Author Topic: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 7/11/07  (Read 2407 times)

Offline Sam Wilson

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Sam Wilson’s Reviews

Read Denys Cowan’s Batman Confidential, my pick of the week.  Yup, that is my only pearl of wisdom.  Denys is a cool guy whose Question series way back in the day inspired this reviewer to take up martial arts at a young age and walk the path.  Met the brother last year in SDCC, totally righteous and humble, one of the most unappreciated talents in the comic industry today.  So check it out, and let’s get on to the reviews…

Green Arrow: Year One #1 (of 4)
DC Comics
Written by:  Andy Diggle
Drawn by: Jock

Andy Diggle and Jock, if you have been reading my reviews for the past few years you know that they were the creative team on one of my all time favorite series ever, “The Losers”, put out by Vertigo comics several years back.  The closes thing to an action movie on paper, “The Losers” was a hell of a book, and learning the duo was going to unite on a mainstream super-hero book, I had to check it out.  Even if it was a character I had no affinity for: Green Arrow.  Green Arrow is essentially the Robin Hood version of Batman.  Oliver Queen, a really rich dude, was shipwrecked on a deserted island and taught himself to the peak of human abilities how to be the perfect archer/hunter/tracker etc.  He came back to the world and became a hero, getting himself a sidekick named Speedy (now known as Red Arrow), fighting alongside Green Lantern and generally being the looser and more “fun” version of Batman.  At one point they took away his fortune and made him more of a “socialist avenger”, sticking it to the man (as noticed in his beef with Hawkman during “Identity Crisis”) but for the most part he was who he was.  Given the recent cancellation of his regular series and proposed engagement to Black Canary (she hasn’t accepted yet) DC has decided to “post-crisis” his origin once again, and I gotta say Diggle and Jock are off to a pretty good start…

Our story with Oliver Queen, bored and rich he treks the globe looking for adventure weather it is base-jumping or climbing mountains, it doesn’t matter because his keepers hired a man named Hackett to look over him.  Other than being gruff and British, Hackett was a former British Marine with combat experience, the perfect type of guy to babysit a drunken adventuring rich kid.  As the story moves on Ollie makes an ass of himself at a charity auction but nets himself the original bow used by bowmaster Howard Hill, the guy who trained Erroly Flynn to be Robin Hood in the movies.  Meanwhile Hackett set’s up a shady real estate deal that is sure to make Ollie a nice profit, but is totally illegal.  Ollie is fine with the deal, but insists he comes along which isn’t so great because Hackett wasn’t making a deal as much as he was just ripping Ollie off, which gets Ollie dumped over the side of a boat and left for dead.

So the origin is there, just tweaked so it is actually FAIRLY BAD ASS.  Yup.  British Special Ops guys, exotic locales.  Diggle and Jock, bring some British zing to possible one of the dorkiest superheroes ever.  This series is off to a great start, and I would highly recommend it. 

Punisher War Journal #9
Marvel Comics
Written by: Matt Fraction
Drawn by: Ariel Olivetti

Back in the late ‘80’s/early ‘90’s you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting the Punisher. A character who was once a “C” lister back in the day was given a little bit of a boost Frank Miller in the early ‘80’s, and then a HUGE boost by the Mike Zeck/Jo Duffy limited series which led into the Whilce Portacio/Mike Barr series. At one point there was that series and a second series entitled “Punisher War Journal” written by Carl Potts and penciled by some forgotten guy by the name of Jim Lee and let me tell you, that book was AWESOME. Wow, Punny going up against drug dealers and doing his thing, all the while casually interacting with those members of the Marvel U he would most likely encounter, DD, Wolverine and the Black Widow to name a few. When Garth Ennis kick started the Punisher for the new millennium he wanted to move him away from the super hero stuff and make him more of a Mack Bolan type of hero (ha, anyone remember those books?). This worked out really well in the MAX world, but the powers that be decided they wanted to bring the Punisher back into the regular Marvel U thus we have a new “Punisher War Journal”, and let me tell you, it’s not so bad.

