Posts Tagged ‘J.T. Krul

02
Jul
10

Recent Comics Roundup: Brightest Day with extra Green

Okay, gang, how about another roundup of recent comic book releases. I’ll give you my usual slate of Brightest Day comics, then tomorrow I’ll get into some other recent books, including a few Heroic Age comics and the big Wonder Woman #600 that all the kids are talking about. Let’s get to it.

Green Lantern Corps #49: In part two of “Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns,” Boodikka and John Stewart undertake a mission to planet Grenda, home of the robot Lantern Stel, who has gone incommunicado. Shortly after his arrival, though, John finds himself under attack by an unexpected source, and Kyle Rayner, Ganthet, and Soranik Natu go out to rescue the rescue mission. We also get a glimpse of the fallout from Deadman’s battle with the Anti-Monitor in Brightest Day #3, as it seems to be playing into this storyline. Ever since the Alpha-Lanterns were introduced, there’s been something distinctly creepy about them, and this issue seems to be pulling the curtain back a bit on them. We’re getting to see some of what they’re really up to, and while we still may not quite know why they’re behaving this way, the fact that they are is disturbing enough. Tony Bedard does still have room for character beats, though. The recent return of Kyle’s late ex-girlfriend, Jade, is causing trouble in his current relationship with Soranik. We also really get to see what makes John Stewart tick in this issue. I’m very happy that he’s joined the cast of this book full-time, as in just two issues he’s gotten more exposure than he did in the past 25 issues of the core Green Lantern title. Ardian Syaf gets to play with a lot of redesigns this issue, and he does a fine job. He’s rapidly rising up the ranks of DC’s bests artists, and this is one of DC’s best comics.

Rating: 8/10

Green Arrow #1: Hey, look, it’s a Green Arrow #1! It must be at least two, three months since we had one of those. At the beginning of Brightest Day, the devastated Star City became the site of an enormous star-shaped forest. Oliver Queen, now unmasked and disgraced as Green Arrow due to his murder of Prometheus (in Justice League: Cry For Justice), has taken to living in the forest, where he has become far more literal a modern Robin Hood than ever before. Not surprisingly, this issue is a lot of set-up. We find out where Ollie has been and what he’s been doing  since we last saw him, and we see what’s been happening to the power structure in what’s left of Star City. At the end of the issue, we see once again just how this title seems to be keyed in to Brightest Day, with a nice little reveal. While I’m still not sold that this revamp of the character justified yet another first issue for Green Arrow, I really do like what J.T. Krul is doing with him. He’s got a very good feel for Ollie, for who he is, for what he’s doing. Diogenes Neves’ artwork is strong, and interestingly enough seems to work better in the forest than in the city. Mauro Cascioli does a flat-out fantastic cover, one that really knocks my socks off. It’s not a knockout first issue, but it’s a strong one.

Rating: 7/10

Justice League: Generation Lost #4

The four JLI members who remember Max Lord, along with the new Blue Beetle, find themselves in Russia, unwillingly drawn into a conflict between a rogue Rocket Red and an entire squad of the armored Russian warriors. The new Rocket Red, a terrorist dedicated to the restoration of the Socialist rule, finds an unexpected ally in the former Justice League, and it’s Booster Gold of all people who starts to piece together what’s going on. Like many of the characters who returned from the dead, this issue we start to see that Maxwell Lord’s powers aren’t exactly like they were before his death. I find this particular mystery very interesting, and I’ve very much enjoyed watching it play out in several of the Brightest Day-branded titles. The reluctance of this group to form a team is also a really interesting way to play things. Judd Winick’s Power Girl last week didn’t impress me much, but his collaboration with Keith Giffen has been quite strong since this book launched. I’m enjoying the story, the mystery, and seeing these characters together again, which is what you want whenever this particular band is brought back together.

Rating: 7/10

Green Lantern #55: Lobo is back, and he’s on Earth to collect the bounty on Atrocitus. As the White Lantern still seems to want Atrocitus around, Hal Jordan finds himself in the odd position of defending the Red Lantern, along with Carol Ferris and Sinestro, from the last Czarnian. There’s a ton of action this issue, and Doug Mahnke does a great job of laying it out. The inks on this issue, though, are a little looser than I would like. Aside from the fight scenes, Geoff Johns also delves into the mystery of the strange being that seems determined to capture the Entities that embody the seven Corps. This has been a very strong element in this title, once that’s helped to propel the story forward since Brightest Day began. We also get a back-up story illustrated by Shawn Davis, the origin of the Red Lantern Dex-Starr. What exactly could take a cat from Earth and turn him into a brutal member of the rage-filled Red Lantern Corps? It’s a sad story, no surprise, and the last panel will break the heart of pretty much any cat-lover. Despite myself, I can’t help but hope that Johns returns to this story at some point and gives Dex-Starr the chance for a little payback.

