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Offline Sam Wilson

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sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 2/27/08
« on: February 28, 2008, 03:06:35 pm »
KDawg’s Reviews

I was so impressed with this week’s worth of comics that I decided to step up to the plate and review four books.  I chose to do this while the fellas and I were going over what we should review and covering our bases. There were a lot of books we knew we had to cover and I even ended up taking one of Joe’s faves in order for him to cover others that deserved his keen analysis. Not only that, but I saw that something was hitting the stands this week that I have often heard great things about but have never given it a try…  Until today…

Criminal 2 #1
Icon/Marvel Publishing
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Drawn by: Sean Phillips

I have heard nothing but good things about Ed Brubaker’s Criminal. He’s won Eisner Awards for it. I figured as this week sees Volume 2 begin, I got a bug to check it out and give a review that’s a bit off the normal fare.

I can only express in so many adjectives how much I was truly blown away with it. I am quite an admirer of Brubaker’s writing… yes even on Uncanny X-Men. Truth be told though this is truly a sweet spot for his pacing, plotting, dialogue and narrative skill.

It’s brilliant from cover to cover. The art is the best blend of some of your comic favorites like Mignola, Sale, Miller, Maleev, Aja, and Lark. Sean Phillips brings it and he brings it just as hard and fast as Brubaker does in his deep and intricate plot.

There’s so much going on that I guarantee that I will have to re-read it to make sure I truly got it all, but sometimes that is the beauty of books like this.

We are treated to a smaller segment of an overall story that will be running through this arc. There’s a robbery that takes place off panel that will be revisited as we go, but this issue centers around prize fighter “Gnarly” and his best friend since childhood Sebastion.

The story follows Gnarly and his journey into adulthood in the 70’s as an African American prize fighter as he tries to distance himself from the life of organized crime that his father and Sebastion’s father bore him and Sebastion into. Meanwhile there is distance now between Sebastion and Gnarly as Sebastian has taken to following in his father’s footsteps with as much fervor as Gnarly tries to distance himself. The rift gets even bigger as the story goes as the inevitable female is revealed as the point at which things started to sour years ago…

Gnarly stepped aside and let the rich white kid have his girl and in process things went really bad for the girl Danica, Sebastion, and Gnarly. The wounds run deeply for years and by the end of this story it all comes to a head between them and their very different worlds.

So my review is the biggest teaser nutshell recap ever, but if you are at all curious, do yourself a favor and go pick up this issue now. If you have been reading this book, do yourself a favor and get someone who hasn’t been reading it to do so. Sure, it’s not a superhero book, but who the hell cares? A good comic is a good comic… Criminal easily gets my pick of the week amongst 3 other outstanding titles I am reviewing.

Daredevil #105
Marvel Comics
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Drawn by: Michael Lark

“Without Fear” comes crashing to its end this month as Daredevil and Mr. Fear go blow for blow on the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen. Matt has been desperate to find Fear in order to cure his wife Milla of the effect of Fear’s chemicals. Matt has been on his trail but Fear has seemingly used everything at his disposal to elude Daredevil’s wrath… until now. All of the thug’s bones that he has been breaking and methods that have been somewhat over the top for Matt have lead him to this confrontation with Mr. Fear.

Meanwhile the Hood continues to build his super-criminal syndicate and strikes a deal with Fear that benefits them both.

The two combatants are in all out combat after 6 pages as Matt is met with a Fear who has learned a thing or two, since Matt last made a joke out of him. Mr. Fear it seems has been dosing himself with his own chemicals and immunizing himself against its effect. If for no other reason, he’s done this because he hates Daredevil.

The battle reaches its conclusion and provides results that aren’t quite to Daredevil’s liking as Fear’s gas may be more permanent and disastrous to whom it has affected and there may not be anything he can do about it accept be crushed yet again under the weight of his mission and those that are caught in the crossfire between Matt Murdock and Daredevil.

Brubaker and Lark continue to deliver stories that have made this amongst the very best and consistent that Marvel has to offer. No fluff, no mega hyped crossover events, no skrull sightings yet, just solid, solid freaking storytelling that is enjoyable month after month. There is so much back and forth as to which is Bru’s better book in Captain America or this one, but the best part is, you can enjoy the hell out of both. I have been with this volume of Daredevil since the beginning and it has never been more fun for me than it is now with Brubaker and Lark guiding the man without fear… He’s got some darkness headed his way in the coming months, but I don’t think that Matt Murdock can exist in a world without pain and sorrow.

Batman #674
DC Comics
Written by: Grant Morrison
Drawn by: Tony Daniel

HOLY HEARTFAILURE!!! Finally I read an issue of Morrison’s Batman and run and I love it. The past few issues (not including the lackluster resurrection of R’as) all come to a satisfying resolution as Bruce finally gets his sh*t together enough to save the day. Meanwhile the plot comes together enough for my dumbass to have a much needed AH HAH!

