen of Ultimate Evil from which he plans to bake all of the city’s inhabitants, Mikey gets no credit for his save as Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael (lost in hallucinatory fear) just assume he’s making up the entire story.
The comic’s back-up story features the Turtles struggling with a blackout. With all their favorite pizza places closed, and none of them wanting Mikey to cook, the Turtles accept their brother’s challenge of a pizza baking contest which just goes to prove that loving pizza and being able to make pizza are two very different things. Worth a look.
Romance is in the air as relationships are at the center of the latest issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten as Super-Andrew‘s new found powers allows him to help Buffy, Spike, and the Scoobies fight a sorcerer known as the Sculptor who creates armies out of dead flesh. As promised the magic potion Andrew took allows him to finally become his best self, which actually doesn’t have anything to do with his new powers which leave him as quickly as they appeared once the young man admits a not-so-well-kept secret to himself and his friends.
Spike has much soul searching to do as he rebuffs Buffy’s attempts to rekindle their romance in earnest for the first time since his soul was returned. Although he thinks he’s doing what’s best he quickly regrets his decision attempting to rectify the mistake. As expected the pair finally do find their way back to each other but not without some foreshadowing about about a murderous cost that could come into play in the coming months.
Romance doesn’t flow for Giles who continues to be stymied in his adolescent form or for Xander and Dawn who seem to finally be more at ease with themselves after months of awkwardness. Worth a look.
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The “who is Batgirl” storyline seemingly wrapped up a couple months ago continues in Batgirl #39. The quick revamp of the character with spiffy new costume and younger feel got me interesting in Barbara Gordon once again but my interest is already beginning to wane. Although they finally make-up at the end of the issue, Batgirl #39 continues Black Canary‘s role as pretty much the worst friend ever as she completely abandons Babs once again in her time of need as my opinion of the New 52 version of Dinah Lance continues to sour with little relief in sight.
The latest issue does introduce an unexpected villain behind the town of Burnside turning on Batgirl as Barbara finally makes a connection between her computer code and recent memory lapses. I’m not sure I buy the final panel’s tease of who is responsible, but at least it feels like the comic is leading somewhere new.
Once again the art of Babs Tarr is the highlight of the issue, but the style and look of the series in and of themselves can’t hide the fact that better storytelling is needed. For fans.
The seven-issue mini-series from writer John Raffo and artist Nur “Popia” Iman comes to a close in The 7th Sword #7 as the reluctant samurai Daniel Cray, after recovering his lost Malathane sword in the desert, chooses to return and fight alongside the small army of ZenZion against the vast array of mutants and mechs under the command of the vicious warlord Kavanaugh.
The final issue of the series doesn’t skimp on action as Cray leads the small force against overwhelming odds leaving broken bots and bodies in their wake. The 7th Sword #7 also delivers on the long-teased fight between Cray and Kavanaugh’s cyborg assassin Superfecta 5 (which takes place over eleven pages with other action mixed in).
With the mini-series coming to a close and Cray choosing to stay in ZenZion I’m not sure whether or not we’ll eventually see further adventures of the space mercenary samurai but for while it lasted The 7th Sword #7 proved to be a fun ride. Worth a look.