Rating: 8/10

The Flash #3: Another Geoff Johns comic (the guy writes a lot of them, doesn’t he?) returns to the resurrected Captain Boomerang. Boomerang is back in prison, where he’s been given the “assignment” to break out before his fellow Rogues will consider accepting him back into the fold. Barry Allen, meanwhile, is being pursued by the Renegades – Rogue-based cops from the 25th century – who are accusing him of the murder of one of their own… a murder that hasn’t happened yet. This is a damn ominous issue. Not only is Captain Boomerang shaping up to be much more of a threat than he’s been in the past, but Johns briefly brushes up against just why Barry could be driven to kill Mirror Monarch. Here’s a hint. Barry has killed before. Anybody remember what it was that drove him to it the first time? Two more things to love about this issue. First, Johns has brought back the old-school “Flash Facts,” with the help of artist Scott Kolins, giving us both actual science (how a Boomerang works) and some “Secret Files”-style in-world info, in this case about Captain Boomerang himself. The other thing to love is the art of Francis Manapul. I don’t know if it’s an improvement in his style or the colors of Brian Buccellato (or a combination of the two), but his style on this book is so far ahead of his work on Legion of Super-Heroes just a few years ago that you couldn’t tell it was the same artist. It’s fantastic.

Rating: 9/10

Justice League of America #46: After a two-issue prologue, the JLA/JSA crossover “The Dark Things” begins in earnest this issue. The Starheart has taken over Green Lantern Alan Scott, and the power is spreading across the Earth, causing magic- or elemental-based heroes and villains to lose control and wreak havoc on the world. The Justice League and Justice Society spring into action to shut down the elementals, while the newly-returned Jade tries to use her altered powers to try to figure out what’s happened to her absent father and brother. James Robinson does good work balancing the two groups of characters and exploring some of the new relationships that this team is afforded – Congorilla and Jesse Quick, Nightwing and Supergirl… characters that we haven’t seen together very much, but work well together. Mark Bagley juggles a ton of characters this issue and he’s got a good feel for most of them. The young League looks great, the older JSA not as much, and that’s just a consequence of his style. He’s always done young characters very well. In the back-up story, Pow Rodrix illustrates the tale of two JLA members that don’t appear to be on the current team. Cyborg has helped develop a new technology that may prevent Red Tornado from ever having his body destroyed again, but when Red Tornado loses control, that’s a pretty big problem. The story isn’t clear as to whether Tornado’s loss of control is related to the Starheart in the main story, but I rather hope it is, as it will give the second story a bit more weight.

Rating: 7/10

Tomorrow, some comics that have nothing to do with Brightest Day.

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26
Feb
10

Blackest Night February Roundup

We’re headed into the home stretch, friends. As of this writing,  I think there are only three Blackest Night issues left unreleased. Of course after that we’re heading into Brightest Day, so… well, anyway, we’re closing in on the end. But bfore we get there, I’m going to hit you guys with my reviews of all the chapters released in the last three weeks.

Adventure Comics #7: After taking a month “off” from Blackest Night to take care of that pesky main plot of the series, the shadow of the Black Lanterns falls on this title again. The heroes of the DC Universe who have come back from the dead are returned to that state, turned into Black Lanterns, and Nekron’s sense of irony pits Superboy against the girl he loves, Wonder Girl. Cassie and Krypto try to hold off the Black Lantern Superboy, while we readers ride along in Conner Kent’s head. Conner’s still conscious, you see, watching as the Black Lantern ring forces him to try to kill those closest to him.

Tony Bedard is only on Adventure Comics for this one issue, but he does a fine job of it. He really gets into Conner’s head (no pun intended) and gets across the anguish one would feel in his situation. There’s a nice callback to the story that brought Conner back, Legion of Three Worlds, as well.

Travis Moore does really great work on the artwork. I like his work with these characters, and I’d be very happy to see him get his hands on the Teen Titans one of these days. Conner, Cassie and Krypto all look really good in this book, as good as they read. This isn’t the most essential of the Blackest Night crossovers, but it’s one of the most fun.

