New 52

The Flash Annual #2

by Alan Rapp on August 6, 2013

in Comics

The Flash Annual #2The second Flash Annual gives a look back at the first meeting between the Flash and Green Lantern, their first mission together to Arena World, and the pair’s return a couple of year’s later to make due on the promise Hal Jordan made to save the two heroes and the dozens of Earth’s children kidnapped to be turned into future gladiators.

Although the annual is missing the ongoing series’ artist and co-writer Francis Manapul (who does give us the issue’s cover), writer Brian Buccellato and Sami Basri offer up a strong Flash/GL team-up longtime fans of both characters should enjoy complete with their trademark banter.

The aliens return to hold GL to their deal and the pair of heroes are stuck fighting in a gladiatorial combat. When the Flash’s speed slowly begins to wane and Green Lantern gets taken down, Hal offers Barry the use of the ring. Although his super-sped-up brain allows him to master it relatively quickly (which is pretty cool), he’s unprepared for how much a single will-power-induced construct can take out of a guy (by targeting the enemy’s crotch).

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Larfleeze #2

by Alan Rapp on July 30, 2013

in Comics

Larfleeze #2There’s both good and bad news for Pulsar Stargrave in the latest issue of Larfleeze. The good news is he is finally free of his service to his insane master Larfleeze who bit off a little more than he could chew when he attack Laord of the Hunt who has journeyed to this dimension after killing his way through his own. The bad news is Pulsar now finds himself in service of the genocidal hunter.

Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis make a great team. For the second month in a row Larfleeze, a comic centered around a character I have no great affection for, turns out to be one of the best books of the New 52. We get the tail end the battle between Larfleez and Laord to begin the issue, but nearly the entire comic is focused on Stargrave, his current fate, and his befriending of Lou (the hound of Laord not killed by Larfleeze) and Loard’s lackey Herb.

I’ve been bemoaning the lack of humor and fun in the New 52 for nearly two years now and, at least for the first two issues, that’s exactly what Larfleeze delivers. Crazy, absurdest, space adventure wackiness. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

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The Flash #22

by Alan Rapp on July 29, 2013

in Comics

The Flash #22When the Speed Force killer kills again, the Flash sets out to protect the only other person besides himself who he believes is still tied to it, Iris West, by cloaking her in a suit like his own, which for some reason has hidden the hero from the Reverse-Flash.

After racing around with Iris, Barry calls on the help of Patty Spivot to watch over her while the Flash takes a closer look into the recent activities of Dr. Elias whose Speed Force engine has drawn the unwanted attention of the Reverse-Flash leading to the first meeting between the villain and our hero.

After teasing the confrontation for months the comic finally delivers with Barry pretty much getting his ass kicked by the Reverse-Flash. But I’m betting the Flash gets his second wind. After setting up Elias as a future villain it will be interesting to see what the loss of his invention means going forward. Iris suit, logic not withstanding, provides for some fun panels including her racing around with the Flash on his investigation. And leaving her with Patty allows for a tense conversation between the pair about Patty’s relationship with Barry. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

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Batman and Catwoman #22

by Alan Rapp on July 24, 2013

in Comics

Batman and Catwoman #22The constantly revolving door of Batman and… brings Catwoman to town with a secret mission from the Justice League of America to break into the Chinese Embassy and rescue the young daughter of a defecting biological weapons designer from those who want to use the girl as leverage for force her father to return to his work in China.

The more brutal Batman we’ve seen over the past few months is back in action, although he does find it in his heart to set the young girl’s fears at rest and even crack a smile. Artist Patrick Gleason makes good work of shadow panels as Batman and Catwoman make their way through the embassy’s guards. He also provides a nice splash panel celebrating the successful rescue.

Catwoman helps break Batman out of his funk as does Carrie Kelley whose continued perseverance at talking to Damian forces Batman to go to extreme lengths to continue the pretense that his son is still alive. I’m not sure where Carrie will eventually fit in, but any comic with her instead of Harper Row has to be counted as a win. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

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Supergirl #22

by Alan Rapp on July 22, 2013

in Comics

Supergirl #22With Krypton gone and her place on Earth uncertain, Kara searches for a new safe harbor while still feeling the effects of the Kryptonite poisoning that is slowly killing her. This leads her to I’noxia, a planet of near infinite possibilities which can recreate anything based on a person’s memories – even Krypton.

Although Kara has mixed feelings at bringing her home, mother, and friends back to life with a simple thought she has to admit to feeling at peace for the first time since leaving Krypton. However, she soon discovers what the Cyborg-Superman wants in return for her shiny new life and must admit she’s got pretty bad taste is men (especially those offering her a return to her homeworld).

Whereas most of New 52 Superman titles still feel a bit off as the character on display still hasn’t grown into the iconic Man of Steel, I’ve enjoyed the Supergirl issues I’ve read. They haven’t quite grabbed my attention to add it to my pull-list every month, but in the gritty New 52 Kara’s humor, self-deprecation, and willingness to not take herself too seriously is a welcome salve. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

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Worlds’ Finest #14

by Alan Rapp on July 13, 2013

in Comics

Worlds' Finest #14I’ve been less than ecstatic with the increased role Apokolips and Desaad have played in this comic over the past few months. Although Worlds’ Finest #14 continues that trend, it refocuses the book better on our two heroines and their friendship (and less of Desaad’s weird experiments and shadowy plans) in a way that’s been lacking in some of these issues (and reminds me a little of what I miss from Gail Simone‘s original Birds of Prey series).

