Monthly archives: April, 2007

World War III: United We Stand

Part four picks up with virtually every DC hero–sans the big three, but including Power Girl’s jubblies–standing at the Great Wall of China while Black Adam wails on China’s Great Ten. The divergent plot lines–the resurrection of the Suicide Squad, Martian Manhunter’s soul searching and Black Adams’s rampage, collide with heart-punching results.

World War II: United We StandGreen Lantern Alan Scott, Hero Emeritus, leads the charge in the most brutal battle since Superboy Prime punched Panthra’s head off in Infinite Crisis #4.

But short of a final page teaser involving a satellite of Monitors (not VGAs), there’s really not a whole lot to WWIII: United We Stand. Sure, some minor heroes you probably don’t care about die. Sure, J’onn J’onzz’s lifestyle change is half-heartedly explained. Ultimately, though, World War III is exposition, presumably for Countdown, which is now only three weeks away, kind of in the same way that Civil War ended up being mostly exposition for the new status quo in the Marvel universe.

DC convinced me to go to the comic book store every week with Infinite Crisis. Finally finding out what led to the One Year Later changes is not really as exciting as you’d have thought. It’s like figuring out how the magician does his magic trick, then seeing that magician turn into a squid-faced, water-armed amnesiac. But damn it if DC didn’t just compel me to make sure I buy Countdown for the next year. Curse you DC!

World War III: Hell is for Heroes

In what could very well be the biggest World War in comics this year, we’ve already seen death counts soaring into the millions, lots of B-list heroes straining to save the day, Black Adam pulling off some serious ass-stomping and even a bundle of answers to those pesky One Year Later mysteries.

hell is for heroesIn this fourth World War III book, Hell is for Heroes, the attention is focused largely on the continued battling between Black Adam and the Teen Titans (who sport an amazingly unimpressive roster), some random expository moments with other characters needing their OYL status quo changes explained and a whole lot of the original Manhunter flying around and being, well, weird. Now, let’s cut to the quick of this issue, Worst to First style:

Worst: Didio’s DC Nation column

Hmmm. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to essentially come out publically and admit that this World War III stuff was just kind of randomly thrown out there, despite all the careful plotting and planning that had brought a lot of new readers to DC in the past couple years. Just a thought. So, instead of us readers getting a full series devoted to explaining the “missing year,” we get a world war with a bunch of under-cooked revelations shoe-horned in.

Just as bad: The timing

Right now, not far from everyone’s thoughts is the massacre at Virginia Tech. Reading a comic book filled with violence during this week is about the last thing anyone wants to do. I’m not saying entertainment shouldn’t have violence, and obviously DC couldn’t pull this event in light of what happened. It’s just unfortunate, but that doesn’t change that it colors the reading experience.

Lacking: Black Adam, part one

Ever since the ol’ evil Mr. Marvel did a reverse through-the-brains eye poke on Psycho Pirate in Infinite Crisis, he’s been the bad-ass du jour in the DCU. This wasn’t the case so much in the other issues of WW3, but he doesn’t get a lot of panel time in Hell is for Heroes. Understandable, sure, but this whole she-bang centers on him. In general, I did think the series could’ve used a lot more of Black Adam, but that ties into my next point…

Marginally annoying: The narration

It was a mistake to use J’onn as the narrator for WW3 (oops, I just stole Jim Doom’s gimmick). For one, we all already know that his OYL series is a pile of crap, so there’s no interest in him. Yes, he provides the outsider looking in at humanity, but this story is about BLACK ADAM. He should be the central point, if anything. After all, the writers set him up as a very different sort of villain (one whose outburst is understandable). Why not go ahead and show things from his perspective? Oh, I know why. It’s because DC needed to shoe-horn in all the OYL explanations, and J’onn is omniscient, and omniscient third-person narration happens to be the easiest way to tell a story.

Just marginal: The OYL explanations

Okay, I swear, I won’t do any more clever segues. Now, in some of the WW3 issues (and in the Nightwing Annual), we get decent answers for the OYL questions. But this issue covers the characters that don’t really matter that much. Mostly, it spins tires on the whole Checkmate situation, which I just don’t give two hoots about. Also, a few pages are devoted to the other Manhunter, the female one who doesn’t come from Mars. It packs way too little punch for the space it consumes.

