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Offline Sam Wilson

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sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 2/14/07
« on: February 15, 2007, 06:41:57 pm »
Wktf’s Reviews

No picks of the week this week.  All three of these titles are really pretty good.  On with the reviews!

Blade #6
Marvel Comics
Written by: Marc Guggenheim
Drawn by: Howard Chaykin

Throughout this series this creative team has presented a Blade that’s moved away from the higher tech sword wielding Wesley Snipes version of the character and more (but not completely) back to the original street fighting knife wielder from Marv Wolfman’s and Gene Colan’s 1970s Tomb of Dracula series.  At the same time they’ve brought Blade straight into the Marvel Universe with run-ins with a vampirized Spider-Man, agents of SHIELD and, most recently, Wolverine.  A running creative conceit through this series is the concurrent time shifting between the present and Blade’s past, the latter presented in browns and grays to demonstrate this is the past.  And what’s been hinted at is some clues about Blade’s father.  Most of us who’ve followed the character know his mother was a prostitute who was attacked by the vampire Deacon Frost while she was pregnant, thus making Blade something between human and undead.  But we’ve never really known anything about her or, for that matter, his father.  With this issue all this becomes clearer and, as a great writer like Guggenheim will do, presents some mysteries as well.

Our story begins abruptly with a man named Lucas Cross, a Lex Luthor look-alike kind of guy, observing Blade chained inside a cell and declaring that Blade is his son.  Abducted in his sleep and brought here without his blood provisions, Cross presents him with a young girl, a child, and declares Blade is part of a prophecy that states he must drink the blood of a virgin.  Hence the girl.  Of course, Blade not only wants no part of this but is highly suspicious of the white Lucas’ claim to be Blade’s father.  That plus the fact that Blade’s lived a very long time and Lucas is far too young looking to actually be his father.  All that said, trapped with a titanium chain he can’t break, presented with the girl, and going increasingly hungry for blood, what is Blade to do?  He realizes he has only one option and, shockingly, he takes it.

I am a huge fan of this title.  Guggenheim’s blending the running story of Blade’s past with his present is deftly and suspense fully handled.  Here we see Lucas and Tara, his wife and Blade’s mother, fleeing their Latverian pursuers who seek his capture for being a political dissident.  These two clearly love each other and their parting so she can escape with her unborn baby while Lucas battles singlehandedly against soldiers on horseback is filled with anger and pain.  We also learn that Lucas is dying from cancer.  How he escaped this cancer is linked to one of Blade’s issues with Lucas’ actually being his father.  Anyway, for some great action, a compelling story, and great writing and art you should be picking up this title if you’re not already.

Thunderbolts #111
Marvel Comics
Written by:  Warren Ellis
Drawn by: Mike Deodato, Jr.

If you’ve been reading Civil War then you know Iron Man and SHIELD have assembled a new Thunderbolts team under the directorship of psychopath Norman Osborn.  These Thunderbolts are Venom, Moonstone, Songbird, Radioactive Man, Bullseye, Swordsman, and Penance.  Though the promo art for this title has depicted the Green Goblin on his glider thus far Norman’s been content to sit behind a desk, direct the team, and play mind games with each team member like Bullseye and Moonstone last issue and Songbird (formerly Screaming Mimi) this issue, to insure their cooperation.  And he’s been pretty effective at it, too.  Over the years Osborn’s moved away from the dual personalities where, as Osborn, he’s a harsh businessman with no recollection of his Goblin identity to one where Osborn and the Goblin seem to be one.  But thus far Osborne, while cruel and manipulative, hasn’t been the wildly psych-nutsy character of old.

In addition to the formation of the new team, last issue focused on the superpowered Jack Flag, a former partner of Captain America who’s been hiding out from the pro-Registration people with his wife Lucy.  Unfortunately for Jack, he’s the first target of the newly government sanctioned Thunderbolts.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of Deodato’s sequential art (his covers are killer, though) but this time he really nails this issue.  The highlight of the whole issue is the battle between team Thunderbolts and Jack.  Nearly all the players get a crack at the hero but it’s the intervention of one in particular, and you all can likely guess which one, that spells the most trouble for Jack.  In short, this is a high octane explosive battle issue and neither Ellis nor Deodato disappoint at all in delivering the goods and the pathos in this story.