With the Civil War behind him, Frank is back doing what he does best, whacking supervillians with stolen SHIELD tech, with GW Bridge hot on his tail. Last we saw Frank he was after the Hate-Monger, who has gone all neo-nazi on the Mexican border and is starting a race-war wearing hate-garb that comes off as a faux nazi-Captain America. Needless to say this redlines Frank and he decides he is going to do something about it. Frank goes undercover as a neo-nazi to get close to the monger, but before he can do that he has to whup an ox’s ass (seriously), it is all for nothing though because apparently the mong see’s through Frank’s disguise and puts him before a master-race firing squad, until Frank get’s his ass pulled out of the fire by, “the man?”  All this and more exposition, a “rage machine” and GW Bridge.  Hell yeah…

I gotta say, its great to see War Journal back and kicking a$#, and Matt Fraction is doing a great job tying Frank into the Civil War, and Ariel Olivetti is one of the best new artists to come around in awhile, his Punisher and Captain America are great and he has a style that is truly his own. This book is all I had hoped it to be and give it my highest recommendation.

Batman: Confidential #7
DC Comics
Written by: Michael Green
Drawn by: Denys Cowan

“Batman: Confidential” is pretty much “Legends of the Dark Knight” with a shorter name.  Bringing us stories from a younger, less convoluted Batman the first arc of this new series brought us Bruce’s first meeting with Lex Luthor, and this next arc brings us a story of Batman vs. The Joker, before the Joker was the Joker.  Before we get into that, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about Denys Cowan, the artist on this new arc.  Denys is an old school great in the comic industry, nominated for an Eisner award on his work in the groundbreaking “Question” series he did back in the day with Dennis O’Niel.  He’s no stranger to the Batman, having done stints on both Batman and Detective comics, he was also one of the founding fathers of Milestone Comics and most recently penciled the Vertigo Series “Fight For Tomorrow”.  Heavily influenced by the martial arts (Denys is a practioner of many style) his kinetic style brought a sense of bone-crunching movement to every scene he put on paper, and its nice to see him back on a monthly, only if for a little while.

Our new story opens up with a young Batman, still perfecting his trade, making his way through the underworld of Gotham city.  He comes across the perfect robbery, but nothing was stolen.  Everyone on scene was murdered with almost superhuman markmanship, the alarm was disabled, but nothing was stolen.  Cut to a bored criminal who just doesn’t get any joy from “it” anymore.  He has perfected his trade to the point where it isn’t fun, so he just starts killing to keep himself amused.  A wise bar maid gives him some advice, and a glimpse of the Bat seems to give him a purpose, and so it goes…

Even though this issue is primarily exposition, it flows very well.  A lot of people are going to be upset by yet another retelling of the Joker’s origins, but so what, thus far I’m liking it, and Denys art is the same as it ever was.  Old school hard-nosed ‘80’s Batman, back again.  Check this book out, it is my pick of the week.

Dawg’s Reviews

This week was a double dash of comics for me. I was trekking about the country last week on my motorcycle and couldn’t join the fellas, so I had a nice pile waiting for me in the pull. As far as this week’s batch, there was a lot of great stuff happening as well. What great stuff oh mighty Dawg?  Well read on read warrior and ye shall know…

Justice Society of America #7
DC Comics
Written by: Geoff Johns
Drawn by: Dale Eaglesham

I almost missed the boat on this series when it first came out. I was challenged by a Mighty Review faithful reader to pick it up. The next week I grabbed up issues 1 and 2 and have decided that this is a really good book. Granted it is somewhat residing in the shadows of its higher profile brother Justice League, but nonetheless, I am enjoying the hell out of it each month. Now that the lightning saga is over there are some loose ends to tie up that were planted in earlier issues. 

The biggest of these is loose end is former high school football star and grandson of the former hero Commander Steel, Nathan Heywood. Nate had a really bad infection and was mis-diagnosed which resulted in him losing his leg. This ended his football career and had driven him into a deep depression.  At a family reunion his entire family was attacked and most of them slaughtered by the Fourth Reich. The JSA showed up and the battle was joined and even the crippled Nate acted heroically to stop them.

We begin this issue with Nate waking from his coma and Doctor Mid-Nite explaining to him what has happened. In the fight against the Fourth Reich, Nate stabbed one of them in the only place he was vulnerable… the throat. In process of this however he was changed into a being made of steel. His leg has grown back and he has become indestructible, powerful, strong, but as a side effect he finds himself unable to feel anything. He cannot feel the wind on his face, the skin of anyone he touches, including his surviving family members.