Rating: 8/10

Blackest Night: The Flash #3: Finishing up Barry Allen’s miniseries, this issue we see as he and Wally confront the Black Lantern forms of some old friends and enemies, including Kid Flash. Geoff Johns works in some good moments for the Flash Family here, setting up relationships and plotlines that no doubt will continue to play off when he relaunches Barry’s ongoing series in a couple of months.

The Barry stuff isn’t quite as strong, however, as the great scenes with the Rogues. Owen Mercer, the young Captain Boomerang, has been seduced by the idea of a second chance with his dead father. The things he’s willing to do to placate daddy, however, go too far. You’ve got to love a villain with a moral code, no matter how twisted that code is, and this issue really plays it well.

Scott Kolins does his usual good work. I love the cover of this issue, with Barry in his resplendent Blue Lantern gear. But as with the story, the Rogues stuff is even better. There are some horrors to draw in this issue, and he does them well.

When this miniseries launched, I was afraid it wouldn’t have much of a story of its own, but would instead just fill in the blanks the way the Blackest Night: Wonder Woman series did. Fortunately, it worked out well. Although there were some between-the-pages bits here, the through-line of Barry facing his demons was fairly solid, and the Rogues’ plot was great. Johns has always done great work making B-list villains into A-list stars, and that’s what this miniseries did for us too.

Rating: 7/10

Green Lantern #51: Following up on issue #50, Hal Jordan has once again taken on the power of Parallax, this time willingly, to bring down the Black Lantern-possessed Spectre. Hal and the rest of the New Guardians have combine their might against the spirit of God’s vengeance turned into a power-mad monster.

The confrontation itself is good, but it’s rather reminiscent of the story Johns wrote back in Green Lantern: Rebirth that showed Hal breaking free of both the Spectre and Parallax for good. Doug Mahnke, fortunately, draws a fantastic interpretation of that battle.

The other good moments are those that don’t hearken back to that earlier comic — a confrontation between Lex Luthor and Larfleeze over the power of the Orange Lantern is really good, and I can definitely imagine it building up into a long-lasting rivalry between the two of them. There’s also a very ominous moment that I imagine is intended to set up some things either for Brightest Day or other future Green Lantern stories.

Not the best issue to date, but still a strong one.

Rating: 7/10

Green Lantern Corps #45: Guy Gardner, the newest Red Lantern, was instrumental in taking apart the Black Lanterns that were invading Oa. Now, though, still gripped by Red Rage, Guy’s comrades in the Green Lantern Corps — along with an Indigo Lantern and a Star Sapphire for good measure — have to try to snap him out of it before the rage consumes him forever.

This issue is all Guy’s, and if there was ever any doubt that Peter Tomasi was the right man to compose the upcoming Guy-centric ongoing Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, this book should do away with that. He’s got the character down and he knows how to paint his relationships with the rest of the Corps. It’s a great story and it really shows that he’s in good hands.

Patrick Gleason still does good work on the pencils. While perhaps not s flashy as Ivan Reis or Doug Mahnke, Gleason’s work on this book has been solid, and his assorted alien and Lantern designs click together well. The contrasting colors really help make the pages leap out at you.

A really good chapter of one of DC’s best comics.

Rating: 8/10

Green Arrow #30: Or “Black Lantern Green Arrow” if you prefer, this is the first issue of this series after the title has dropped the and Black Canary, which I’ve got to admit, bums me out. At least it doesn’t sound like they’re divorcing them or anything, but I just like the idea of them sharing a title together.

Anyway, J.T. Krul — who you may remember did some kick-ass work on the Titans tie-ins to this event — takes over the Green Arrow title beginning with this issue, and if this is any indication of his run, I’m on it with him. Like the Adventure Comics issue, in this issue we see Green Arrow transformed into a Black Lantern and forced to watch as his body goes around doing and saying horrible things to the people he loves, trying to wring their emotions out so he can do what Black Lanterns do and consume their hearts. As dark as this series has been overall, this may be one of the darkest chapters yet.

It’s also one of the best.

The emotions Krul evokes throughout this issue are powerful, deep, and spot-on the right way to pick away at the hearts of Green Arrow’s extended family. He pushes all the right buttons and turns what could have been a totally superfluous crossover into a masterpiece of character examination. Diogenes Neves steps up with the artwork, too, drawing an almost gothic tale that is a flawless match with the best of the crossovers in this event. Krul has won me over, getting me to the point where if his name is on the book, I’ll at least buy an issue to see where he’s going.