The highlight of this issue for me didn’t come until the very and, with a simple conversation between Osborn and is assistant/secretary.  I couldn’t help but smile as I saw the signature John Romita, Sr. beads of sweat form on Norman’s brow.  Not all is well with our Thunderbolts director and this should be fun to watch getting played out.  The other highlight was seeing how Moonstone, a bit of a manipulator (think Hannibal Lecter) herself, leads her team on the field.  Her opening comment is a bit shocking, though it jibes with her overly sexy walk onto the battle field, but may be used to elicit an emotional response from her team mates to propel them into battle.  Or maybe it just should be taken at face value.  Don’t know, but it was a hoot.  And the way she moved her team mates around the battle field was impressive even though it was the rogue actions of one that proved more effective.  Even those tiring of Civil War should pick this up and give it a try.  It’s a different kind of superhero comic that, thus far, has been an entertaining read.

Green Arrow # 71
DC Comics
Written by: Judd Winick
Drawn by: Scott McDaniel

Though Green Arrow is one of my favorite DC Comics characters I’ve not followed his title for a long time.  I’m aware that following Infinite Crisis Olive Queen has set himself up as the mayor of Star City but that’s all I really know about what’s going on with Green Arrow these days.  That plus he’s been passed over as a member of the newly formed JLA in favor of Connor Hawk, his former sidekick Speedy and currently, I think, going under the name of Red Arrow.   Frankly, the only two reasons I picked up this tile two issues ago are that Batman was guest starring (and I’m sure DC put the Bat in here to boost sales) and that Scott McDaniel, famous in my eyes for his work on Daredevil, Batman and Nightwing, is the artist.

Bruce Wayne came to Star City for some public appearances to kick off some of the post Infinite Crisis/52 reconstruction he was funding and Ollie, as mayor, made a huge public thank you to Bruce for his help.  Friction always existing between these two high strung characters, Bruce puts on a public smiling face but reserves his more typical scowl for Ollie away from the cameras.  Batman’s visit to Star City, though, is due to his tracking the Red Hood, the (yawn) resurrected Jason Todd, to Ollie’s town.  The Red Hood has allied himself with Brick, a GA villain who bears some resemblance to Blockbuster from Batman’s and Nightwing’s rogue galleries, for purposes as yet unknown.  Unknown, that is other than for the purposes of taking down their mutual enemies.  And in this issue we find heroes and enemies switching their usual dancing partners.  Green Arrow vs. Red Hood and Batman vs. Brick while the new Speedy, young Mia, ducks into an apartment building in response to screams she hears inside.

Few artists layout battle scenes as well as McDaniels.  I know his style may be too cartoony for some but I find it fun and exciting.  Real comic book art as opposed to some of the more photorealistic art we see today.  And the choreography of the Green Arrow/Red Hood battle is particularly sharp, even as the Batman/Brick street brawl is desperate and deliberately messy.  But the real conflict is going on in another part of the city and soon the two heroes realize they’ve been played, that the Red Hood has another, different objective in mind and these two played an unwitting role in helping him achieve it.

I don’t know if I’ll be sticking around after the resolution next issue, but I will definitely be back next issue and maybe even pick this up again as a trade.  Thus far it’s been a fun action packed superhero team up that’s pretty much hitting all the marks you’d want it to for such as story.

Sam Wilson’s Reviews

The reviews are a little less mighty this week, the the dawg’s LCS was attacked by angry frost giants preventing him from getting his weekly books, but Thor loaned him toothgrinder and toothgnasher to plow through the storm, and tomorrow he is going to hand Yimr his ass with the patented dawg double front “I haaf beeg muscles” beat down.  My pick of the week is Nextwave (out of respect for its cancellation, booo, and for my hommie Jess Harold) and that being said, on to the reviews…

Nextwave #12
Marvel Comics
Written by: Warren Ellis
Drawn by: Stuart Immonen

Nextwave is a new Marvel team book by Warren Ellis, which features some b-list characters and brings them an a-lister’s chance at greatness. Is this book set in current Marvel continuity? I don’t think so. Does that matter? Not really. Ellis’s featured players are Monica Rambeau (aka Capt. Marvel aka Photon aka Pulsar, one time leader of the Avengers), Aaron Stack (aka Machine Man), Elsa Bloodstone (umm, aka no one, she had a mini series a few years back and no one cared about it), Tabby Smith (aka Boom-Boom, you know, that gum-chewing chick from X-factor) and Captain %$@!. Yes, $@#$! is really his name, or that’s the name the sensors allow us to see anyway. Anyway, these characters form the superhuman taskforce known as “Nextwave”, and they work for H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort), and elite government task force. H.A.T.E.’s head honcho goes by the name Dirk Anger, he’s like a constipated Nick Fury. Yup, these are the players, and the job? Fighting terror I guess.