Seriously though… I just read an interview at newsarama this week that featured Morrison. It talked about his plans and intentions on the title and I truly believe that particular insight has helped me understand a bit more of what he is trying to accomplish with his run and I have to say that I can appreciate it a bit more. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that at times it gets bogged down by its own complexity, but I can see that Morrison is trying to take Batman to a place where he is condensing 60+ years of history into the span of about 15 years as the page turns.

It turns out that the GCPD was running a little operation deep in secret. A secret Batman replacement program, just in case the bat ever was taken out of the fight. Years ago Batman subjected himself to isolation as a means to further immerse himself in his mission. The doctor who administered that isolation used the same tactics on these replacement Batmen and has taken them to a very dark place as to replicate the pain that is the driving force behind Bruce’s mission.

All of this is explained to us as one of the Batmen makes the usual villain mistake and talks for long enough that Bruce’s brilliant mind realizes a proper escape act and can begin to finally take the fight in a direction more suitable to what he wants. In fact you always have to love a little homage to Lethal Weapon and the old dislocated shoulder trick to escape your own bonds and out the hurt on the bad guys after.

Meanwhile Jim Gordan is given a look into this covert operation that came to pass when he was demoted in the GCPD and gives the officers who tapped out of the program a chance to stand up under his watch and do the right thing.

Tony Daniel puts in his best effort to date on the art and again delivers greatness. I’ve always likes his art and I feel like Batman has a major victory for having someone with his talents on board. I really liked this issue in terms of the overall wrap up to something that I was hoping beyond hope would happen… resolution… it did and I am satisfied with how it all finally came together.

X-Men Legacy #208
Marvel Comics
Written by: Mike Carey
Drawn by: Scot Eaton and John Romita Jr.

So in the shadows of the setting sun that was Messiah Complex, X-Men becomes X-Men Legacy and begins the next chapter of Professor Charles Xavier and his dream. Charles has a lot to answer for his actions of the past few years in Marvel time. These actions have drawn scrutiny and even heated words from his first student and field General Cyclops.

At the very end of Messiah Complex, Charlie took a shot from Bishop’s gun right to his cranium and as Exodus describes in this issue, there is not much left of it.

Does that mean the end for Charles? Nah… Exodus and a few others that you might not suspect have nabbed Xavier right out from under the X-Men in the “controversial” last panel of Messiah Complex. They have taken him as Exodus seems to be the one man who can rebuild Charles mind from the ground up and save him. I know it sounds pretty silly, but Carey pulls the idea off by taking us through a series of Xavier flash backs and character moments that would imply that Bishop’s bullet wasn’t as fatal as it may seem.

This is not to say that Exodus is having an easy time of things though and in fact, he needs help from someone that many fans will be VERY happy to see gracing the pages of an X book again.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel a Xavier centric book… But with Mike Carey handling the writing, it’s a bit of a no brainer for me as the man has really proved himself to be the MAN in the X-universe for cataloging the mutants adventures.  Not since the Heyday of Claremont has there been a writer better at these characters than Carey and his first issue of Legacy (though it’s not a new title really) was fantastic and seamless with events now occurring in the X Universe.

I am very anxious to see what comes next as the new players rally around to save Xavier and his mind, which is something that all mutants, evil and valiant alike, can appreciate is worth saving as it is one of the most important minds on earth.

Great book… great week… would that they could all be this way!

Sam Wilson’s Reviews

Kick-Ass #1
Marvel Comics
Written by: Mark Millar
Drawn by: John Romita Jr. 

Kick-Ass not only has a wicked awesome title, but it reunites one of the better creative teams Wolverine has seen in the last five years, Mark Millar and JR jr (remember the “Enemy of the State” storyline?).  Personally I feel JR jr is one of the industries most undercredited artist (I say that a lot, don’t I?).  Young people may remember him from the recent “World War Hulk” series, and maybe Sentry, but us old timers have a plethora of his work to admire, and each run was defining to that title, Iron Man, Daredevil, Uncanny X-men, Punisher War Zone, JR jr graced each of those titles with his heavy hitting (dare I say it) kick-ass style.  I still remember that issue of Daredevil where the Punisher was about to chuck a punk off a rooftop, holding him high above his head.  Damn that’s the stuff.  Mark Millar is more of a modern master, redefining the group concept with DC/Wildstorm’s “The Authority”, and doing the same thing for Marvel with “The Ultimates” one and two.  I could go on all day, but I won’t, instead I’ll talk for a minute about “Kick-Ass”…

So “Kick-Ass”, well, kicks ass.  There, I said it, you saw it coming.  Don’t lie.  Anyway, “Kick-Ass” is a superhero tale about a regular joe who puts on a pair of tights (a wet-suit actually) and becomes a superhero.  Not instantly mind you, it was a career path young Dave Lizewski, comic fan, just happened into.  Being obsessed with comic books, young, ignorant (or carefree?  Either way…) and not wanting to be trapped in a “normal” life Dave figures he can be a superhero.  The only problem is being a super hero in the real world isn’t so easy for one who has no super powers or your standard non superpowered superhero traits.  Yes, as we soon learn young Dave is a man in traction, but that’s apparently not going to stop him because this is just the first issue.