Rating: 10/10

Blackest Night: JSA #3: The last spin-off series comes to a close as the Justice Society members face the demons of their loved ones. Power Girl battles Superman of Earth-2, Jessie Quick races against her late father Johnny, and meanwhile Mr. Terrific puts that big brain of his to use looking for a way to stop the Black Lanterns entirely.

The confrontations in this issue are really strong. Although Power Girl was Superman’s cousin, the relationship between them was that of a father and daughter (as opposed to the more “big brother/little sister” relationship between our Superman and Supergirl). Add to that the actual father/daughter pairing of Johnny and Jessie, and you have two wonderfully deep, rich relationships for the Black Lanterns to pick apart.In both cases, you know the women are too smart to fall for the Lanterns’ ploy, but you can understand why they would want to believe their fathers have returned. It’s good stuff.

The Mr. Terrific scenes aren’t quite as good. You have Michael Holt (one of my favorite JSA characters by the way) gathering up some of the JSA’s magic-users to try to create a spell to drive out the Black Lanterns. The result is like one of those scenes in Star Trek where everything is resolved in the last five minutes when Scotty reroutes the power couplings through the Jeffries Tubes into the Dilithium Warp Hinkymadooky and someone looks at the screen and says, “Whew. That worked.” It’s a weak note to end on, which is a shame, because there’s a lot of good stuff in this issue.

Rating: 7/10

Blackest Night #7: The main event returns after January’s hiatus, with Black Hand and Nekron finally revealing their ultimate goal. One of the greatest secrets of the Guardians of the Universe is revealed, and a source of incredible power is uncovered… but who will wield it?

The reveal in this issue isn’t actually that big a surprise. It’s something I’ve been expecting for some time. But just who takes the initiative in this issue is a surprise, and an intriguing one. I’ve got no doubt that Geoff Johns has a brilliant plan in place for this. I love the “Charge of the Light Brigade” scene, I love the explanation behind the Guardians’ biggest secret, and I already intend to order the t-shirt that will inevitably be released to coincide with this issue. I just flat-out loved it.

And I’m gonna get spoilery in a minute, so if you haven’t read the issue yet, stop reading this after the rating.

Rating: 9/10

Okay, spoilery time. To absolutely nobody’s shock, this issue reveals the power of the White Lanterns, the force of light that invaded the universe and drove out the Black millions of years ago. And it’s interesting to see that Sinestro is the one who lurches forward and takes the power. (Even more interesting that, when Sinestro steps up, the avatar he creates is wearing his old Green Lantern uniform rather than his Sinestro Corps duds.)

The big question, though, is exactly what power does the White Lantern have? In describing the Entity that powers the White, Ganthet describes it as “the living light bestowed upon this universe that triggered existence itself.” We’ve also seen a hell of a lot of heroes die during the course of this story, and furthermore, there are a lot of dead ones we expect may well come back (the cover to the upcoming Brightest Day #1 being perhaps the best evidence of that). So, probably for the last time in this Blackest Night run, I’m putting out a theory. The power of the White Lantern is the power of life itself. And when we see a Black Lantern washed in the White Light, we’re going to see that Lantern brought back from the dead. Like, for real brought back, not just reanimated. This is how we’re going to get Aquaman back, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and several others… both those who died during this series and those who have been dead for a while.

Of course, if you’re a Black Lantern that has already been destroyed thanks to the combination of other Lantern lights, you’re already off the board, so no resurrection for you.

Sorry, Ralph and Sue.

08
Jan
10

What I’m Reading: A Month of Blackest Night!

Okay, so over the holidays I fell behind on my Blackest Night reviews. I’m sorry. I’m so… so sorry. Please forgive me.

Sniff.

Okay, now that that’s done, let’s talk about some comics! First, as promised, let me link you to my Comixtreme.com review of Superman/Batman #67. (I’m not going to duplicate full reviews from there over here, but I will point you in that direction.) Then, I’ll go through the rest of the tie-ins to the event of the year in the order in which they came out. There’s a lot of ’em here, so let’s get started!