Speaking of decent: The deaths

Killing off Grant Morrison’s Frankenstein creature carried about as much heft as Clor biting the dust in Civil War. They’re both not really alive. Nobody cares about either. Meh. At least Frankenstein went with the whole arms-ripped-off routine. The death of Terra, though, served as a terrifying climax to the issue. I hated to see it happen, even though I don’t know a thing about the character. Chalk that up to good writing.

Best: Black Adam, part one

When he was around, he wreaked some epic damage. What was really well done in this issue was the use of Black Adam’s temper to define his character. He was simply trying to avenge the deaths of Isis and Osiris, and he didn’t want to fight or kill any of the heroes. But, when pushed too far, he snapped.

World War III: The Valiant

Part two of most major storylines usually ends up being the exposition issue. WWIII is no different. After setting up the big battle in A Call to Arms, the story moves on to explaining exactly what happened to five heroes that underwent major changes after Infinite Crisis but before One Year Later. While it didn’t make for an especially exciting story, it did have its moments.

The ValiantContinuity Explanation #1 of the Issue- Supergirl from Supergirl & The Legion of Superheroes returned to the regular DC timeline before her appearance in Up, Up and Away

The issue opens with Supergirl emerging from some sort of wormhole around the wings of Saturn. It’s alluded to in the narration that she was returning from the future she was sent to after the Zeta beam screwed up at the end of IC. Supergirl, who apparently isn’t getting very good reception, is hurtled uncontrollably towards Earth. Before she crash-lands in Metropolis, Kara passes through the Martian Manhunter, who’s still in outer space after going slightly crazy last issue. It doesn’t go well for either of them.

Continuity Explanation #2 of the Issue- Harvey Dent was indeed left in charge of Gotham by Batman

After J’onn regains his composure, the story heads to Gotham City, where Harvey Dent is fighting Killer Croc. Apparently Batman did put his old friend in charge of Gotham while he was away. Even though Batwoman, Nightwing and more were there helping him. Deathstroke and Batgirl watch the fight from a rooftop, and the Terminator explains to Batgirl that Batman didn’t trust her to protect Gotham, because she’s a killer at heart. The mere fact that Batgirl allowed Deathstroke to talk with her and leave of his own free will means she might not be the innocent victim she’s being portrayed as in Teen Titans. Interesting…

After returning to J’onn once again, the tale heads to Pisa, Italy, where Black Adam is battling the Doom Patrol. Booster Gold pops in above the fight, wristbands a-blazin’. He proclaims “This is not the right time. I’m too soon.” before popping back into the time stream, completely unnoticed by the battle below. Was this a reference to one of his two appearances in 52 Week 50, or some other point in time we’ve yet to see?

Continuity Explanation #3 of the Issue- Aquaman became the Dweller in the Depths in exchange for returning San Diego to the surface

After a quick aside with Donna Troy in full Wonder Woman regalia, the story heads to Sub Diego, where Aquaman is making a bargain with some sort of water deities. I didn’t read Aquaman pre-OYL, so this probably makes more sense to others than it did to me. Somehow Aquaman uses the magic bones from the hand he lost to return Sub Diego to the surface, saving its inhabitants in the process. But seeing as how all pagan gods like to play tricks on us foolish mortals, Aquaman was transformed into the Dweller in the Depths as a result. The Dweller’s first words are an interesting choice: “And so…it begins.”

The issue ends by once again going back to Martian Manhunter. He looks shaken by all the conflicting emotions radiating from Earth, and decides that he must take action against the cause. Something tells me Black Adam’s not going to be too happy about that choice.

World War III: A Call to Arms

The story too big to fit in the pages of 52 begins here in World War III: A Call to Arms.