The JSA decide to help him and forge him a suit that will limit his power enough to help him start learning to control his strength. It just so happens that this suit looks like his grandfathers Commander Steel costume and Nate is hesitant. A pep talk from Power Girl and an emergency put his concerns on hold however as the JSA go to work.

Nate performs very well in the battle and the media recognizes him instantly as the new Commander Steel. Nate flat out says no however and reminds the media that he isn’t even in the military. With the foxy leader of the JSA again nearby, Nate is officially dubbed Citizen Steel and a new hero is born.

I loved this issue. There was nothing galaxy spanning, or earth shattering in it like my other two reviews today, but this was just a solid origin issue that was well done and well illustrated.  I don’t know how the sales of this book are doing, but I will say that it has been solid every month and definitely worth checking out. Pick it up and see for yourself.

New Excalibur #21
Marvel Comics
Written by: Chris Claremont
Drawn by: Jeremy Haun

Excalibur has some trouble on its hands this week. Albion has assembled his own corps of Captains and is hell bent on the destruction of anything that is dear to Captain Britain.  Why not start with Britain itself and remake the world in his own image.

At the beginning of the issue we see that all electronics and communications devices have been disabled, thereby crippling everything that relies on these tools to function. Most notably, airplanes are nose-diving toward the Thames River. One in particular luckily is caught and saved by Cap. We see the other members of Excalibur as well as members of the Dark X-Men saving people from the swath of Albion’s destructive March.

Albion’s second in command, Lionheart is charged with marching onward to capture and hold hostage, the royalty of the country as Albion has a separate path.

Meanwhile Sage has infiltrated Albion’s number, but truth be told, we’re not sure after last issue of she is truly playing along or something else has happened to her. Lionheart doesn’t trust her but Albion does. Either way Sage’s part isn’t done.

The Dark X-Men have also decided temporarily to play nice so long as it serves their purposes and Peter Wisdom is fine with that so long as it means that his country wins out over the evil plaguing it. Dazzler is extremely unhappy with the decision to partner with these alternate dimension X-Men however as Jean killed her in a previous story.

The team sets about going after Albion and doing what they were reformed to do and to me it feels good to see it. I have always like Brian Braddock and Captain Britain but in previous years, I don’t feel as if he has been written that well. Even my favorite of all time Alan Davis wrote him to be a sometimes-bumbling buffoon to Nightcrawler’s brains and even temper. He hasn’t has a chance to shine in years and honestly I believe that this series is giving him that mature shot. Claremont is writing him well and is writing the other characters well in this book.

The one thing that was missing in Excalibur’s first book was a great villain. Let’s face it… What makes a great comic book is villains that you love to hate and that challenge our heroes to the point of no return. What did Excalibur have before… the Warwolves? Technet? Amusing villains, but by no means reason to feel the heroes might lose a few battles.

This Excalibur has villains.  The Shadow King, the dark X-Men, Albion, Black Tom… There is that need for heroes that comes on the back end of great villains.

I am staying with this book until it gives me a reason not to. It’s another one of the solid reads each month… that actually comes out each month.

Green Lantern #21
DC Comics
Written by: Geoff Johns
Drawn by: Ivan Reis

If I only had one word to describe this issue, it would be DAYAMN!!!

Since I don’t know what it means to be brief, I will instead write about why I thought that this issue was off the chain in terms of coolness.

Unless we have all been living under a mushroom for the past month, we should all know about what Sinestro has going on. He’s assembled his own corps and recruited some major bad guy players to don the impure yellow power rings. Baddies that include Arkillo, Karu-Sil, and the Cyborg-Superman! The Sinestro Corps also includes one other that is big, big trouble for Hal Jordan and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps. Kyle Rainer was taken and corrupted by the yellow ring, which he was holding on to in the Sinestro Corps special.  He has been possessed by Parallax and seems far more powerful that Hal was when he was Parallax.

Hal has fought his way back from his darkness and he has been reborn as a hero again. He is back on the side of the angels, a card carrying member of the JLA, as well as helped to rebuild the Green Lantern Corps. There are still many out there who do not trust him and indeed Hal wonders at times if he trusts himself to be the hero he once was. He was once called the greatest Green Lantern there was, but he doesn’t feel like he deserves this anymore considering the damage that he has done from the time he was corrupted.