This book is something wholly different in the clichéd, overcrowded comic market we are all used to.  The language may turn off some, but whatever. Don’t let that get in the way.  “Kick-Ass” kicks ass, check it out.  Nuff said…

Ultimate Spider-Man #119
Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by: Stuart Immonen

For those of you who haven’t been following the adventures of the teenage Peter Parker lately, let me tell you, he’s been through a lot in the past year or so.  Never mind the clone business and his final showdown with the Kingpin, recently Peter Parker got back together with Mary Jane after breaking up with Kitty Pryde, only to have Kitty show up at his high school as a new student.  Yeah, and Aunt May also knows Peter is Spider-Man (along with half of New York apparently).  Couple this with the death of Harry Osborne, Peter’s one-time best friend, in a battle with SHIELD and Harry’s father, Norman (only this SHIELD is minus Nick Fury, Carol Danvers is in charge.  Peter doesn’t really like her as much as good ol’ Nick).  Believe it or not after all that drama things are starting to settle down for Peter and crew.  Last issue we say that MJ has a part time job at the mall, Kitty is now dating Kong, the former school bully who has a huge crush on her, and Liz is going through some weird kind of hormonal thing.  Yeah, and then Johnny Storm shows up looking for a bit of normalcy in his life and he remembers the crush he had on Liz, so he invited the gang out to the beach for some r and r, which starts out normal enough until Liz starts on fire…

Issue 119 starts out with Liz freaking out over recent events, namely her starting on fire.  She’s fairly certain Johnny Storm is the one who set her on fire, everyone else is fairly certain she’s a mutant.  At first Liz is in disbelief, but she comes to terms with it, but isn’t so keen on becoming a hero, and shortly thereafter she runs into her first brick wall, aka Magneto.  All that and Peter learns pretty much everyone in the free world knows he’s Spider-Man. 

Yes, Mark Bagley is not around but Bendis is still holding it down and Stuart Immonen is holding down the fort like a champ.  Ultimate Spider-Man is the best Spidey book out there hands down, check it out and just say no to that “One More Day” bullcrap…

She Hulk #25
Marvel Comics
Written by: Peter David
Drawn by: Shawn Moll
Cover by: Mike Deodato

Since her debut in the early ‘80’s, She Hulk, aka Jennifer Walters aka Shulkie has been both savage and sensational. She’s been a lawyer, a member of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers and has gone crazy and killed the Vision even (seriously). She’s had relations with the Juggernaught (ewww), Wyatt Wingfoot, John Jameson, Luke Cage and even Tony Stark. She’s broken the fourth wall, beaten the crap out of Titanna more times than most and is Marvel’s ultimate gamma powered girl power fantasy woman who takes no guff, whups ass and does it all with a smile and a wink. Then we got Peter David (PAD to his fans). Best known for his work on the “Incredible” Hulk, Mr. David’s run on the Hulk is right up there with other legendary Marvel “runs”, including Frank Miller’s Daredevil and John Byrne’s Fantastic Four. It was only a matter of time, one would figure, that his humorous and intelligent style would lead him towards She Hulk, a match made in heaven if you ask me. So where does that leave Jen? Recently she rejected Tony Starks offer of registration and she subsequently lost her powers, her cousin made most of the Earth’s heroes his slaves (see World War Hulk for more of that) and she gained her powers back but is done with lawyering and now finds employment as a skip tracer (re: Bounty Hunter).  Jen isn’t at it by herself though, she has a new partner who assumes the identity of regular non Shulkie Jennifer Walters by day, but at night (or whenever she wants) she’s really Jaz, a Skrull who is on the run because her father wants to kill her.  Yes, two hot green chicks and a Winnebago, and so it goes…

The current story arc started two issues ago with Jen hot on the trail of the man who blew up the bar she was in (issue #24), but then she gets sidetracked by a green alien (who goes by the name Cazon) on the run who needs help. Jaz wants to help the young man, but Jen is sick of superheroing and the empty feelings it leaves her and wants nothing to do with it.  It turns out this “green alien” is on the run from a badoon bounty hunter, whom Jen decides to take on when he attacks Jaz.  Meanwhile, Jaz discovers Cazon is indeed a bad guy as he kills an innocent camper and takes her husband hostage. Jinkies.  Anyway, in this issue Jennifer tussles with a bear and threatens to shove a gun up a Badoon’s ass, which helps her come to the realization she really is a hero.  Huh…

I’m in. Peter David is back and Shulkie is hotter than ever. With a great supporting cast and a new direction, what more could one want? So pick this up, everyone could use some more Jennifer in their lives. Word.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 2/27/08
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2008, 03:06:59 pm »
Wktf’s Reviews

Wow!  What a week for comics!  Last week, when I looked at Diamond’s list for this week, figuring out which titles I might want to review, I was stunned at what a rich offering we’d get!  I mean, in the same week: Captain America! Daredevil! Thor!  The new Kick-Ass!  JSA!  And, the title that’s a guilty pleasure every month, All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder!  And there’s more, too!  How am I supposed to choose which books to review with only so many hours in a night to crank these out?  I ended up pushing my usual three comics to five this week.  Man, it’s a great week to love comic books!