I thought maybe I could use my gimmick of clever segues to recap a series defined by its rigidly linear approach to storytelling. However, the miniseries jumps back in time to Day 5 of Week 45, declaring a non-linear approach to the war story from page 1. Martian Manhunter has decided to bring the fight to Black Adam. Black Adam makes pretty short work of the moldable moldy man, utilizing the very same lightning that would be his undoing in the pages of 52 as well as J’onzz’s own telepathy to dispatch any threat he might bring.

Which leads us to day 1 of week 50 (actually it doesn’t lead us to that, since jump pretty far ahead), which happen even before the events of this week’s issue of 52. The world is reacting to the Black Adam rampage, and it’s apparently causing terror and disorder in regions far removed from the danger.

In an undisclosed location in the Atlantic, some Clockwork Orange-looking guy, apparently known as Father Time (I have never seen these guys before in my life) tries to stop Adam, but everybody in this posse gets their heads bashed in or faces ripped off. I’m not sure of Father Time’s abilities, but apparently one of them is to transform from a bald black man into a haired white man upon having his face ripped off.

Black Adam’s frustration with America’s attack prompts him to pick up an aircraft carrier and throw it to the United States. I’m not sure what kind of spiral Adam put on that carrier, but it takes long enough for a handful of goons in New York City to take advantage of the anticipatory panic and organize some heists. This introduces us to Nightwing. At first I thought we were seeing the edgy man whore OYL Dick Grayson, but it soon becomes apparent that this is the edgy for-profit vigilante OYL Jason Todd in Dick’s clothes.

This leads us to an exchange I couldn’t possibly care less about between Firestorm and Firehawk. Apparently, the kid who is now Firestorm has to kiss Firehawk in order to become the flame-headed superhero, thus rendering her nothing more than a floating head. Maybe I have to know more about Firestorm in order to understand this, but the problem is, I’ve never EVER cared enough about Firestorm to want to know more, and this cameo made me want to pursue further Firestorm knowledge even less. So this segment just totally bombed with me. He eventually got rid of the aircraft carrier, but we also wasted about 2 pages so he could shoot, miss, and take a nap on a rooftop.

This deluge of dullness leads us to a rapid-fire peek into the rest of the world, in which we see Father Time already in a hospital bed “due to molt any day now” (seriously, how long was that aircraft carrier flying through the air? Long enough to get Father Time – again a bald black man – to a hospital where he’s already partially recovered and being visited by the Bride of Frankenstein), the Great Pyramids badly damaged, Adam throwing punches, Sub Diegans suddenly drowning, Donna Troy looking at some Wonder Woman armor on the ground, the Doom Patrol manning up, Batgirl getting a pep-talk, Harvey Dent apparently just now – 50 weeks after being put on duty – deciding it’s “time to put bat’s training to the test,” Jason Todd taking the money and running, the battle spreading, bodies rotting and bleeding…

Which leads us to three pages of the giant mess of awareness that has turned the Martian Manhunter into a paralyzed fetus in space in a condition he’s been in for the past five weeks.

In case it’s not already evident, I was really let down by this book. Here’s what you need to know: Black Adam’s reign of terror has sent social shockwaves around the world. The DC B-team is doing their best to stop him. A few folks, including Firestorm and Jason “Nightwing” Todd, have stepped up to fill the void left by the absent Big Three. Martian Manhunter has been knocked out of commission after his attempt to take down Adam by himself. I can’t really say where that leaves us, since the story already ended in the pages of 52.

And while I opened this book hoping for something larger than life, I think I just ended up getting something unbelievable. That’s not what I was anticipating. As the rest of the Legion continues embedded in World War III, let’s hope they enjoy it more than I have so far.

World War III: Week Fifty

World War III is here, and it is one heck of a barn-burning slobber knocker. Throughout the course of week fifty, Black Adam runs the gamut, blasting through Egypt, Australia, Italy, and, finally, China, where he hopes to destroy the government responsible for…well, pretty much every terrible thing that’s happened to him so far in “52.”
52 week 50
The Great Ten of China still have a closed-borders policy, and they’re adamant about ending the fight themselves. Yeah, right. So, after Black Adam’s killed most of them, August General-in-Iron allows for international help, bringing in…well, pretty much every superhero there is to stop Black Adam. On the double splash page, you can spot the likes of not only the JSA, Teen Titans, and Infinity Inc (who eventually turn tail and run like cowards), but Plastic Man, Guy Gardner, Firestorm, Steel, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Arsenal, Martian Manhunter, John Stewart, Hawkgirl, and a couple of those F-listers from the quickly disbanded worthless JLA that appeared back in Week Twenty-Four. Sadly, Ambush Bug doesn’t have the stones to step up.