There was someone else who once had the title of the greatest Green Lantern, and he currently has assembled his own army and is laying waste to the Green Lanterns… Sinestro.

There is such a sense of urgency in this book. A green versus yellow light show war. Hal’s desperation, Kyle’s corruption and betrayal as Parallax, and Sinestro’s hatred for Hal and the guardians for betraying him long ago.

The art on this book is beyond hot and I do not care that it styles itself after Davis, or Hitch a little bit. Out of the DC books that I read… the art on this book is second to none and that includes Ed Benes slick JLA.

This Sinestro Corps story is starting off so very well, and when Hal has something greater than himself to overcome, that is where you find the best Green Lantern stories that there are. Easily my favorite read of this week and therefore, my pick of the week.
Get in on this story while you can. What began a couple weeks ago in the Sinestro Corps special continues here and gets even more wicked.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 7/11/07
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2007, 05:29:49 am »
Wktf’s Reviews

There are a lot of good books to choose from this week, including Batman Confidential.  It’s a meeting of firsts, including the primary criminal and the pre-med school “wise bar maid” as well as said criminal, before he became who he became, and The Batman.  The first arc of this title left me cold but this one’s the real deal. 

Let’s start this review with a second Mighty Reviewer’s look at Part 2 following up one of the single best books, along with Fallen Son #5, to hit the stands this year.  I’m talking about the follow up to Green Lantern: Sinestro Corp Special #1.

Green Lantern #21
DC Comics
Written by: Geoff Johns
Drawn by: Ivan Reis

If you haven’t picked up or read the Sinestro Corp Special then do so right away.  That one comic packs enough story for three books and has a final page that leaves you with that “now way!” kind of feeling.  I mean, what could be worse than the threat the DC Universe faced in Crisis on Infinite Earths or, for that matter, the threat from the recent Infinite Crisis?  What could be worse than either one of those?  Ha!  When you see who Sinestro and, sadly, the new Parallax bow down to you’ll see what I mean.  Though the title’s Sinestro Corp it’s not Sinestro that’s the ultimate threat, or so it seems.

This issue of Green Lantern is titled “The Sinestro Corps War Part 2,” assuming part one is the title mentioned above, but also “Sinestro Corp Chapter One: Fear & Loathing” on the splash page.  A little confusing but not a big deal.  In the first three pages Johns and Reis recount Hal Jordan’s history from his early Green Lantern days to the present to catch the uninitiated reader up to where we are and then quickly picks up from the Lanterns crushing defeat, fifty nine dead and counting, by the Sinestro Corp.  Kyle Rayner is gone, kidnapped, and the Lanterns need a leader but no one trusts Jordan due to his Parallax killing days.  The Guardians sense impending doom and know fear from it.  And fear, and the ability to inspire fear, is what drives the Sinestro Corps’ power.  And what does Hal Jordan fear?  Really fear?  And can Parallax and the Sinestro Corp tap into that?

I was stoked for the return of Hal Jordan and loved the Green Lantern: Rebirth story.  I stuck with the new Green Lantern book through the first arc but it just didn’t really work for me and so I stopped.  The strength of the Sinestro Corp Special has brought me back and this issue has kept me here for now.  Great issue, told with intense storytelling and, for the most part, great art.  I’ve not been a big Reis fan before this issue.  I didn’t much like his Superman work but he’s kicked it into high gear here, even though his Rayner/Parallax is no where near as menacing looking as Van Sciver’s.  I don’t know how they’ll keep this one out of the ongoing Countdown mayhem and maybe they won’t.  Regardless, right now DC’s got a hell of a story going in Green Lantern.  And the villains waiting in the wings (again, see Sinestro Corp Special #1) are just as scary as Hal’s most immediate problem, maybe even moreso.

