Monday, February 25, 2008

Four-Color Fiend: Keeping Count & Ape-on-Ape violence

We’re going to jump right into this after the usual…


In the latest issue of Countdown to Final Crisis (#10), just as Holly, Harley & a repowered Mary Marvel have tracked down Granny Goodness somebody takes the old gal out, for what looks to be the final time. Can’t say I’m shedding a tear for Granny but I’m having problems with this whole “death of the New Gods” thing to begin with. It seems the three ladies freed the original Greek gods from the imprisonment of Darkseid and in return, the Olympians have granted powers to both the one-time Catwoman and The Joker’s former partner. Mary Batson has been given absolution (didn’t know non-catholic gods could do that?) and given back her old powers and white outfit. Needless to say, the Old Gods want to have a word with their captor about a few things.

Meanwhile, poor old Pied Piper does a nice imitation of Jesus being tempted by Satan, with the former rogue playing the Christ role to DeSade’s evil tempter. PP is finally freed of the explosive device that had kept him leashed to what was left of Trickster, but I think he is on the brink of madness. I still think he will have something to do with the final resolution of the current story, since he is on Apokolypse along with most of the major players of the series. Jason Todd, Kyle Raynor and Donna Troy, along with Ray Palmer are all planetside as well, when Brother Eye shows up to merge with Darkseid’s kingdom.

I am glad to see that Paul Dini, Justin Gray and the other writers are finally bringing everything together. I also like the Ron Lim art in this issue, which is something I can’t say for some of the other artists who have worked on this series. Just the lack of thrusting T&A is a nice change. I know that we still have two more months of this, but it seems to be coming together and I have hope that things will flow nicely into Final Crisis.

Over in Salvation Run #4, the Joker & Luthor ‘tribes’ seem to be having some internal squabbles. We also see that Catwoman (I’m guessing the Selina Kyle version) is spying on the Martian Manhunter, who using the form of Blockbuster, has been spying on both groups. Why the telepath is unable to detect the presence of the hidden Selina isn’t mentioned or even hinted at by the writer. It did cause me to step outside the story for a second, which is always a bad thing.

While this is going on some of Luthor’s tribe are not too happy having former members of the Suicide Squad among them, possibly because it was the SS who dropped them onto the planet to begin with. The fact that the Squad’s leader, Rick Flag, deceived some members of the team and sent them along doesn’t seem to matter. Luthor, on the other hand, makes a lame speech about how they all have made strange alliances in the past and the important thing is for them to work together to get off the planet. I know I’m probably in the minority in hoping that both Luthor & The Joker don’t make it off the planet at all.

Vandall Savage has talked a small group of female villains to accompany him to the ‘safe zone’ where they can either wait for a way off the planet or just enjoy Vandall’s company, I guess? Wasn’t Vandall going around eating his descendants at one point? Of course, none of these ladies looks to be the motherly type anyway.

The best part of this issue is the fight between Gorilla Grodd and Monsieur Mullah. Grodd has an enormous ego to begin with, so when he is approached by Mullah (an ape with the brain of a human) as an equal he is not happy. His contempt for Mullah’s plan that the two of them, aided by The Brain, join forces causes him to insult Mullah which leads to quite a battle. Gaining the upper hand Grodd uses the device in which The Brain is contained to beat Mullah to death. The final scene is actually moving if you, like I do, have a fondness for these two long-time Doom Patrol enemies. The story gets an unforeseen twist when Joker comes upon the weakened Grodd.

I don’t know how this fits in with the ongoing events in Countdown or the DCU, but I have enjoyed the last couple of issues far more than I would have thought. Since we already know that Darkseid has his hand in all this, I expect that eventually we will see the connection.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Some quick stuff about comics

I'll be heading over to Nuclear Comics this coming Friday, so I'll be playing catch-up with other reviewers. In the meantime, I just had some comments about some books I'm currently reading.

As you can tell from this site I'm a fan of westerns in most forms. I love western themed movies, comics, television programs and even the occasional western novel. It shouldn't be a surprise to find that I finally got around to picking up the current LONE RANGER series being published by Dynamite Entertainment.

Writer Brett Matthews and artist Sergio Cariello begin with the classic 'origin' story of how Texas Rangers John & Dan Reid along with their fellow rangers are ambushed by outlaws. John survives and aided by Tonto (who he knew when he was younger), takes up the masked identity for which he became famous. Matthews introduces us to the Reid and their widower father, when John was only a boy. In this version of the story, the elder Reid was already Ranger and his sons followed in his footsteps. While Dan stayed with his father, the young John was sent off to college, returning years later to rejoin his brother and father on that fateful outing.

I'm jumping in late on this title, so I don't know where Matthew is going to go after the origin tale. I enjoyed the first issue, and will probably pick up at least a couple more to see how this turns out before adding the book to my "pull list" at the shop.

Again, I've only read the first issue but I wanted to recommend the Marvel book, THE TWELVE. Written by J. Michael Straczynski with pencils by Chris Weston, the series tells the story of a group of masked heroes (some super others not) that had been ambushed at the end of WWII and kept frozen until discovered in the 21st century. Awoken by the American military they are offered a deal, under the new laws instituted in the Marvel Universe in the series CIVIL WAR, allowing them to use their powers and abilities if the will work for the government. The heroes used all appear to be third-string or just plain forgotten characters that appeared in various titles published by then Atlas comics. I'll have more to say on this probably after I read the second issue.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm still here!

I haven't posted recently, so wanted to quickly throw something in just so you don't forget me.