In the end, the magic people (Shadowpact and Captain Marvel) develop a plan to take Adam’s powers away by bringing him to the lightning (since they can’t get him to say the word on his own), stripping him of his powers and, subsequently, changing his magic word, so that he’ll never know how to get them back. In the midst of the aftermath following the explosive lightning claps, Atom Smasher (who still believes in the good in the big bad villain) catches Black Adam and lets him go free. The last we see of Adam, he’s walking through the streets of Egypt, mumbling magic words to himself in the hopes that one of them will work. He should try out, “Woozle Wuzzle.”

In the end, it’s not all about the war, however. Professor Morrow gets hold of Red Tornado’s head; hears the “52” voicebox repeat that we first heard way back in Week Five; pops open the head to see what “Reddy” (by the way, I hate that nickname) saw at the fringes of the galaxy; and the results blow his mind. At that point, he’s confronted by Booster Gold and Rip Hunter, who are ready to take some action.

All in all, this issue delivered what it promised. A gigantic war in one issue, involving nearly every active hero in the DCU. I still haven’t read through the supplemental issues, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I do have one complaint, however, and it is rather large. The art simply isn’t good. Granted, there’s absolutely no way it could live up to the breathtakingly beautiful cover, but, damn, it downright sucks in a lot of places. For such a large event, why not bring in Jiminez or some other big gun? Who the heck is Justiniano, anyway? Is this the first comic he’s ever drawn? Quite the place for a debut.

The story stands on its own, though, and I’m completely satisfied with that side of things. And, boy, oh boy, can I not wait for the next two weeks. I’ve been wondering where Booster and Rip have been. It’s going to be an exciting couple of issues.

Our “World War III” coverage doesn’t end here, though. Come back all day to read recaps and reactions by the other members of the Legion, as they focus on each of the four supplemental issues that accompany “52.” Jim Doom will give us his take on “A Call to Arms” in just a few short hours. And, after it’s all said and done, and all the reviews are posted up, come back on Saturday for a group discussion covering all the fall-out of this gigantic week.

As for me and my “52” reviews, though?

See ya in seven.

World War III

World War IIIAfter months of buildup, the biggest event of “52” is finally here. World War III. We here at the Legion of Doom have decided to give this momentous event the full coverage it deserves, devoting an entire day to what’s been dubbed “Black Adam versus the World.” Not only will we bring you in-depth looks at each of the four supplemental issues, but we will also be bringing you analysis of the war as depicted in the pages of “52” itself, along with a round-table discussion featuring all members of the Legion this coming Saturday.

Here’s what to expect, in proper reading order. All times are Eastern:

3:00pm – Doom DeLuise tackles the event as it takes place in Week Fifty of 52.

8:00pm – Jim Doom delves into the first of the four supplementals, “A Call to Arms.” As described by DC: “It is a day of infamy. Chaos has broken out across the globe, and Firestorm and Firehawk are among the many mobilizing to stem the flow of blood and thunder.”

9:00pm – Fin Fang Doom brings us analysis of “The Valiant.” Here’s what DC says about it: “The war rages on, extending from the far reaches of space, where Supergirl encounters a missing hero, to the darkest depths of the ocean, where the fate of Aquaman is revealed.”

10:00pm – Jean-Claude Van Doom offers us his insight on “Hell is for Heroes.” The solicitation reads: “The horrors of war become grim reality for the Teen Titans, as they suffer the loss of one of their own.”

11:00pm – Colonel Doom rounds out the coverage with his views on “United We Stand.” The description, as offered by DC: “Through the fog of war, a hero is reborn, and the DC Universe bands together against the wrath of an ancient evil!”