Thor #6
Marvel Comics
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Drawn by: Olivier Coipel

I think for many, this title has been a bit of a surprise.   The new Thor comic has been a hit with fans and a sales boon for Marvel.  And this issue marks, I understand, the end of JMS’ inaugural story arc for the Thunder God’s new title.  A few have also voiced some complaints (ones I don’t share) that this comic has been moving too slowly and is short on action.  Given the trauma of Thor’s, and the rest of Asgard’s, demise the gradual reintegration of Thor and his fellow Norse Gods has been handled by both Mssrs. Straczynski and Coipel rather elegantly.  Plus, we got some rockin’ battles against Iron Man (albeit, satisfyingly one-sided) and The Destroyer, the return of (Thor’s now-sister?) Loki and a hint that Dr. Doom (in cahoots with the canny Loki) still has eyes on Thor’s godly power since tying to hoist Mjolnir in the pre-Civil War pages of Fantastic Four.

In addition to being able to mystically reconstruct Asgard, Mjolnir’s power is capable of drawing forth his Asgardian brethren from the human hosts in whom they’ve lain dormant since Ragnarok.  Though attempting to strategically free selected Asgardians one at a time, presumably in an effort not to free trouble makers like Loki and The Enchantress, it appears that the wily Loki tricked Thor into an indiscriminant mass resurrection to help him battle The Destroyer (housing, unbeknownst to him his dear friend, Baldar).  The big shock with this issue is that Thor was trying to avoid another resurrection, as well, and one we certainly wouldn’t expect him to avoid given his profound grief over the loss of this central and beloved character.  Still, from his discussion with Heimdall, Thor’s reasons are not entirely unfounded.

For those I mentioned who find this series short on action, this issue will disappoint them further.  Even for me, it was a bit slow.  Still, it was long on humor and interesting Midgardian/Asgardian interactions, including the ongoing conversation between Donald Blake and Thor…a dynamic not explored by any other writer in the character’s 40+ years.  The Norse Gods’ attendance, and especially Volstagg, at a town meeting is a hoot.  Hogun lends a Good Samaritan’s hand to a local and his son.  And there’s a truly curious, beguiling and, seemingly, romantic interlude between a mortal diner worker named Bill and the lovely immortal named Kelda.  Thor actually doesn’t even appear until near the end, basically throwing up his hands at his surgical approach to bringing back his kinsmen and seems to play directly into Loki’s hands through a spectacular display of last ditch power.  For the end of an arc in this age of made-for-trade comic stories, this one ends on a rather unresolved note.  But that’s okay as I have no intention of abandoning this title.  JMS and Coipel do a fantastic job with this issue, as they have with all the issues before hand.  I’m ecstatic Thor is back and in the extraordinary capable hands of two creators who so love this character.

JSA #13
DC Comics
Story by: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Written by: Geoff Johns
Drawn by: Dale Eaglesham

"Thy Kingdom Come" continues, and JSA continues to be one of the single best comics produced by any company.  Geoff Johns is amazing!  Who else could populate one title with so many superpowered characters and write the title in a way that the reader can keep pace and in step with everything that’s going on.  Not since the Steve Englehart days on The Avengers, back in the 1970s, have I seen a team book handled so well.  For those who haven’t been reading this, the Kingdom Come Superman quite literally fell into the JSA ranks a few issues back and has joined the team to help prevent the tragedy that destroyed his own world.  In addition, The Justice Society has been tracking the "Heartbreak Slayer," a mysterious serial killer targeting super-villains, for months. Their activities have led them to discover a menace called Gog, a name that sounds hauntingly like the Magog of the Kingdom Come Superman’s world and, at one time, the bane of that Superman’s existence (please pick up a copy of Kingdom Come and read it immediately if you don’t understand what I’m talking about).

Of course, the JSA knows that the Earth-1 Superman battled a man named Gog over a year ago, causing the older otherworldly Superman to seek out our Earth’s Superman for a pow-wow on this troubling revelation.  Johns is such a great writer, I couldn’t help but feel the Kingdom Come Superman’s pain as he zoomed toward Metropolis only to hear the interactions of people he knew on a world now long gone.  Especially poignant is his exposure to our Superman’s Lois, a scene that brings our Superman our either to meet or intercept his older and darker counterpart.  But, it turns out, not only older and darker but far more powerful, something we learn as this story, appropriately titled “Supermen,” progresses.  The two Kryptonians team up and explore a menace that can’t bode well for the DCU.  I know the promo posters for Final Crisis show the Kingdom Come Superman conversing with a collection of villains.  For those of us who know and love this character, it’s hard to imagine how this is possible.  I think this issue is the beginning of that path, whatever it is.