LOST is very, good this year. Picking up from where it left off last season and throwing us some curves with scenes that could be flashbacks or flashforwards. These hints of the future let us know that there is a group called the Oceanic Six, apparently referencing six survivors who leave the island. I won't give anything away, but the hint last season showed you to of the six. So far we have seen two more and somebody who may be one of those or have gotten off the island before or after. It was a surprise, believe me.

JERICHO will be on tonight and both Donna & I are curious to see how the show's creators will bring some closure. It seems that the show was given a second chance, but has not been picked up for next season. Looks like the show will have to bring in ratings high enough this time around to get picked up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Star Wars Music Video

This is for The Child!
I'm repeating myself. :-)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Steve Gerber: RIP

I was sorry today to learn of the passing of comics writer, Steve Gerber. According to Gerber died Sunday from complications due to a battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Gerber was was 60 years old.

He was probably best known for his creation of HOWARD THE DUCK, over at Marvel Comics. Introduced as a minor character in Gerber's Man-Thing series the feathered foul-mouth quickly became a fan favorite. Sadly, Gerber spent years battling Marvel over rights to the character and other creative differences. During his career, Gerber wrote for both DC & Marvel, working on many of the major characters for both companies.

My condolences to his family, friends and the thousands of comic fans who followed his career.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Four-color fiend: Less than a dozen left to Countdown at DC

It looks as if we will be in the midst of FINAL CRISIS when the San Diego Comic Con comes to town. I’m sure some big Marvel Comics event is also going on, but since I’m only reading two current Marvel titles, I’m not going to concern myself with that.

Anyway, with a few of the usual


Superman-Prime and Monarch go mano-o-mano (or whatever the super powered version of that is) in #13 and you really want each of them to suffer permanent, if not lethal damage. Okay, some lethal damage might not be so bad considering that both are mass murderers a million times over. Neither should get a second chance at redemption nor, to be honest, ever see the four-color page again. Neither has a personality beyond being over-the-top evil and that rises and falls per book.

What’s left of the Challengers are dragging poor Ray Palmer around, and like other reviewers we hope to see him actually do something to deserve all the aggravation folks have gone through to find him. Still not sure what I think of the whole Red Robin outfit that Jason Todd is wearing, but it combines enough of both Batman & Robin’s uniforms to work.

Darkseid starts to take center stage and we see his interaction with the Monitor now known as Solomon. Their cosmic chess game puts things into perspective and I don’t expect Darkseid to play fair, although he has shown some strange moral code previously. Of course, that was more the original Jack Kirby take on the character, and too many lesser creators have monkeyed around with him since.

Issue #12 seems to indicate that the next few issues will have quite a few of the central cast showing up on Apokolips. The Challengers are already there; Jimmy Olsen gets a ‘message’ hinting that he and probably Forager should head there; Granny Goodness is revealed for what she is by Hippolyta and escapes via Boom Tube with Harley, Holly & Mary Batson/ Marvel (still without powers) jumping in after her; poor lost Pied Piper, who is slowly going mad still connected to what is left of Trickster (hint: not very much at this point), finds himself seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, as another Boom Tube opens in the desert.

Only eleven issues of the series left, along with a few tie-in series, until everything supposedly comes together in Final Crisis, this summer. I expect to still be following part of the story by then, but we’ll see how I feel at that point.

Countdown to Adventure #6 starts off with Adam Strange saved from the Lady Styx consumed Champ, by Adam’s wife Alanna. The couple, along with daughter, Aleea, takes the departing Zeta Beam (and don’t those things always turn up at the most convenient moments) to Earth-One. Meanwhile, Starfire (still without her own powers) and Animal Man’s wife, Ellen are hoping to stage a rescue of Buddy who has been taken by the alien “Healers”. Naturally, the Zeta Beam brings Adam & family to the exact spot where their timely appearance ends with Adam joining in the rescue attempt. Things actually seem to take a positive turn with the rescue taking place, but at that point the Healers decide the only way to cleanse the Earth (and by doing that save the Universe) is to destroy the planet which has become increasingly infected by the followers of Lady Styx. It all seems to be coming together with only two issues left to the series.

Sadly, there is also a chapter of the continuing Forerunner story. At this point the mass murderer and former aide to Monarch has captured a ‘space pirate’ vessel, killed the leader and most of his crew. Piloted by those members she allowed to survive, Forerunner’s vessel is surrounded by a fleet of Thanagarian (the race to which Hawkman belongs) ships that are seeking the now-deceased pirate. Swiping a plot from STAR TREK and hundreds of other Sci-Fi stories, Forerunner makes a deal with the Thanagarians to release her if she can defeat their champion in combat. Since it is her story she prevails, takes the champion back to ship to use as her sex slave.

I hate to say this but sometimes I wish the Comics Code was still available.

It’s repugnant enough that DC feels that they can turn a murderer into a ‘star’ character (it wouldn’t be the first time, witness the various attempts to make Deathstroke into a hero), but you do this in a title where the primary story seems aimed at a very different audience. If things turn out the way they should Forerunner will meet the same fate that Monarch and Superman-Prime so richly deserve. Elimination from the DCU.

More on other comics in the next few days.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sheldon: Movin' picture cowboys & thar' hats

It's been a while since I plugged Dave Kellett's wonderful SHELDON strip. Today's features one of my favorite characters the duck, Arthur.
The scary thing is that if you have seen even a few dozen old B&W westerns you'll recognize all of these!