Robson Rocha seems firmly in place as the title’s new artist and he does a pretty good job here (although he gets a little too liberal in the Power Girl boobs shots even when she’s out of uniform in his issue, and the inking is a little sloppy in terms of definition of the characters’ eyes in a handful of panels).

The story finds the pair still under attack as Desaad’s warriors continue to burn down their safe houses and try to grab all of Karen Starr’s research on travel to parallel worlds. The ends in a very public attack on another Starr Industries headquarters as Huntress and Power Girl split up to deal with soldiers and Parademons out for their heads.

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Detective Comics #22

by Alan Rapp on July 12, 2013

in Comics

Detective Comics #22The beginning of a new arc brings new enemies to Gotham for both Batman and Bruce Wayne. As Wayne staves off the aggression of billionaire weapons designer E.D. Caldwell who desperately wants to acquiring Wayne Enterprises technology to further his fortunes, Batman is presented with a new stable of deadly vigilantes operating in Gotham City under the command of Wrath (who, of course, is also Caldwell).

I’m not sure a late 2000’s Lex Luthor-style ripoff who also enjoys dressing up in tights and armor is a good foil for Batman. Batman dispatches Wrath’s first lieutenant without much effort (although he does have to deal with one cop who mistakes Batman for the vigilante and another intent on killing Scorn).

Although it opens up new possibilities and challenges for Batman, I’m not sold on this storyline (or either Caldwell or Wrath). The comic also offers another less than great Man-Bat back-up story that takes up way too many pages and reveals that Francine Langstrom (to no one’s surprise) is actually the Man-Bat attacking the streets at night. Anytime DC wants to dump this story would be fine with me. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $3.99]

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Larfleeze #1

by Alan Rapp on July 7, 2013

in Comics

Larfleeze #1Honestly the idea of Larfleeze, the greedy Orange Lantern, getting his own comic didn’t really interest me. However, the idea of re-teaming Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, two of the three men responsible for the insanely awesome late 1980’s Justice League, for the project certainly got my attention. And I’m glad it did.

The entire first issue reintroduces the character of Larfleeze to readers with a prolonged series of untrustworthy flashbacks as Larfleeze and his butler Pulsar Stargrave stare into the abyss of Creation Point waiting to die. The fact that Pulsar doesn’t want to die doesn’t seem to phase Larfleeze whatsoever (although him launching into his life story yet again certainly doesn’t help the butler’s mood).

Throw in a giant energy space dog and you’ve got the makings of a really good first issue, although I’m not totally sold on the art by Scott Kolins (perhaps Kevin Maguire is available?). My interest in this comic has more to do with the people writing it than the character, but (for at least for one issue) that produces the kind of madcap fun the New 52 has been sorely missing. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

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Justice League #21

by Alan Rapp on July 4, 2013

in Comics

Justice League #21DC Comics regrettable reboot of Captain Marvel‘s origin concludes her with the new dickish and rather dim (seriously, where’s the wisdom of Solomon when you need it?) Captain Marvel, I’m still not calling him Shazam, fighting it out with Black Adam and evil of the Seven Deadly Sins possessing a guy who was once mean to Billy (who, let’s face it, this a-hole version of the beloved character who defined purity, grace, honesty, and wonder for more than 70 years probably deserved it).

The issue is only really memorable for the introduction of the Marvel Family. Wait, are we supposed to call the the Shazam Family now? Can anyone really say Mary Shazam or Shazam Jr. with a straight face? Anyway, Black Adam (being the dullard that he is) teaches Billy to share his powers and give them to his adopted foster family and Tawky Tawny (sadly transforming him into the Battle Cat Flashpoint version (the alternate reality so gritty it had to be destroyed… insert your own ironic joke here), not the classic awesomeness of a talking tiger in a well-tailored suit). Also, no Hoppy. Sigh.

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Batman/Superman #1

by Alan Rapp on July 1, 2013

in Comics

Batman/Superman #1Um, what? Writer Gre Pak’s Batman/Superman #1 is a confusing tale that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere in DC’s current New 52 storyline. It’s presented, at least initially as the first meeting between both Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, and later between Batman and Superman. Okay, this part of the comic works fine (although Bruce Wayne’s undercover slumming isn’t well-explained).

Here’s the problem: We know that Justice League #1 is the first time the characters met, so is DC already retconning the New 52? Much more troubling is the turn the issue takes halfway through where it appears Batman and Superman have known each other for some time and Batman is confused while Superman is wearing jeans rather than his regular costume. Yeah, I’m confused too (with everything that’s happening)!

The story also involves some kind of entity that takes over its host and gets off on pain and power. The character is never properly introduced nor are his powers defined. This is a clusterfuck of a first issue that makes less sense the more you read it. Pass.

[DC, $3.99]

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