New Avengers #32
Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by: Leinil Yu

Did everybody catch that Elektra turned into a Skrull after Echo killed her last issue?  Just checking.  The New Avengers are flying home in Danny Rand’s private plane and Peter Parker is truly uncomfortable with all the silence in the cabin.  The New Avengers have realized that if Elektra was a Skrull, and could get past even Wolverine’s heightened senses (remember her role in Enemy of the State?), then not only could any of them be a Skrull but so could anyone else, too.  The Skrulls have hated Earth for decades and, as Clint Barton points out, want to exterminate life on Earth as a point of pride for being thwarted by us so many times in the past.  Can it be that the Skrulls are the link tying Avengers Disassembled, The Secret War, The Raft, House of M, and the Civil War together?  Can it be they have a coordinated attack and invasion plan?  Could it be that New Avengers is the incubating title for the next big Marvel event after World War Hulk?

I can already hear it, though, that not only will people be complaining about Yu’s very rough art but also about the fact that practically the first half of this issue is just talking heads a la Bendis-style scripting.  But, to me, this comic reads like a well written spy novel during those really tense periods between the action, when the hero knows he’s in serious trouble but doesn’t know the origin of the problem and, so, can’t confront it.  That said, while the hero reflects and considers, the danger’s still there all around him.

Unfortunately, while the New Avengers are all discussing this problem and trying to figure out whom among them might be the enemy, The Mighty Avengers (as we know from their book) are battling the She-Ultron who’s set off an attack that’s cut off all types of power in and around New York.  Including the power to the Rand Corporation jet The New Avengers are flying.  And while it’s not perfectly clear it looks like, during this crisis, the threat they all feared was among them actually does surface.  And the teaser for next issue is a killer.  I can’t tell which is the bigger Marvel Universe-wide event.  This story or World War Hulk.  Seriously.  I’m loving the direction both creators are taking this book, it has a gritty underground feel to it while still being a superhero comic, and give this issue my pick of the week.

Blade #11
Marvel Comics
Written by: Marc Guggenheim
Drawn by: Howard Chaykin

Why bother, right?  I mean, this book’s being cancelled after the very next issue.  So why bother writing up a review?  I’ll tell you why.  Because this is a damn great comic book and everyone should be buying it.  That’s why.

With this issue we learn why Blades’ supposed father, Lucas Cross, the man responsible for Blade’s chewing off his own left hand (you read that right) has been so desperately trying to get Blade to go along with a certain prophecy to return Dracula’s remains to the “salted earth” of Transylvania.  It has to do with something vampires want more than anything and, yet, in so retaining removes their vulnerabilities that aid in hunting them.  And Blade’s not too cool on anything, prophecy or no, that eliminates vampires’ vulnerabilities.  Blade’s partner, the vampire Hannibal King, known to those of us who used to read Tomb of Dracula back in the 1970s, has been Blade’s uneasy partner up until this point.  But he’s a vampire, too, and Blade now stands between him and what he, like all vampires, desires.

Blade versus Lucas Cross and his minions, and Blade versus Hannibal King, make this a brutal issue for me.  I don’t much care about Cross, except as a plot device, but Hannibal King was a core character and one of the good guys, though undead, from Tomb of Dracula.  I’m sorry to see this battle between him and Blade happen, though the fact that it does is pretty shocking to long-time Blade and Tomb of Dracula fans.  Dracula, himself, is a strong presence in this story though he doesn’t even appear except in a flashback.  I have some expectation he’ll appear again next month even though Blade “killed” him in his first issue.

Anyway, this story arc wraps up next month and if you haven’t been reading along then I strongly urge you to pick up the trade when it’s issued.  You can still get the trade of the first six issues, too, by the way.  Guggenheim and Chaykin have done a great job at integrating Blade in to the Marvel Universe, putting him in contact with Spider-Man, Wolverine, Union Jack and even Maria Hill from SHEILD.  Even so, they’ve also stayed true to his roots as a street level vampire slayer with a serious chip on his shoulder.  I’ll miss this title after it’s gone.

Wktf’s Trade Reviews

Marvel Masterworks: Captain Marvel Volume 1
Marvel Comics
Written by: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas & Arnold Drake
Drawn by: Gene Colan & Don Heck

Last year’s Marvel Civil War was notable for a number of big events and changes: the scores of deaths in Stamford, the Registration Act that still divides factions of heroes though the War has ended, Tony Stark’s assuming the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Bill Foster’s death at the hands of a renegade Thor clone and, of course, most notably, the death of Captain America.  But one other event that got some trade press at the time, but today seems like a forgotten afterthought, occurred in a Civil War one-shot title called “The Return,” namely, the return of Captain Marvel.  When I reviewed this issue I also reposted my review of the Marvel original Graphic Novel “The Death of Captain Marvel” which, along with The Flash’s death in DC’s first Crisis, was one of the most powerful and significant hero’s death in all of comics.  The power of this Jim Starlin work made me ambivalent about Mar-Vel’s return though, I admit, the way Marvel handled it actually was pretty interesting and didn’t cheapen his death as I thought it would.