Outsiders #25: Terra confronts her brother, begging him for help. She begs him to kill her, ending her existence as a Black Lantern… but is she being genuine, or is this just another example of Black Lanterns pulling the emotional strings of the living? Katana, meanwhile, faces her late husband, while Creeper does the surprise team-up thing with captive Killer Croc. As I’ve come to expect, Tomasi does a really good job nailing the emotions of each character. He sells us on each of them, working in great stuff for the Outsiders who are forced to face a dead love one, and having fun with those who don’t. Halo gets some very nice moments in this issue, and the Creeper/Croc team-up is a blast. I almost wish Croc was joining the cast of the book. We also get a feel for how the original members are somewhat divorced from the “newcomers” (namely Creeper and Owlman). The dynamic is interesting. Fernando Pasarin and Derec Donovan are the artists this month, and while both of them are good artists, their styles are really quite different. If you’re going to shift artists in one story, you need to get two artists whose styles mesh, and that’s not the case here. I’m sorry to see Tomasi leaving this book, but he had a good run.

Rating: 7/10

Justice League of America #40: In part two of “Reunion,” we watch as the remnants of the Detroit-era Justice League do battle with their less-fortunate teammates, and Gypsy and Vixen find no love lost with the dead Steel and Vibe. Zatanna continues her battle with her dead father, Red Tornado is out and Plastic Man can barely hold it together. James Robinson has a nice feel for these different characters, and even though most of them aren’t going to carry over to his regular JLA team, he makes them feel like significant, important characters, and that this is a story worth telling. The highlight of this issue, however, is the battle between Dr. Light and her late villain counterpart. Between this book and Superman, Robinson is doing really interesting stuff with Dr. Light, stuff I haven’t seen before. This is some of the best screen time the character has ever gotten, and I’m really glad she’s made the cut on the regular team. Mark Bagley has always been a fan favorite artist, but I must admit, all of his characters seem to look really young. Not a problem during his days on New Warriors or Ultimate Spider-Man, but it’s been noticable in stuff like Trinity. Fortunately, most of the new team is going to be relatively young, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Really good issue.

Rating: 8/10

Green Lantern Corps #43: After the staggering events of last issue, I have to admit, this one was a bit of a letdown. (If you haven’t read issue #42 yet be warned, spoilers follow.) Last month we watched as Kyle Rayner sacrificed his life to save the main power battery on Oa from an invading army of Black Lanterns. This month, his lover Soranik Natu struggles desperately to bring him back. As Soranik — a doctor as well as a Green Lantern — works on Kyle, his partner Guy Gardner allows himself to succumb to his rage… Guy Gardner is now a Red Lantern. The Guy stuff here is handled really well. Peter Tomasi has done a nice job of selling Kyle and Guy as buddies, and I’ve got no problem at all seeing Guy go red with anger at Kyle’s death. My only real beef here comes in the bits with Soranik Natu. (I’m going to try very hard not to spoil this particular issue, but that won’t be easy.) Soranik’s efforts have an interesting result. Nothing happens here that I didn’t expect, but I didn’t expect it to happen quite so quickly, and I feel like there was a missed opportunity to tell an interesting story or two in the meantime. There, I think that did it. I still liked this issue, but not as much as I expected to.

Rating: 7/10

Blackest Night: JSA #1: The last Blackest Night spin-off miniseries starts here with the creative team of Blackest Night: Superman picking up the story they began there. The Justice Society is caught off-guard when several of its Golden Age members — the original Sandman, Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific among others — rise from the dead and attack. Superman and Superboy, meanwhile, have brought the defeated Black Lantern Superman (of Earth-2) and Psycho-Pirate to the current Mr. Terrific to study and — hopefully — find a weakness. This issue takes place on the heels of Blackest Night #5, and it’s a nice way to shine a spotlight on these heroes in the midst of those events. While most of the zombie comparisons to these titles have been derisive, this is one of the few stories I’ve yet seen where the comparison is apt. Watching the still-living JSA members holed up in their headquarters, trying to stave off the swarm of Black Lanterns, has a definite Night of the Living Dead vibe to it, and I mean that as a compliment. James Robinson nails the mood of this piece, giving us a fantastic stand-off between the living and the dead. The plot threads carried over from Blackest Night: Superman are also solid. I don’t know if DC has really considered how these miniseries will be packaged in the inevitable trade paperback releases, but the two miniseries by Robinson and Eddy Barrows really should be collected together.