So Nextwave has been cancelled and issue 12 has the team going out with a bang.  They take out a Baby MODOK and Devil Dinosaur, who apparently has went a little nutty and eaten Moon Boy.  Yes, I said that all correctly.  So why did this book get cancelled?  I don’t know, people don’t have a sense of humor, there were no major crossover events involved, American audiences can’t deal with British writers, who knows.  Whatever the reason, it is a goddamn shame because Nextwave made me and a few other people smile, laugh out loud even and goddammit if that shouldn’t be enough to keep a book on the stands these days.  Bah.  Fu$# Cap and Iron Man, I’m on Dirk Angers side…

Wolverine: Origins #10
Marvel Comics
Written by: Daniel Way
Drawn by: Steve Dillon
Wicked cool covers by: Joe Quesada

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with “Wolverine: Origins” I’ll give a quick recap. At the end of the “House of M” fiasco Wolverine, who is the best at what he does and what he does ain’t pretty, was granted access to his memories. All of them. Yup. Most of them are nasty and are the types of things no one wants to come to light. SHIELD is alerted and so it begins. Wolverine decides he is going to use his newfound knowledge to exact bloody revenge on all those who have ever wronged him, so he whups Silver Samurai’s ass and takes his Muramasa Blade (a katanna that has a bloodlust and is said to be able to contain evil spirits) and embarks on a quest. First up, he has some words with the Secretary of State, then he visits a guy named Nuke (who we last saw in the now classic Daredevil storyline “Born Again”). It turns out Wolverine more or less helped create Nuke, and after setting that little flub straight he mixes it up with Captain America and a few of the X-men. Wolverine almost goes berserk on all of them, but Emma Frost stops him and drops a huge bombshell on ol’ Logan. He has a son. In a moment of clarity Logan hands over his Muramasa Blade to Cyclops, requesting that if he goes too far in his current revenge bender that Cyclops end it with the sword, the only thing that can permanently put Wolverine down. Anyway, things for Wolverine haven’t slowed down a bit since the onset of this series, so far Wolvie has threatened the secretary of state, whupped Nuke’s ass, threw down with Shield and Omega Red, and has crossed paths with the always foxy Black Widow and endured the death of his former sidekick Jubilee.  None of that compares to the most recent event in Wolvie’s path to rediscovery, reconnecting with his son (who then subsequently disemboweled him).  Yeesh…

Turns out Wovie’s son is quite the psycho, killing is something he enjoys in an all too psychotic manner.  The question is, is this from Wolvie or is this on him?  Wolvie states the child’s mother is Japanese, and other than being an agent of SHIELD we learn little else about him.  Meanwhile, on a farm in America a young unregistered mutant is struggling to get along in life when one of Wolvie’s old foe’s reaches out and makes a connection that could spell bad news for the old canucklehead.  The more things change the more they stay the same I guess.

Daniel Way is obviously building up something big with Wolverine’s son, but from the feeling I get its going to be drawn out far more than just six issues, and for the here and now Wolvie is going to mix it up with an old enemy and get back to what he is best at.  I enjoy this book more than I’ve enjoyed any Wolverine book since, well, for quite some time.  The first arc of Origins is available in tpb form, that and the rest of the series is worth checking out.

Manhunter #28
DC Comics
Written by: Marc Adreyko
Drawn by: Javier Pina and Brad Walker
Cover by: Kevin Nowlan

Throughout the DCU’s history several people have taken up the guise of the Manhunter, but I’ll spare you guys from the history lesson and jump straight into the life of the current Manhunter Kate Spencer. Kate was a Los Angeles ADA who was sick of criminals getting off to soft so she stole some super villain stuff from evidence control and became a Manhunter, dealing out justice as she saw fit. Eventually she left the DA’s office and got a job with the DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations) working with her old college buddy Chase Lawler and the mysterious Mr. Bones. This current Manhunter series was almost cancelled, and it has been many months since we last saw Kate and crew (she just recently popped up as Kate Spencer in issue #100 of “Birds of Prey”). Presently Kate works with Bones as a lawyer representing Superhuman criminals, why? To get on the inside of course, but issue #24 gets real interesting when the superhuman criminal she is asked to represent is Wonder Woman (who got in a little trouble for snapping Max Lord’s neck, you know that thing that led to the whole “Infinite Crisis” debacle, check out last year in the DCU if you need clarification).