Eaglesham’s pencils aren’t quite up to John’s writings, but his art is perfectly serviceable to render a great story.  Alex Ross’ cover though, reminiscent of those great 1970s JLA and Avengers covers, is just killer.  If ever a cover could sell a book, this one should do it.  JSA is one of the best titles almost no one’s talking about.  If you’re not reading this book I suggest this issue might be a great point to jump on.  It’s definitely one of the best written superhero books on the market today.  And, c’mon, the Kingdom Come Superman’s back in action.

Captain America #35
Marvel Comics
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Drawn by: Butch Guice & Mark Perkins

The single greatest comic book in the history of creation continues!  Oh, okay…yeah, a little hyperbole there, I’ll admit.  Still, when Bucky suited up this issue and launched himself in to the chaos of a rioting crowd, I swear I was seeing Captain America in action!  You simply will not be able to find a bigger Steve-Rogers-is-Captain-America fan than me.  I’m still crushed that Steve is dead.  But, I tell you, I’m beginning to start thinking of James Buchanan Barnes as Captain America.  And Guice (who, I assume, is just filling in for regular artist Steve Epting) proves that, along with Kirby and Epting, he’s one of the very few top tier artists to draw Cap in shield-slinging action.  Check out the very first issue of this Brubaker/Epitng relaunch to see some fantastic Epting work, and check out this issue if you don’t believe me about Guice.

All hell is breaking loose in America right now.  With the faked death of Aleksander Lukin, the ex-Soviet General and CEO of energy giant Kronas Corporation, whose mind the Red Skull has been inhabiting, worldwide oil prices are skyrocketing, the Dow is falling, and mortgages are being foreclosed by a Kronas subsidiary which ties the company to the sub-prime mortgage debacle our country is experiencing today.  Protesters have taken to the streets.  A small group, namely Tony Stark, The Black Widow, The Falcon and Bucky Barnes have figured out this is the first wave of the panic the Skull is planning but, seriously its only the beginning of the Red Skull’s master plan.  With the mind-controlled SHIELD agents firing on an open crowd in Washington last issue, tensions on the streets are higher than ever.  And with Dr. Faustus in league with The Red Skull, and with his influence’s being felt, chaos truly begins to tightly grip hold of the country.

This whole issue starts rather quietly but then just explodes into action.  Bucky doesn’t have time to figure out if he’s up to the task.  In com-link communication with The Black Widow he’s got to do what he can to keep the mad crowd and the police from killing each other.  See my first paragraph.  He launches himself into action.  And, quite naturally, by the end of the issue he goes from the frying pan straight into the fire.  If you’re not reading Captain America, at this point there’s no hope for you.  As always, this book is the one to beat every month and once again I’m making it my pick of the week.

All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder #9
DC Comics
Written by: Frank Miller
Drawn by: Jim Lee

Did I say in my intro that this book is a guilty pleasure to read?  Knowing there’s been an outcry against this title and being disgusted with it, at first, myself, I’ve come to absolutely love Frank Miller’s over-the-top, borderline absurd scripting combined with Jim Lee’s visually stunning art.  It’s like a massive bowl of chocolate ice cream you know you’re not supposed to eat but are just loving life with every spoon full.  This issue is no exception.  The newly formed Justice League is on the trail of the Dark Knight, especially now that it seems he’s kidnapped the orphaned Dick Grayson.  Batman’s description of each member of the League is just too funny for words.  I’m actually looking forward to seeing what happens in the event Wonder Woman tries to take him down, based on her behavior a couple of issues ago and the choice words Batman uses to describe her.  Last issue Green Lantern requested a consultation to try to talk Batman down from his rabid approach to crime fighting.  This issue, that consultation is granted, with disastrous results for poor Hal, at first, and then even more disastrous results for Robin and Batman.

This take on Robin is both fresh and disturbing.  Batman’s respect and awe in his new found partner is surprising and also a bit disturbing.  And Robin’s new found fear at the enthusiastic demonstration of his awesome abilities, performed with frightening vigor on Green Lantern, and Batman’s fury at himself for enabling Robin thusly leads to what is the first truly human reaction from Batman, as well as the interaction between Batman and the new Robin, in this entire run.  I actually wasn’t prepared for the last two pages and, as a result, they hit me pretty hard.  After everything we’ve seen from Frank Miller and Jim Lee, separately, over the last few decades I didn’t know I could be surprised and impressed, but there you have it.  What started off as another over-the-top story ended with one of the strongest and most human moments I’ve read in comics in a very long time, at least since Captain America’s funeral service.  If any of you dropped this title early on, I suggest you pick this issue up and discover for yourself if you might be missing something special.