Then, on Saturday, we all return in a group discussion to recap the events of the war, along with predictions of what lays in store for the final two weeks of 52. Join us with your own thoughts, comments, and insights, all day tomorrow and this weekend, as World War III takes stage, front and center.

Previews: Boom! Studios

The fine folks at Boom! Studios sent over a trio of new books, so I wanted to share the advance look with our readers. They’re three pretty widely different series, though everything from Boom! falls into that over-arcing “guy stuff” label. Zombies? Check. Action? Check. Lovecraftian suspense? Check.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketLet’s start out with Fall of Cthulhu (all these books are $3.99), the aforementioned Lovecraft modernization. The cover on the copy sent to me isn’t the same as that pictured here, but both are pretty cool (mine shows some giant tentacle-y creature with wings and people worshipping). One interesting thing about Boom! is how almost all of their books have the same coloring style (I don’t know why I bring this up here, but bear with me). It’s a sort of gentle fade that gives the art a more life-like feel than the extremely superhero-y stuff from most publishers. It’s a subtle way that the company accomplishes its goal of creating books that are aimed at the same target audience as DC and Marvel stuff, but varies significantly in tone and content.

That aside, this first issue was lots of set-up with not a whole lot of action, aside from a suicide that didn’t hold quite enough impact and a later dream sequence that more than made up for it. There’s way too much expository dialogue (if Boom! needs anything, it’s better editors), but there are some very good layouts in this establishing effort. I’d call next issue the make-or-break one, but worth checking out.

The Doomino Effect for the week of Apr 11, 2007

Well friends, this week’s Doomino Effect is much like when your mother cleans your room and puts all your stuff in places where you can’t find it. I don’t know where my doominoes are and I don’t know where the comics I bought last week are either.

So this week’s Doomino Effect is all from memory. Much like old people look back on better days and think that playing dominoes was fun, I’m going to review my comics with only the memories of reading them.

First up is Green Arrow #73, which focused more on Oliver Queen the mayor than Green Arrow the guy in green who shoots arrows. Jean-Claude Van Doom didn’t like the series’ return to the political side, but the political aspect of the book is what hooked me in the first place, so I was pleased. Green Arrow obviously has a long history of being intertwined with politics of the day, and Judd Winick has been handling Oliver Queen’s battles in the media and the polls quite well. The big bummer is that, since Green Arrow is being canceled with issue #75, one of my favorite books is going away soon.

Speaking of going away, that leads me to Ghost Rider #10, in which GR continues his quest to send Satan back downstairs. I have read some harsh, harsh reviews of this series, but I love it. I said it in a review of a previous issue, but this book has a charming balance of horror and campy humor that is just perfect for Ghost Rider in 2007. It’s not ashamed to be what it is, to the point of being cheap and self-deprecatory, but it’s also not obsessed with its own darkness as you might expect the book to be in the 90s. There was a scene in which the devil was trying to coordinate the efforts of his recently revived zombie army that had me laughing out loud. I’d love to tell you more about it but I lost my comics.

Speaking of an army of zombies, that leads me to New Avengers #29 in which the New Avengers continue to battle the red ninja brigade of Elektra and The Hand while also telling the story of how the New Avengers got away from the Mighty Avengers. I do really feel for people who have such a hatred of Brian Michael Bendis that they won’t allow themselves to enjoy this series. New Avengers has been my favorite monthly comic since Civil War started, and this issue has the delightful combination of action, drama and laugh-out-loud humor, not to mention the always amazing art of Leinil Yu.

I love the characterization. Luke Cage as the de facto leader. Doctor Strange as the reluctant participant. Spider Man as the wise-cracker. Tony Stark as the wise cracker. Carol Danvers as the frustrated soldier. I love the interactions, like Iron Man’s confrontation with Danny Rand, Doctor Strange’s escape plan, and Spider Man’s battle with dramatic tension. This is a fantastic book, month in and month out, and I’m glad that enough people agree with me so that Bendis gets the clout and free reign to do it how he wants to.

I also bought Uncanny X-Men #485 but I’ll be darned if I remember anything about it.