So far the new storyline has been pretty straightforward, Wonder Woman wants Kate to be her lawyer because the feds are going to prosecute her for the Murder of Max Lord (event though the world court exonerated her). As payment, Kate asks Wonder Woman to train her. Can you say, WORD? Meanwhile, an old nemesis kidnaps Chase Lawler’s sister, and some strangeness is happening in Tibet with Mark Shaw, the 2nd Manhunter.  Last issue Wonder Woman was jumping through the hoops of the legal system, Chase was in Gotham dealing with her drama and more weirdness in Tibet (sigh). Oh yeah, and Blue Beetle.  Having him suddenly showing up has thrown Dianna’s trial upside down, now Max Lord won’t seem as so unsympathetic if the guy he killed in cold blood is still alive.  It’s aiight though because Batman shows up (in issue 28) to run some tests and see if Blue Beetles is back or, well, something else anyway.  Chase gets into more trouble in Gotham, we get to hear Kate’s thoughts on Batman and Azrael (you know, that night guy who took over for Batman during “Knightfall way back when) is back (boo).  I love this book (sigh)…

Manhunter is a cool book that is well written and never really got the love it deserved. Yes, this current arc is the last arc of a book already on life support but it seems like it is going to be a doozy (and Kate is a regular now in “Birds of Prey”, so she’ll be sticking around the DCU for awhile). Manhunter is a comic definitely worth checking out.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 2/14/07
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2007, 06:42:29 pm »
Wktf’s Trade Review

Marvel Visionaries: John Buscema HC
Marvel Comics
Written by: Mostly Stan Lee and Roy Thomas (but also Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Roger Stern and Chris Claremont)
Drawn by: Big John Buscema

Well, all right!!!  This is the one I’ve been waiting for!  When Marvel started releasing these oversized hardcover “Visionaries” books they started with Jack Kirby, moved to Stan Lee, then hit Steve Ditko and John Romita, Sr.  Clearly they were profiling the very pillars of Marvel’s earliest years.  Then something happened.  Chris Claremont got a book and so did John Romita, Jr.  Now, no question these two are giants among Marvel’s creative history but why skip over the other giants of Marvel’s silver age?  Names like Gene Colan, Jim Steranko, Gil Kane and most especially John Buscema?  Then Marvel gave us their Jack Kirby vol. 2 and Roy Thomas HC Visionaries books, so I held out hope. 

Back in January Marvel finally delivered their John Buscema book and, damn, they delivered it in style.  Herein lie some of the most spectacularly rendered stories of Marvel’s beginning years up through the more modern times.  Buscema died of cancer in 2002 but, as Roy Thomas states in his Introduction, “He left behind a legacy of a half century of stories drawn for Marvel, and the legend that he was not only a storyteller par excellence but also one of the greatest draftsmen the comic book field had produced.”  This book proves just how right Roy is.  Perhaps, even more so than George Perez, Buscema is the artist most closely associated with The Avengers and this volume contains no less than six Avengers’ issues.  There’s also plenty of Thor, Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, Hulk, SHIELD, even some Wolverine, and very early mystery and horror work from the 1950s.  Highlights of this book are almost too many to mention (the whole book is one big highlight) but my favorites include the following.

Silver Surfer #4.  Man, it just doesn’t get better than this for sheer grandeur.  Loki, ever out to destroy Thor, convinces the Surfer that Thor means to kill Odin and dispatches him with the promise to free him from Galactus’ barrier if he defeats the Thunder God.  Every panel, from the Surfer’s reclining peacefully with Earth’s jungle beasts, to Loki’s battle with him over New York, to the golden spires of Asgard, to the sweeping battle between the Surfer and Thor in Asgard, is drawn with incredible power and dynamism.  And that cover!  As Mrs. McCoy’s bouncing baby Beast would say, “Oh, my stars and garters!”  Perhaps the most dynamic and incredible cover image in all of comics!  And in Marvel’s liberal use of it in this volume they prove sometimes there really is no such thing as too much of a good thing.  The image of Thor from this cover appears on this HC’s front cover, The Silver Surfer image appears on the back, the entire drawing is the splash page for the Visionaries book itself and, of course, it appears once again to lead of The Silver Surfer #4 reprint.  If only someone, like Clay Moore perhaps, could make a diorama sculpture from that cover and bring it to 3D life! ?