Black Panther Annual #1
Marvel Comics
Written by: Reginald Hudlin
Drawn by: Larry Stroman

If you’re tired of all the continuity or event-laden stories from either of the big two comics company, or are just looking for a really well written, beautifully illustrated and diverting one-shot totally-out-of-continuity story, I’ve got your comic book right here.  Reggie Hudlin has unabashedly titled this Annual “Black to the Future.”  Is he making a statement or going for shock value?  Especially since is billing this as “A special double-sized issue to commemorate Black History Month”?  Well, some might think so but, honestly, when good storytelling is what’s driving the tale, the entertainment value alone makes it worth the read.  Besides, the core message in this tale has nothing to do with race, so anyone refusing to pick it up feeling otherwise should just get over themselves.

Remember when Uatu, The Watcher, shocked everyone by showing up at T’Challa and Ororo’s wedding?  The Watcher never shows up anywhere unless the occurrence is of monumental significance or influence.  Now it’s several decades in the future and, as it turns out, Wakanda under T’Challa and Storm’s rule has become an Imperial Power steering the course for humanity’s future.  A new Black Panther leads Wakanda and T’Challa and Storm’s elest son, named for T’Challah’s father, is getting ready to be married.  Given what’s going on in current Marvel continuity, I have to tell you that the identity of the young man’s bride-to-be put a huge smile on my face, though only her father is present at the wedding (unless I missed her mother in the crowd of well wishers).  The identity of the father and his new role in this world of the future probably will make a lot of people happy, too.

The majority of this story revolves around T’Wari, the groom’s younger brother and his problem with the upcoming wedding.  Though marriages like Reed and Sue’s are far longer standing in the Marvel Universe, it’s the interaction between T’Challa and Storm, and the powerful respect this man has for his incredible wife, which yields one of the most satisfying marital relationship in comics (not to say Reed’s respect for Sue isn’t pretty profound, too).  T’Challa knows his younger son has disappeared, but he also knows he is not the one to go after him.  To his point, it’s not the finding of this boy that’s important but the conversation that must be had with him.  And here we are given a history lesson, some of which is in our future, for how Wakanda came to be the power it is and how world relations come to be.  Fans of one major Marvel character in particular may not be pleased with this story but, for me, Hudlin and Stroman have created a benign (even though there are casualties) parable of the future that pleasantly gives hope to Marvel’s strife torn present.  Yes, it is “black to the future” in more ways than one, as I referenced at the end of my second paragraph, but only on the surface.  The principles espoused in this Annual are too universal to be divisive in any way.

Wktf’s Trade Review

The Green Arrow by Jack Kirby
DC Comics
Written by:  Bill Finger, Jack Kirby, Dave Wood, Ed Herron, Robert Bernstein
Drawn by: Jack Kirby

A question came up on a forum about the worst of Jack Kirby.  There’s so much praise for Kirby out there, and count me among the King’s die hard fans (I grew up reading his FF, Cap and Thor), that this question didn’t garner many responses.  His return to Marvel in the mid-1970s produced some truly awful Black Panther and Captain America stories (“Madbomb,” anyone?) but, aside from those two, not much was offered up.  One question was asked, however, about Kirby’s little known run on DC’s Green Arrow, whether it “worth tracking down or did he pull a '76 Captain America on it?”  I knew, from reading my Kirby history, that Jack had a small artistic stretch on GA back in the 1950s but had never read it nor bothered to track it down.  I was surprised to find so many copies of the trade collection on eBay, and many at or near the original cover price of $5.95.  So, naturally, being a fan of the character and the artist I figured this was a pretty low risk, low cost acquisition.

Mark Evanier, former Kirby assistant and current Kirby historian and convention speaker, provided the three page introduction to this 2001 trade.  Unbelievable as it may seem, back in 1958, only a year after Jack Kirby had created Challengers of the Unknown for DC, a full decade after he and Joe Simon created Captain America and just a few years before he and Stan Lee would create the Marvel Universe starting with The Fantastic Four, Jack Kirby was knocking on doors looking for work to support his family and pay his bills.  The industry was in rough shape and Jack probably had to call in some favors but, despite other artists’ being turned away by all the comics companies, Kirby was essentially thrown a bone and offered the Green Arrow backup strip that appeared concurrently in Adventure Comics and in World’s Finest Comics.  Jack drew eleven 6-page Green Arrow stories, all of which are reprinted in this little book, and inked them with his beloved wife, Roz.