Meaningless Awards of the Week- 4/11/07

Thunderbolts 113Understatement of the Week- Norman Osborn is “bipolar,” Thunderbolts #113

If by “bipolar” you mean “sometimes manipulatively evil, sometimes just batsh*# crazy,” then yes, I guess you could say that Norman Osborn is bipolar. But regardless of what you call it, it’s fun to watch.

When the creative overhaul of Thunderbolts was announced a while ago, I was really disappointed, mainly because I still really enjoyed what Fabian Nicienza was doing with the series. But Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato have quickly won me over with the story been telling so far. They’ve brought the Thunderbolts back to they’re roots: replace Baron Zemo with Norman Osborn and the story essentially the same as the first year of the Thunderbolts. Osborn is using a group of villains and would-be heroes to further his own agenda while Moonstone is secretly plotting to overthrow him and take over the team. In fact, somebody undermining the leadership of the team has been a recurring theme throughout the entire series. Warren Ellis and Marvel may have a better grasp on the concept of the Thunderbolts than I give them credit for.

Buzzkill of the Week- Tony Stark, She-Hulk #17

I can’t get behind Iron Man anymore. After Civil War, I just don’t like him. He doesn’t seem like a decent human being anymore. He did some pretty bad stuff to some pretty good people and hasn’t shown any remorse about it (at least not in any of the comics I read). He manipulated Peter Parker, he beat up Captain America, and he murdered Goliath. And he was rewarded for those things by being named director of SHIELD.

So that kind of spoiled this week’s issue of She-Hulk a little. A year ago I would have thought it was cool to see She-Hulk teaming up with Iron Man; now I just wanted him to go away. A year ago I would have thought it was funny that She-Hulk slept with Tony Stark; now I feel bad that such a great character was sleeping with such a dirtbag. A year ago I would have thought it was bad to have the SHIELD Helicarrier taken over by a villain; now I’m glad it happened on Tony’s watch.

Marvel built Tony Stark up as one of the biggest villains in the history of the Marvel Universe during Civil War. Regardless of what Marvel editorial may claim, he wasn’t presented in any sort of positive light throughout the entire thing. Now that Civil War is over, Iron Man is a hero once again. At least that’s what Marvel’s telling me, even though they haven’t given me a reason to consider him a hero again.

I’m begging you Marvel, give me a reason. Have him save the world. Have him rescue a little girl’s kitty from a tree. Have him make amends with the heroes that didn’t register. Hell, have anyone of those nonregistered heroes just say “Y’know, I guess Tony’s not such a bad guy after all.” I’ve never been a fan of Iron Man, and I probably never will be, but I’d rather feel indifferent towards someone that’s supposed to be a hero than hate him outright. (more…)

Book of Doom: Nova #1

novaRising from the pages of Annihilation, Nova gets a fresh new series this week, and it just so happens to be the topic of this week’s Book of Doom, where you get four (or sometimes three or two) reviews for the price of one. Due to the Husker football spring game, I’ve been at work non-stop since Friday, so my apologies for the one-day lateness, for those of you out there who like to keep track of that sort of thing.

That aside, I’d like to say up front that I really enjoyed this issue. The writers (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) are the guys responsible for last year’s Annihilation mini-series, so they obviously know the character of Nova, and, as they showed in that mini (as well as this debut issue), they also have a heck of a knack for coupling awesome one-liners with exciting moments of action. The basic plot of this issue follows Nova as he, the sole surviving member of the Nova Corps, as well as the bearer of the entirety of the Corps’ power, goes on a streak through the galaxy, from one world-shattering crisis to the next, policing as many planets as possible, as quickly as possible, before breaking down and wiping out. At the issue’s close, he decides to come home to Earth, where Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D await.

It’s a fun book, and it’s very action packed. The idea of Nova returning to an entirely different Earth, thanks to the events of Civil War, packs some interesting implications, and it’ll be quite the read in the coming months as he deals with Superhuman Registration and the deaths of his former teammates, the New Warriors. I loved Annihilation, and I’m 100% on board for Nova.

But, before I go thinking that I have the last word on this one, I’ll defer to my fellow members of the Legion. Take a look at their thoughts after the break: (more…)