With the promise of a new Captain Marvel comic coming out of Civil War (and, Marvel, when will that happen?), I wanted to look back at where it all began for one of my favorite Marvel characters.  And this Masterworks gives the reader this beginning in two different ways.  One, of course, is the comic book story of how Mar-Vel came to Earth and became a hero.  The other is found in Roy Thomas’ introduction to this volume where we learn what caused Stan Lee’s prolific imagination to create this original character.  It turns out, actually, that Stan was against the idea in the first place but was forced to create a “Captain Marvel” character at the insistence of his publisher Martin Goodman who, in 1966, wanted to protect his investment in his newly named Marvel (formerly Timely) Comics now that Faucett’s (eventually to be DC’s) Captain Marvel had been dormant a decade but another character from a far smaller competitor had surfaced under this moniker.  Considering that Stan really was not all that enthused about doing this character the stage he set was pretty imaginative.  This was Stan, after all.

Going a few months back at that time in 1967 the Kree’s great weapon, a huge robot called The Sentry, lay defeated and dormant from a story in FF #64-65.  The Kree, incensed that a backward planet like ours could stand up to their superior war technology, dispatched a party led by the malevolent Colonel Yon-Rogg to study our hapless people to help the Kree decide if we should live or die.  The handsome, silver haired Captain Mar-Vel is the jealous Yon-Rogg’s subordinate but is a far more famous warrior who also holds the heart of Medic Una, a beautiful Kree woman after whom Yon-Rogg lusts.  For these two reasons Yon-Rogg has determined to kill our Captain on this mission and sabotages him at every chance he gets.  While on Earth, Mar-Vel’s strength and agility is increased to three times his normal Kree powers and his battle suit, the way-cool helmeted white and green original one with the big Saturn design on its chest, gives him the power of flight as well as a built-in weapon called the Uni-Bean.  Mar-Vel disguises himself as the recently killed Dr. Walter Lawson, an expert on missile guidance systems, so he can better move among the humans and the military and observe them as part of his mission.  Despite the fact he may well be the cause of Earth’s eventual destruction, Mar-Vel can’t help but come to our defense in times of danger and, like The Silver Surfer, find shreds of kindness and nobility in our people that begin to create an emotional attachment for Mar-Vel to Earth.  Mar-Vel battles the Kree Sentry, The Super Skrull, the evil alien Aakon race, and even The Sub-Mariner in this tome.  Here we also first encounter the lovely Carol Danvers, head of security at the base where Lawson/Mar-Vel works, who like Lois Lane falls in love with the hero but despises his human alter ego.  Of course, their relationship plays right into Yon-Rogg’s hands and causes trouble for Mar-Vel with Medic Una.

This Masterworks volume, retail priced at $49.99, contains Mar-Vel’s premiere appearance in Marvel Superheroes #12-13 and Captain Marvel #1-9.  It doesn’t take us through to Una’s tragic fate, Mar-Vel’s showdown with Yon-Rogg, or to where he acquires the nega-bands and more familiar red, blue and yellow costume.  However, what it gives us is some terrific and original, even compared to Marvel’s other premier 1960s offerings, silver age storytelling and sets the stage in a big way for Mar-Vel to join Marvel’s pantheon of heroes.  After MSH #12 Stan handed the writing chores over to Roy who, naturally, doesn’t miss a beat.  Roy and Gene Colan handle the creative chores for a little more than half way through this book, until Captain Marvel #4, at which point Arnold Drake, who wrote Doom Patrol for DC, picks up the writing and Don Heck the art.  At this point the stories and art still are good but not quite up to Stan, Roy and Gene’s level.  One thing that did surprise me is that despite the fact that I can’t stand Vince Colletta’s inks (he butchered much of Jack Kirby’s best work on Thor and his work on George Perez’s earliest Avengers work is awful) his work over Gene Colan’s sometimes wild pencils works really well.  Also, I’ve never been much a fan of Don Heck’s work on The Avengers or Tales of Suspense (Iron Man) but here, under John Tartaglione’s inks, his art’s actually pretty dynamic, especially the battle scenes.  Still, it’s under Roy Thomas and Gene Colan that Captain Marvel, in this volume, really is the most impressive, powerful and dramatic.