Rating: 8/10

Teen Titans #78: Why in the world has J.T. Krul not been given one of the Titans family books to write on an ongoing basis? I don’t even care which one. Between this two-parter and the previous Blackest Night: Titans miniseries, he’s shown a better grasp of these characters than any writer since Geoff Johns left. In fact, I’ll say this is one of the beast Deathstroke stories I have ever read. Ravager, last issue, hunted down her father with the intention of killing him. Instead, the two of them found themselves in an uneasy alliance, fighting for their lives against the Black Lanterns of their shared past. And just when things looked their worst, an unexpected ally arrived — Ravager’s brother and Deathstroke’s son, Jericho, who is looking in much better shape than he did the last time we saw him. The richness of the characters here is wonderful. Krul absolutely sells us on a genuine relationship between the father and children that makes sense and works perfectly in the context of the story. And while Deathstroke is still undeniably a bad guy (as he should be), this issue also manages to paint him as a father too, something that hasn’t been done very well since the days of Wolfman and Perez. There are a few things in this issue that make me believe there are plans in the works for Deathstroke, and in fact he’s supposedly joining the regular cast of the Titans series soon, but without Krul at the wheel, it’ll be hard to get me on board. He’s one of DC’s rising stars, and I’ll be anxiously watching where he goes next.

Rating: 9/10

Green Lantern #49: Since this event began, Geoff Johns has used the main Green Lantern title to basically tell the stories in-between issues of Blackest Night. This issue is no exception. While Hal Jordan has been assembling the “new Guardians” and Kyle and Guy are facing the dead of Oa, what’s been up with John Stewart? The fourth Green Lantern of Earth takes the spotlight this issue, as he has to face the dead of the planet Xanshi, a world he failed to save from destruction years ago. If that wasn’t bad enough, his dead wife Katma Tui is part of the assault. John is, in many ways, the Neglected Lantern these days. He had a bit more of a spotlight when he was on Justice League Unlimited, but he’s taken a back seat to Hal in the title they ostensibly share. This is a really good spotlight on John, and it comes not a moment too soon. What makes this issue more interesting, however, is the back-up story. In a “Tales From the Corps” story, we follow the Atom and Mera, who shrank down between the molecules of a Black Lantern ring. With the Black Lantern Jean Loring as their guide, the delve into the origins of Nekron himself, and find a valuable ally in the process — Deadman. This look back into the history of the Black Lanterns is pretty good, and even better is the fact that the always-welcome Jerry Ordway does the art. And when it’s over, it’s time to jump right into Blackest Night #6. So let’s shall we?

Rating: 8/10

Blackest Night #6: The only book that came out on December 30 is likely the book that would have been the best in any given week. Last issue, Nekron revealed that he’s been allowing people to “return” from the dead for years, setting them up as foot soldiers for this invasion. Now he’s turned the likes of Superman, Green Arrow, Superboy, Wonder Woman, and more into Black Lanterns, and the grand prize will be taking Hal Jordan and Barry Allen. As the two of them race for their lives — literally — Ganthet decides a little more firepower is needed for this battle to turn, and he begins a really interesting recruiting drive. The fanboy in me turned as giddy as a child on Christmas when I realized where this was going, and the final two-page spread had me as excited as I’ve been for a comic in a very long time. Beyond just the action figure potential of these pages, we’re seeing something that’s a hell of a lot of fun playing out against an intense backdrop. We’re seeing the restructuring of the Green Lantern Corps and DC’s cosmic side as a whole, we’re seeing characters like Ray Palmer and Mera (freaking Mera) raised to A-list status, and we’re getting it all under the prism of just beautiful art by Ivan Reis. Have I said I love this book? Because I’ll say it again. I. Love. This. Book.

Rating: 9/10

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2: Set between the pages of Blackest Night #6, this issue features Wonder Woman as a Black Lantern. As we’ve come to suspect, we see that the real person and the Black Lantern are separate entities, with one controlling the other. As Black Lantern Wonder Woman battles Wonder Girl and Mera, the “real” Wonder Woman, riding shotgun, struggles for freedom. The book also expands greatly upon the last few pages of Blackest Night #6, showing what happens to Wonder Woman there from a different perspective. In and of itself, the issue is fine. Greg Rucka is a good writer and knows Wonder Woman well. The art, by Nicola Scott and Eduardo Pansica, is very nice. Scott is one of DC’s greatest artistic assets right now, and they’d be insane not to try to get more high-profile work out of her. The issue here is that, unlike the other Blackest Night miniseries, this one doesn’t seem to be telling a solid story of its own. Instead, it seems to exist only to slip between the pages of the main event. That’s not quite enough for me. It’s not bad when it happens in a spin-off issue of an ongoing, especially one as tightly tied to the main book as Green Lantern is, but it seems a bit superfluous to create a miniseries expressly for that purpose. It will also make it a less satisfying read in collected edition later.