So, how are these stories?  Honestly, they’re as goofy as can be.  But, to own this book is to own a small piece of Kirby history and to forgive the time period in which they were written, a time when Batman practically was as sweet as a Camp Fire Girl.  To Jack’s credit, he saw that Green Arrow’s stories were pretty bland and, typical Kirby, decided he wanted to build it into something special that had a better chance of selling.  So, in addition to fighting more typical street thugs, he place Green Arrow and Speedy in more of a science fiction setting, facing off against aliens and extra dimensional beings.  In addition, remember the “bat shark repellant” from the 1960s Adam West Batman movie?  Well, West’s Batman has nothing over this Green Arrow in terms of the widest selection of crisis-appropriate trick arrows.  Here’s some actual dialogue between Green Arrow and Speedy at the end of one tale, dialogue that typifies the tone and action in much of this book:

GA: Nice work - - we pulled it off in neat fashion!
S: Yeah! We shot off the two-stage rocket arrow which released the illuminated balloon arrow, resembling a full moon!  Then - -
GA: …our firecracker arrow exploded above the clouds - - sounding like thunder - -
S: And our dry-ice arrow broke open, seeding the clouds with bits of dry ice!  You know, we’re rather lucky - - everything worked!

Heh!  Yeah, they were pretty lucky!  This collection contains a luminescent arrow, vine arrow, time bomb arrow, lava arrow, ricochet arrow, paralysis arrow, boomerang arrow, rain arrow, jet arrow, acetylene arrow, short-circuit arrow, aqua-lung arrow, tear-gas arrow, smoke screen arrow, fountain pen arrow, fan arrow, net arrow and, not to be outdone, an ink arrow!  Plus, Green Arrow and Speed drive the Arrow Car, fly the Arrow Plane and are summoned by the police with the Arrow Signal!  Okay, I’m having a little fun with this but I think you at least get the sense of how corny these stories are.  Still, honestly, they also contain a lot of charm and fun…not to mention Kirby’s art is damn dynamic, even under these circumstances.  And you have to applaud Jack for pushing the boundaries beyond the comfort level of the DC editorial suits.  Ultimately though, Jack Schiff, Kirby’s DC editor, decided the fantasy elements of Kirby’s Green Arrow had to stop.  It just was too much of a departure for them and, so, eleven stories is the grand total in this book.  As long as you know what you’re buying, I heartily recommend picking this book up.  Read it for what it is and store it with pride, as I have, along with your other Jack Kirby trade books!

Offline masigl4179

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 2/27/08
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 01:18:20 pm »
Ok, I've been traveling for a while so I have a gang of comics to review, but first I want to point out 4 comics that I missed from earlier in the month.

4. Uncanny X-men#495-Ok, we are 5 issues away from Uncanny X-men 500 so you know something big is about to happen. Here's what I like abbout this issue. It shows level of respect that Cyclops deserves. Seriously for a awhile Cyclops was the bitch of the X-men overshadowed by his wife Jean Grey and team bad ass Wolverine, but ever since Apocalypse took him over a couple of years ago he has been on the upswing thanks to Grant Morrision's work over on then New X-men and Joss Whedon's work on Astonishing X-men. Well this issue White Queen allows Shanna the She Devil to see what is going on his head, basically how he is always analyzing what's going on around him so he can be prepared to take whatever threat he may face down.

3.Justice Society of America#12- I like this issue , although I thought the Amazing Man portion was a little too heavy handed coming from a white writer to my knowledge never participated in the Civil Rights movement, but by that same token I like the introduction of Black Lightning's second daughter Jennifer.

2. Ms. Marvel#24- Without a doubt this is the finest comic book starring a female character on the stands right now. Basically this issue, Ms. Marvel's gets her old Binary powers and mainlines the Universe. Of course the power runs out at the most inopportune time but still it's one hell of a read.

1. Fables#69-This comic is absolutely excellent. This issue makes the conclusion of the Good Prince storyarc and I have to admit it is absolutely brilliant. Fable is definitley going to win the Eisner this year yet again. I just love how it sums up in the end when a lowly Janitor endured mayn trials and saved many lost people and then he became a great and powerful king  to bring peace