All ‘n all, I enjoyed the hell out of this little Marvel silver age gem and recommend it heartily to anyone thinking of adding it to his Masterworks collection or to any fan of this noble character and looking to enhance his Captain Marvel library.

Batman: Ego
DC Comics
Written by: Darwyn Cooke
Drawn by: Darwyn Cooke

Last week DC released a hardcover called “Batman: Ego and Other Tails” which collects the Bat-related stories of Darwyn Cooke and includes Batman: Ego, Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score and other Batman stories by Cooke.  I didn’t buy it as I already own the two primary stories, but I thought I’d present my thoughts here about the title story when I first read it.

Several years ago I went on a bit of a Batman trade paperback buying tear.  I just couldn’t get enough of The Dark Knight and I think it’s safe to say I may have more Batman books than books for any other character in a comic book library that spans three separate rooms in my house.  I picked up Batman: Ego six years ago because, well, frankly, the way-cool art deco cover just grabbed me, flipping through it the stylized art looked great, and the book was thin enough at only 64 pages that I thought it’d be a quick and diverting read if I ever needed such a thing.  I’d never heard of Darwyn Cooke, the book’s writer and artist, and the unbelievable talent who later gifted us with The New Frontier, at the time that I bought it.  It sat on my shelf for years.  I think you can tell where I’m going with this so I’ll move on.

Superhero comics about warring dual personalities are pretty common.  There’s Bruce Banner and The Hulk, Doc Connors and The Lizard, Kirk Langstrom and Man-Bat, Harvey Dent and Two-Face, and those are just the examples the come straight to the top of my head.  As far as dual identities, rather than dual personalities, the mid 1980s saw a little about-face on the Superman and Batman persona stuff.  Prior to the Byrne and Miller reinventions, Clark Kent was the bumbling façade for Superman and it was Bruce Wayne who had to put on the mask to become Batman.  Then Clark became the Superman character’s core personality and Bruce Wayne the mask, the façade for the true personality of The Batman.  What Darwyn Cooke does in Batman: Ego is actually split Bruce and The Batman into separate personae, much as we’ve come to learn that Bruce Banner and The Hulk are not two sides to one person but two separate entities inextricably integrated together.  And, deep in the bowls of the Batcave, while Bruce is dealing with guilt and fatigue from a recent case-gone-wrong, one that has driven him to cast off the mantle of the Bat, do these two face off against each other.  The Joker is a driving force that instigates this conflict.  He appears at the beginning, throughout the middle, and at the end.  But, unlike other hero vs. arch villain stories, this tale is an analytical exploration of what drives both Bruce and the Bat as they seek both, at first, to throw off their dependence on each other and then see if they can reconcile.  The Joker is a catalyst but not a central player in this conflict of two integrated creatures’ souls.  This is anything but a typical superhero or even Batman tale but one that’s still full of terror and tension.  It’s almost a “Heart of Darkness” Batman story where we fear that Bruce, having confronted this primal power, as in Conrad’s classic tale of evil, may not survive to rise at the end.

Darwyn Cooke used to work on art and storyboarding for Bruce Timm on The Batman/Superman Adventures and, later, Batman Beyond.  And you can really see that here.  His style looks like a blend of Timm and Steve Rude, with a dash of Kelly Jones sparingly thrown in at times.  The Batman Ego persona is monstrously large, more than twice the size of Bruce Wayne’s Id, and his form and jagged mouth bear an uncanny resemblance to Clayface from the old animated series.  And, as with The New Frontier, Cooke’s plotting, pacing and script blend wonderfully with his art to give us a haunting and terrifying tale that brings the reader deep into the intimate workings of The Batman’s psyche.  We realize that The Joker may have some competition for the title of Batman’s greatest enemy, that it may in fact be Batman himself.  This comic book debut of Cooke’s may well be the perfect companion piece to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One to help the Bat fan understand what makes The Dark Knight tick.  No Bat fan that delights in Batman canon should be without Darwyn Cooke’s Batman: Ego.