Fantastic Four #111 and 112.  In his attempt to cure The Thing, Reed’s treatment has unhinged Ben’s mind and driven him into a rage.  Ben goes on a rampage through the streets of New York and neither the police nor The Human Torch can stop him.  Desperate for help, Reed reaches out to Bruce Banner and, well, you can only imagine what happens at the end of the first part and becomes the story in the second part.  The city wide brawl between the crazed Thing and the Incredible Hulk is as savage as they come.  Buscema draws this frenzy with incredible, fierce kinetic energy and desperate force.  This two-parter may well be the highlight of the entire volume, in fact.

Avengers #41 & 42, and 277.  The first two issues represent Buscema’s premier effort on the Avengers where Goliath must go head-to-head in a bludgeoning battle against Dragon Man while Hawkeye and Hercules mix it up at Avengers HQ.  But it’s Hercules who, ultimately, must take the fight to Dragon Man to save The Wasp, and what a battle it is!  Issue #277 is the final chapter of the incredible Avengers Under Siege story by Roger Stern.  The Masters of Evil, led by Zemo, have taken over Avengers Mansion and beaten Hercules into a coma.  Captain America, The Black Knight, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), The Wasp and Thor storm the Mansion to wrest back control.  Thor goes head-to-head with Goliath (now Atlas), Captain Marvel battles Moonstone, and Cap must first battle The Wrecker and then Zemo himself.  This is one of the most gut-wrenching and powerful stories in The Avengers’ history largely due to Buscema’s work which, as always, shows the power and desperation of each tense moment.  Anyone who doesn’t own the trade compilation of this legendary Avengers tale should pick it up immediately, by the way.

Obviously, there are other great stories as well.  In Thor #200, Stan Lee takes over Gerry Conway’s regular writing chores to craft the future story of Ragnarok, including Loki’s betrayal and Thor’s heroism.  From the black and white Dracula Lives! we are given the tale not of how Dracula became a vampire (that one was drawn by Neal Adams) but of how he won the title of Lord of Vampires.  There’s a fun story from 1970 of one of The Warriors Three’s adventures in New York and offbeat tales of both The Silver Surfer from Epic Illustrated #1 and The Hulk from Shadows & Light #3.  There are three Hulk issues from the early Tales to Astonish, as well.

To sum up, this amazing and highly recommended volume collects Crimefighters #4, Strange Tales #22 and #150, Tales to Astonish #85-7, Avengers #41-42, #75-76, #277 and Annual #2, Silver Surfer #4, Fantastic Four #111-112, Thor #200, Dracula Lives! #3, Marvel Spotlight #30, Epic Illustrated #1, Wolverine #10 and Marvel Shadows & Light #3.  Having recently been released it should be readily available, retailing for $34.99.  It does a wonderful job at showcasing the enormous talent that was John Buscema.  The only John Buscema stories it’s missing that would make it a truly complete tribute book are any of the big man’s Conan works, but you can find those in Dark Horse’s The Chronicles of Conan trades as Marvel no longer holds the Conan license, and the incredible city-wide knock-down drag-out fight between The Sub-Mariner and The Thing from Sub-Mariner #8, but you can find that one in the Marvel Visionaries: Roy Thomas HC.

