The Doomino Effect for the week of February 20, 2008

Grendel: Behold the Devil #4 of 8 is the latest chapter in what has been a fun little story of the normally untouchable and unruffleable Hunter Rose losing his grip. He’s having problems with his empire of crime, and the paranoia is causing those problems to trickle down into the rest of his life. Meanwhile, the romantic duo of a reporter and a detective are inching closer to a discovery that at least one of them is a little afraid to make.

The pacing is a little slow, but overall I’m enjoying the way it’s unfolding. With the way the story is going, and with the excerpts from a future memoir interjected alongside the story’s events, I almost have the feeling like we might be in the middle of the last Grendel story.

Speaking of final stories, that leads me to Death of the New Gods #6 of 8, in which all the New Gods are still getting killed, like Orion. The cover says he’s “unleashed,” but maybe on New Genesis, “unleashed” is a synonym for “dead” or “exploded.”

I’d say this is probably the dumbest comic that I keep buying, but if nothing else, I give DC and Jim Starlin credit for trying to get rid of Jack Kirby’s stupid Fourth World in an honorable effort. You can tell they’re really trying to make these stupid characters and this awful mythology seem better than it is in order to try to make this sendoff mean something.

Last issue, we learned what The Source was up to. This issue, our big reveal is THE IDENTITY OF THE KILLER! I’m halfway tempted to go back and read the previous issues to see if there were any clues or if this was just out of the blue, but I quickly realized that my apathy toward this series and these characters outweighs my tiny, tiny shred of professional curiosity.

Regular readers of this column may have grown tired of the endless contrasts and comparisons between the Countdown to Infinite Crisis and the Countdown to Final Crisis, but tough.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis excelled by making me – at the time a brand new DC Comics reader – care about characters I knew little to nothing about. Countdown to Final Crisis makes me look at these characters I know little to nothing about and feel wise that I never took the time or effort to learn more or start caring about them.

I was first thinking that I’d have no problem mentioning who the killer was, since I have so little respect for this series or these characters. But instead, I realize that I have so little respect for this series or these characters that it really isn’t even worth mentioning who killed them all. Bah humbug.

Man, speaking of surprise endings though, that leads me to Madman #6. This came out several weeks ago, but I just figured out this week that I had forgotten to read it! So I dug it out of my pile and put it with my shiny new stack.

I can’t believe that an ending like this was just sitting unread in a dark corner of my office! Well, I mean I can, because I saw it there, but if I’d have had any idea that something like this was going to happen, I’d think that I’d have wanted to read it right away.

This is a book that I think is done very well, with characters totally worth caring about, so I WILL NOT reveal the surprise here. But if it’s real, and not any kind of illusion or trick or dream or anything, it makes me very very sad for the characters involved and I hope that it was done with a big plan in mind. Because this changes one of the most heartwarming things in All of Comic Books from the past two decades.

I guess all I can say is, I trust Mike Allred.

But hey, speaking of Mike Allred, that leads me to The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death.

I had some reservations about Iron Fist when I started reading it with issue #8, but I’ve kept buying it and also went back and picked up the first trade. Since then, I’ve not only become a huge fan, had all my concerns from the aforementioned issue erased, and picked up every issue since, but I’ve also gotten really intrigued by the story of Orson Randall, essentially the “Golden Age” Iron Fist.

This story covers the history between Orson Randall and The Prince of Orphans, now one of the major characters in the current Iron Fist storyline. Each of the four parts has its own art team, and Michael Allred, Stefano Gaudiano and Mitch Breitweiser are among the more notable names contributing.

Randall is just such a cool character. It’s a shame he was only around as long as he was, but hopefully Marvel will do some more stuff like this where they can flesh out his history. And if they do, I would request the art team of Lewis LaRosa, Stefano Gaudiano and Matt Hollingsworth. The chapter at the castle is beautiful.

The only weak spot is the strange chapter 2, in which one of Randall’s cohorts is trapped in a wild west jail cell guarded by scantily clad busty cowgirls. It makes more sense when you consider that these are tales of the Golden Age, so everything is pulped-up a bit. But it stands out, not in a good way, and the art’s sub-par.

And speaking of scantily clad busty cowgirls, that leads me to Mighty Avengers #9, which starts with Doctor Doom back in time after doing the nasty with a scantily clad busty sorceress. Apparently he goes back in time to roll in the hay with this foxy witch, who in return, teaches him a dirty trick or two.

He arrives back in the present just in time to learn that the Mighty Avengers are attacking! Too bad he doesn’t just go back in time a few minutes to regain his composure. But anyway, as we saw last issue, the Venom symbiotes that were unleashed on New York City were traced back to Doom! And as I suspected last issue, Doom was framed!

But there’s no time for talking – it’s time for FIGHTING! They fight in not one – not two – but THREE double-truck battle scenes drawn by Mister Battle himself, Mark Bagley. And then before you know it, it’s robot suit versus robot suit as Iron Man and Dr. Doom clench hands and dance until their batteries run out!

But then they go back in time. And how do we know that? Because the colors are all halftones. That means they’re back in time, but just to the 60s or something. Back in the 1300s, where hot witches roll around in strategically-placed blankets, everyone looks painted.

I don’t even know if I like this stuff anymore. But everything else has just gotten so bad, I don’t know where else to turn for spandex fights and robots and explosions.