Rating: 6/10

Suicide Squad #67: There will be no issue of Blackest Night in January, which is very very sad, but that doesn’t mean the tie-ins will stop. In fact, DC is doing something pretty cool this month to come up with unique tie-ins. They’ve taken eight old series, books that have been canceled for years (or, in some cases, decades) and they’ve brought them back for one more issue. If the characters can come back from the dead, why not the titles, right? First up is Suicide Squad #67, written by Gail Simone and original series writer John Ostrander, with art by Jim Calafiore. As Simone is using former Squad member Deadshot to great effect in her Secret Six series, it only makes sense that this one-shot would tie in to that one. The Six and the Squad find themselves at odds when the Six are hired to break out a convicted drug dealer from the prison where the Squad is based. As the two teams face each other, the dead of the past begin to rise. This isn’t a bad issue, and it’s great as part of a crossover between the two teams, but the Blackest Night connection is actually pretty tenuous. It begins with one character rising from the dead, it ends with several more rising, but otherwise there’s no real connection. The story continues in next week’s Secret Six #17, so there’s more to come, but I can’t help but wish there was more here.

Rating: 7/10

Weird Western Tales #71: The next book brought back this month (and the last in this review-a-thon) is one of DC’s old-school western titles. The light-based hero called The Ray has managed to snare one of the Black Lantern rings, and he brings it to a facility in the west, near the mass graves of a slew of cowboys, soldiers, and Indians slain during the wild and wooly days of the DC Universe. The likes of Scalphunter, Super-Chief, Bat Lash, and the king of DC’s western tales himself, Jonah Hex, all rise to reclaim the ring. Honestly, I didn’t really have high expectations for this book — it seemed a bit more of a stunt than some of the other “dead” titles brought back here — but I was pleasantly surprised. DC’s executive editor, Dan Didio, has put together a story that is suitably creepy — in fact, this too has the hopeless horror movie feel of a great zombie flick — but he also managed to capture the flavor of a western in the process. That sort of combination isn’t easy. Renato Arlem‘s artwork fits in nicely, and the result is a book that’s actually better than it should be.

Rating: 7/10

So that’s it, friends. I’m all caught up, and actually, I kind of like this format. I have no intention of letting another month go by with no reviews, but from now on, I may do a single weekly review post instead of separate ones for each title. Seems more efficient that way, doesn’t it?

27
Nov
09

What I’m Reading: Teen Titans #77

The core Teen Titans are busy getting into seriously nasty stuff over in Blackest Night #5 this week, so the title is handed off to former member and usual back-up feature star Ravager, in a story written by the Blackest Night: Titans writer J.T. Krul.

Ravager has finally tracked down her father, the murderous assassin called Deathstroke. The confrontation between the two of them is heated enough, but when you come from a family of assassins, you’ve got a lot of Black Lanterns out to hunt you down. Daddy and daughter are forced to work together against demons from their past, both blood and otherwise. Krul again has taken characters that haven’t been living up to their potential lately and made them really strong characters. In the course of this story, you can feel the conflict within both characters, long before the Black Lanterns crash the party.

This is the kind of thing these two should be doing. While Deathstroke never felt right as the anti-hero he was made out to be for much of the 90s, he does still have his own code of honor and, more importantly, a sense of family that’s important to him. Even when his own daughter would rather see him dead. Krul manages to tap into a really great slate of characters to turn on the Wilsons as well — some of the Black Lanterns most likely to mess with their heads (which, of course, has been the primary function of the Black Lanterns to date).

Joe Bennett‘s given us some pretty solid artwork too. He does some of the best work on the Wilsons, Slade and Rose both, and I love his Black Lanterns. While we’ve seen a lot of the same basic page this month (Black Lanterns bursting from their own graves), he does it well. This is truly one of the strongest issues of Teen Titans in quite a while, and none of the main cast even appears in it. Dan DiDio has named Krul as a writer to watch. I hope he gets a regular assignment soon.