Offline masigl4179

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 2/14/07
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2007, 09:55:30 am »
10 picks for the week of February 14, 2007
10. Nextwave#12- Well, Nextwave ends where it began for me at the bottom of my stack. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because overall the series really grew on me, and now that's it's canceled it will always have a special fondness in my art. All, I can say is that I guess the world wasn't ready for Warren Ellis brand of superhero satire.
9. StormWatch: Post Human Division#4- I still like this title but I thought this issue wasn't as strong as the other issues, but I've remain committed to sticking with this title, because I think it is one of the best titles out of the Wildstorm universe, and one of the best new titles to hit the stands lately.
8. The Sadhu#5- Usually, whenever this title comes out it is pretty good, but the only problem is that is seems to come out sporadically so sometimes I have a hard time remembering what's what. However, I always really enjoy the philosophical mumbo-jumbo that this comic contains.
7. Ghost Rider#8- So, the Ghost Rider movie comes out this weekend and a new issue of Ghost Rider hits the stands this week. Overall, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Illinois seems like a good premise, and the opening chapter seems interesting. I just hope I'm not left hanging like I was with the last two parter about the death of Johnny Blaze, cuz I didn't quite get it.
6. Justice Society of America#3- At one time, the old JSA title was one of the most consistently well written team books on the market place, and then Infinite Crisis and One Year Later happened, so the title got rebooted. I know what Geoff Johns is doing. He's laying the framework for the next generation of stories, however, I'm not all that interested in the next generation of  Justice Society members right now, and I'm waiting on the team to finally come together and jump into action.
5. Thunderbolts#111- Oh, this is going to end badly, because Warren Ellis has created a team of the most dangerous super-powered individuals that I have ever seen and when the sh*t hits the fan with the All-new, more dangerous it ain't gonna be pretty. They really put a number on poor Jack Flagg, and I can't wait to see who they are going to f*ck up next.
4.Green Arrow#71- I have to admit that I was pleasantly impressed by well written this issue was. Seriously, Judd Winick really had a good take on Batman, but his writing really shines throughout the Green Arrow vs. Red Hood fight. I was kind of surprised that there was going to be one more part to this story, but once you understand what the Red Hood is really after it make sense.Also, what's up with Slade and Drakkon escaping from prison? Uh-oh, things are really starting to look bad for Oliver Queen.
3. Green Lantern Corps#9- What can I say other than I love this SH*T! Seriously, The Dark Side of the Green is one of the best and most original Green Lantern stories I've ever read. If you are a GL fan you need to do yourself a favor and read this story. My only complaint was that I was completely satisfied with the ending. Don't get me wrong, the story ended in the best possible way, but I feel like I was left hanging for more, and I hoping that this isn't the last time we see the Corpse or that Guy Gardner gets another chance to work with her, er I mean them.
2.52 Week 41-Wow, only 11 more issues to go, we hitting the home stretch here, and there is a lot going on, especially with Renee Montoya, who I feel is destined to become the next Question, especially since Vic Sage appears to have passed even though she did make it Nanda Parat. There's a lot to love with issue, as the majority of the storylines are all progressed a little bit. My only hope is that every one (i.e.Steel, Ralph Dibney, Renee Montoya, Booster Gold, Black Adam, Animal Man, Starfire, Adam Strange, etc.) get to come together somewhere in the end.
1. Astonishing X-men#20- Well, I'll be d@mned, but I was astonished by this fabulous issue of the X-men. There was so much going on, but Joss Whedon had his finger on perfectly on the pulse of every moment in this book. If he can maintain the schedule, this will probably be his finest X-men story to date. I liked this issue so much I started to feel bad that this was his last storyline on the book, hell, I would hate to be the writer to follow in his shoes on this title. Who knows it might even be better to just cancel the title rather than let someone else come on and mess it up.

Offline Wise Son

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 2/14/07
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2007, 06:09:08 am »
Ghost Rider #94 -
Yeah, you read right. As Tom Breevort explains in his introduction, when the 90's incarnation of GR came to an end, it was while Marvel was bankrupt, and any comic not expected to turn a profit was not released. Breevort had just redirected the book, keeping writer Ivan Velez (Milestone's Blood Syndicate, My Name is Holocaust and Static, and DCs Extreme Justice, and the only reason I started collecting the book), but dumping many of the recent changes (GRs neon costume and bike, and the faux-manga art-style). There was a plan to lead up to a huge event in #100, but they were told to stop at #94, and the last issue to actually see print was #93. I never knew! I spent all these years wondering where I could get a copy! And now I have it, and oh yeah, that's good.

John Blaze's long-lost brother Danny Ketch is the Rider's host, but at the end of the story he is separated from him, as the Rider has been killed by a troop of other Spirits of Vengeance, and his human soul, Noble Kale, sent to Hell. In Hell he is to be married to 2 of the female Spirits, while Blackheart plots his complete destruction. Danny is trying to literally tunnel into Hell, guided by the spirit of his mother, to give the Rider a bit of knowledge he is missing - he is not just a Spirit of vengeance, he is the Angel of Death, part of a deal between Mephisto and the angel Uriel, and this is why Blackheart wants him destroyed, as the Rider is powerful enough to destroy him.

What follows is several terrific fights, one to the death, and, as the cover shows, the Ghost Rider becoming King of Hell. There are some great character moments, and the Rider engineers a very satisfying ending, having spent the previous years realising just how much of a puppet he has been made into. The final page, with the Rider doing his demonic laugh as he rides across the skies of NY, but out of joy, rather than demonic glee, is genuinely touching for anyone who followed Velez's interpretation of the character.

Also worth noting, the story is followed by a complete history of the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider, from the first issue until his appearances after the series ended. WHat's interesting is that it points out that the story is left ultimately open-ended, meaning the Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch Riders could potentially come face-to-face at some point. Hmmmm....

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