Offline masigl4179

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 2/27/08
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 03:18:28 pm »
24 picks
24. The Sadhu#5- I'm glad it's over. I liked the concept but I don't think it reads well in single issue format. If I find the time I would like to sit and read it over again in one sitting.
23. Batman#674- I'm dicking this issue because I still don't know where Grant Morrisson is going with this title. He's all over the place on this title.
22. Countdown to Final Crisis#9- Here's what I like...everyone is finally together. Here's what I don't seems like I'm being strung along until the big finale.
21. All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder#9- This comic book is pure fluff but I have to admit the whole Robin being dangerous was an interesting angle. Also, it seems more and more like Frank Miller is becoming Garth Ennis who we all know hates Superheroes.
20. Thor#6- This issue has a lot of funny little human moments with the Asgardians interacting with the local town folks, but I for one am tired fo the slowness of this story.
19. Thunderbolts :International Incident- Honestly, I'm not a big fan of these Thunderbolts one shots, but this one was fairly decent. I think the thing with me is that I didn't really know anything about the Radioactive Man or even the Swordsman for that matter so I really didn't care. Hell, I actually got bored the first time I read it but it was a lot better the 2nd time I read it.
18. Gravel#1- This is a rare occurence indeed where a Warren Ellis comic doesn't rank in the  top ten but so far Gravel hasn't really grabbed me yet. Maybe it's because about magic and its Brittish. Still this comic is really out there.
17.Legion of SuperHeroes#39- I'm not sure where Jim Shooter is going with this title yet, but I find it interesting. I like his take on the characters so far. This issue we get see how Princess Projectra attempts to deal with the loss of her status as well a Princess. Luckily she still has her powers.
16. X-men$208- So Xavier is still alive but he has a big hole in his brain. Interesting. Also, Exodus is trying to raid his psyche and lo and behold Magneto shows up in the end as well. Something big is brewing
15.Marvel Zombies#5- Eh, it makes sense and it works.  I don't know if there is a need for another Marvel Zombies comic but I can't say I wouldn't buy it.
14.Young Avengers presents Hulkling#2- Actually I like this issue. It was a huge improvement over the the 1st issue. What I like the most about this issue was Captain Marvel's reaction to finding out Hulking was his son... You know he was just nonchalant, because how do you deal with something like that.  Interesting indeed.
13. Return of the Super Pimps#4- I dig this comic. It's just pure blackplotation fun, although I wish I could find a way to keep track of the issues, but I know I how it is with this small indy black comics.
12. She Hulk#26- I think this issue was kinda poignant because basically a woman was senselessly murdured for no reason. However, maybe justice was served in the end when the murderer, the alien Cazon was murdered by the Skrull in hiding Jazcinda.
11.Captain America#35- Man, Bucky look good as Captain America. Nuff said. Oh, Sharon Carter aka Agent 13 is pregnant with Steve Rogers child too, huh? Who knoes what's going to happen next in this title .
10. Doctor Who#1- With comic adaptations of Tv shows you never know what you are going to get, but this Dr. Who comic is going to get a passing grade from me. Seriously, it's just like watching the show.
9.Action Comics#862- Yeah, I will admit this story is running kinda long but I dig it and I think it is a modern day classic. Next issue is the big conclusion as Superman and the Adult Legion of Super Heroes should finally beat Earth man and his crooked Justice League. Man, this is a really good adventure.
8. Criminal#1- So what is this volume 2 of Ed Brubaker's hit indie series? Yep, and I have to admit that it was really good focusing on the sad story of a black boxer named Gnalry. Man, I know I have done a lot of complaining about white writiers writing black characters but this story gets no complaints from me.
7. Black Panther Annual#1- On the cover it says Black to the Future, and I think that does a very important job of summing up the content of this issue. Basically, Storm and T'Challa take over the world but in the course of doing so they make it a better place. Still the part that gets to me the most is that Tony Stark comes to head to head with T'Challa as usual but he loses his life in the process this time. The arrogance of elitist white men.
6. Damage Control#2- Dwayne McDuffie is a hoot,and I'm happy to see him back in his own universe over in Damage Control. I'm not so sure about the ending but I love how well the characters flow in this comic. Hell, from time to time Damage Control seems more like a sitcom than a comic book.
5.Justice Socity of America#13- This was good, because this was what I like to call the build-up issue.  You can look at the cover and see 15 of the team's members to see that there is a lot going on. Still my favorite part is the beginning when Jakeem Thunder meet's Black Lightning's 2nd daughter because I can see the romance blooming between them. Hopefully it will work out better than things did for Stargirl and Captain Marvel
4. Teen Titans#56- I'm surprised by how much I liked this issue, because I'm really not a Teen Titans fan even under Geoff Johns writing, but I have to admit that Sean McKeever has really found a good voice on this title. I really, really connected with the plight of Kid Devil and I'm happy with the choice he made despite the way it all ended.
3.Fables#70- After the conclusion of the Good Prince Fables reinvents itself again or rather shifts its focus to other characters but it's still good, although I have to admit I felt bad for Blue Boy, when he finally gets the courage to ask Rose Red out, he finds out that his moment has passed. Ouch.  Also, a lot of the Farm Fables decided whether or not to stay or go to FlyCatcher's kingdom.
2. Kick-Ass#1- Honestly, I don't want to give Mark Millar to much credit but he may one of the greatest over the top story tellers in comics. Seriously, I was laughing out loud on a flight while reading this. Unlike say Garth Ennis who obviously doesn't like Superheroes, Mark Millar turns the concept on its ass and comes up with the reverse of Wanted...Kick-Ass. Do yourself a favor chek out this first issue.
1.Jack of Fables#20- Perhaps this issue shouldn't have made my number 1 spot but after some recent episodes in my life I can relate to Jack's sexual escapades. The cover says it all especially the part where he is kicked in the nuts. Hey sure what Jack did was in bad form but like him I would have said I regret nothing