Rating: 8/10

30
Oct
09

What I’m Reading: Blackest Night-Titans #3

Blackest Night: Titans #3Continuing to surprise me with its unexpected levels of awesometude, Blackest Night: Titans #3 wraps up J.T. Krul and Ed Benes‘s exploration of what the rising dead mean for DC’s not-ready-for-prime-time superheroes. With two dead Hawks leading the charge of the Black Lantern Titans against the living variety, our heroes are facing some hard choices. Donna Troy, wounded by the undead form of her infant son, fears what the infection will do to her if left unchecked. Beast Boy is forced to face the truth of his greatest loss, and Dove may somehow hold the key to salvation.

Donna, Garth and Dawn really tale the spotlight this issue, with each of them making terrible, gut-wrenching choices that do more for their characterization as true heroes than any other comics of the past three years. Krul puts them each through seven kinds of Hell, but the fact that they can rise the way they do is nothing short of remarkable. Dove’s importance to the overall Black Lantern story seems to mark this book as a more direct tie to the main series than some of the others, but other threads promise to lead into the upcoming two-part crossovers in Teen Titans and Outsiders as well. While all three of the spin-off miniseries thus far have been wonderful reads, this surprises by potentially being the most significant.

Rating: 9/10

 

02
Oct
09

What I’m Reading: Blackest Night-Titans #2

Blackest Night: Titans #2I picked up the most recent issue of Titans, having been impressed with the Blackest Night prelude in issue #15 and this mini-series. DC really should have just run the three Blackest Night issues in the regular book, because this is way better than that stuff.

The Titans’ beloved dead are attacking both teams of Titans, but the older squad is getting the brunt of it. Dove has to watch as her sister, the new Hawk, is transformed into a Black Lantern by her former partner, the original Hawk. The two Black Lanterns have a dandy ol’ team-up, but there’s still something mysterious going on with Dove, something that’s protecting her from the power of the Black Lanterns in a way that most people in the DC are not. You think she’s got it bad, though, think about Beast Boy. He’s throwing down with Terra, the girl he loved even after discovering she was a traitor to the team. And his friends are facing Omen, who is using their own hopes and desires against them. But Donna Troy, inarguably, has it the worst, facing the corpses both of her dead husband, and her infant son.

Yeah, the cover of this issue is literal.

This miniseries is really hitting. J.T. Krul makes me feel for the characters in a way that no one else has in quite a while. Donna’s loss is tragic, and made only more so here. Beast Boy is much more than the caricature he’s become in other comics, and the appearance of the Teens works very well. Plus, this book seems poised to answer the eternal (well… since May) question: what happens if a Black Lantern bites you?

Ed Benes‘ artwork is as good as ever — clean, exciting, and he draws nifty Black Lanterns. I’m really enjoying this miniseries. If this was the creative team on the ongoing, I’d pick it up.

Rating: 8/10

27
Aug
09

What I’m Reading: Blackest Night-Titans #1

Blackest Night: Titans #1As far as DC’s big-name titles go, Titans hasn’t been one that has impressed me in a long time. It seems that DC’s 20-something heroes suffer something of an identity crisis. They aren’t “Teen” Titans anymore, but the older generation is still around so they can’t really graduate to Justice League status. As such, they exist in a limbo. One writer after another has tried for years to do something with them, and nothing has really worked.

So how is it that Blackest Night: Titans #1 kicks so much ass?

J.T. Krul, who also wrote the wonderful prelude in Titans #15, presents us with members of both the Teen and adult Titans teams, past and present, coming together to remember their dead (as seen in Blackest Night #1). Several of our heroes are focusing on specific people they’ve loved and lost — Beast Boy remembers the disgraced traitor, Terra, whom he loved. For Donna Troy, she remembers her dead husband and child. The current Hawk and Dove remember the first siblings to carry those names… well, you get the picture.

As the dead begin to rise, the Titans find themselves targeted by some of the most cruel Black Lanterns yet, toying with their emotions to a degree unseen in many of the other tie-ins.

We also see some development of a plot thread that began in Blackest Night #2, when the corpse of Don Hall — the first Dove — could not be raised from the dead. When we see Dawn, the current Dove, through “Black Lantern Vision,” she doesn’t register in any of the emotional colors we’ve seen thus far. She appears as white, and the Black Lanterns don’t record an emotion. Dawn, and Don before her, is an emissary of the forces of peace. Up until now, I’ve been theorizing that is there is indeed a “White Lantern Corps” to counteract the Black, they would represent Life. But is it possible that the White Lanterns could actually represent peace? Is it possible that the reason Don cannot be raised by the Black Lanterns is because he is literally “At Peace,” and has been recruited as an agent of the White?

Rating: 9/10




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