Offline Hypestyle

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 7/11/07
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2007, 12:10:38 pm »
Spoilers---

Omega Flight #4 was interesting, but it makes me frustrated that there’s only one issue left—

Michael Pointer/Guardian comes off as a Deus Ex Machina, decimating chunks of the demon horde when he finally comes to the rescue of the team.

We get to see that USAgent packs a pistol—or was he just using the gun of their CSS liaison?  (Walker’s still a blustery rube, which IMO is kind of backpedaling, but whatever..)

Thanks in part to the actions of the Wrecking Crew, unfortunately, Sasquatch is possessed (again?) by the Tanaraq-spirit, and he rampages with murderous intent..  When confronted by Guardian, he grabs him by the neck—Guardian swears he’s not going to kill again, but Sasquatch/Tanaraq shouts he has no problem with it.. (yipes)
Be Kind to Someone Today.

Offline masigl4179

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 7/11/07
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2007, 07:04:21 pm »
15. Voodoo Child#1- The only reason I'm rating this so low is because I really didn't get it, but that's ok because this was the first issue and I’m interested enough to keep on reading. It doesn't hurt that Nicholas Cage and his son Weston came up with the idea and Mike Carey is writing it.
14. Code#3- Code is a cool concept, but the dialogue is really stilted.  This is a kid’s book basically, but still it's bad Christian Brother kicking butt for the Lord.
13. Blackgas 2#3- Ok, I like this title but it was just depressing not to mention maybe misleading with the lead character Soo on the cover since she was killed last issue. Man, ya'll just need to read this because the ending is just sad.
12. Guardian Line Alpha- This may very well be the best title that I've ever read in the Guardian Line because it shows how all the different stories come together. I have high hopes that the rest of the Guardian Line will turn out this well.
11. Countdown 42- As usual the Mary Marvel story is my favorite but I was kind of feeling the Trickster and Pied Piper story as well especially the ending.
10. Exiles#96- Ok, I hate the cover and I wasn't really feeling this issue as much as the last one but I did like seeing a non deformed Victor Von Doom leading that world's version of the Fantastic Four.
9. X-factor#21- Honestly, I couldn't really remember what happened this issue at first but then I realized that the reason I liked this issue so much was because Monet may be pregnant by Madrox and Rictor and Rahne finally hooked up.
8. World War Hulk: Gamma Corps#1- Ok, I like Frank Tieri when he's working on action oriented books like this. I thought this title was a pleasant surprise. I also like how General Ryker made a reappearance to go after the Hulk.
7. The New Avengers#32- Ok, now this was interesting. This issue was very dialogue heavy, but damn what a mood it set. Bendis has been building something in his corner of the Marvel Universe and now with Elektra being outed as a Skrull who knows what's about to go down.
6. Stormwatch Post Human Division#9- Damn, I think the ending was kinda pat, but I really love the feel of this book and how the team goes about investigating the murder attempt on Jackson King. It was very procedural.
5. Fables #63- Ok, I'll admit it, this story about Flycatcher is starting to get good. I really didn't see this coming, but I like how Bill Willingham is reshaping the book possibly even making him the hero of the book.
4. Justice Society of America#7- I can tell Geoff Johns is back on the path of taking the JSA to glory. This was probably one of the best character intros I've seen in this title in a while. I mean it all the emotional numbers, and I'm really feeling Citizen Steel.
3. Nova#4- Wow, I definitely didn't the see the end of this one coming. Literally, did we readers literally witness the end of Nova (i.e. Richard Ryder) in that desolate planet stuck in Kree space that the Phalanx have taken over. So far, I’m digging Annihilation: Conquest a lot more than Annihilation.
2. Green Lantern#21 Oh man, The Sinestro Corps War is the hottest thing to hit comics so far. Yes, I said it and I meant it because Sinestro and his squad are dangerous as hell. They Green Lanterns left and right like it nothing at all.
1. Fell#8- I used to think Planetary was Warren Ellis at his best, and then Desolation Jones but it may very well be Fell. In this title Warren Ellis writes some of the best most deeply disturbing police detective stories I've ever read, but they are somewhat based on true events so it's always thought provoking as well.