RandoMonday: Justice League of America #11

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Justice League of America (2006) #11 by Brad Meltzer, Gene Ha, Rob Leigh, Art Lyon, Adam Schlagman, and Eddie Berganza, with cover by Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald

This has always been one of my favorite issues of the Brad Meltzer written JLA. I first read this in the trade collection, and in large part because of this issue and that I loved the relaunch of this title so much, I went and bought all of the single issues. This is a gripping done-in-one story focusing on Red Arrow and Vixen. A building has collapsed and they are both trapped inside. A lot of the story is Roy Harper assessing the situation and convincing Vixen to use her powers to get them free. Vixen, unfortunately, comes across as the damsel in distress and is a disservice to the character, but it does also show that heroes sometimes have feet of clay. I just think they could have easily reversed the roles, especially because of Red Arrow’s past and his anxiety over orphaning his daughter, and the story would have been just as strong, though the ending would need to be tweaked.

Ha’s and Lyon’s art really worked well to convey the claustrophobic nature of the story. There’s a reference to smoke where they are trapped and the grainy way the colors are shown really accentuates that aspect. The pacing of this story is top notch. The first page is mostly black panels with jagged borders and dialog boxes with gray text to give us what happened before page one. As each panel progresses, we see more and more of Red Arrow on the right as they situation is revealed to us, and when you turn the page, there’s a two-page spread reveal. The next few pages build the tension as Red Arrow attempts to locate how close Vixen is to himself. Then there’s another reveal demonstrating just how bad things are for the characters.

The rest of the issue is mostly discovery: that Vixen’s powers have changed and is why she can’t call upon a burrowing animal to help them escape, and, in another full-page reveal, that they are trapped upside down in the rubble. The following page is again mostly black panels with text, but the dialog boxes start off upside down and turn as you read each panel, simulating the movement of the characters in total darkness. Of course, they finally escape, and the issue ends with them ascending in the water as the panels fade to black again, just as they issue started. The dialog of the people who spot them ends with, “Sure that’s them?” “Definitely them.” “The ones who saved us.” I like it when the heroic efforts of our costumed heroes are appreciated.

Finally, there’s a few Titans references Red Arrow throws out, further endearing me to this story, such as when Dick trained him to breath and focus in a crisis situation, just as Batman had trained Dick, and Red Arrow compares the trembling in Vixen’s voice to Gar (Changeling) when he lost Terra. I love when writers/artists throw in continuity stuff, thus building a larger narrative. It’s called the DCU for a reason! :)

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10,000th Comic!

I just added the 10,000th comic to my collection, and it was the Miracleman: Golden Age hard cover collection by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham.

I would have reached this milestone before now, but I’ve sold off or gave away portions of my collection over the years, not to mention there was a time in the 1990s that I was only getting 4 or 5 comics a month. Still, wow, 10,000 floppies and trades! I guess I’ll never want for reading material. :)

RandoMonday: Batman #7

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Batman (2011) #7 by Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (pencils), Jonathan Glapion (inks), FCO (colors), Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt (letters), Katie Kubert (asst. editor), Mike Marts (editor), and Capullo and FCO (cover)

The Court of Owls storyline was one of the–if not THE–strongest storyline with the launch of DC’s New 52. The issue opens with a flashback of the night that Bruce gets his inspiration to become a bat. But then we’re shown the bat that inspired Bruce be attacked and devoured by an owl. Unlike that unfortunate flying mammal, Batman has escaped the Court’s clutches. Back at the cave, we are shown just how badly the Batman was affected by his recent imprisonment because when he sees a “dead” Talon that Alfred secured for analysis, Bruce reacts with fear, backing away from the Talon. When I read this scene originally, my first thought was “Batman wouldn’t react that way!”, but I’ve since come to appreciate the take and evolution of the character as evidenced by those few panels. Later, Dick shows up to check on Bruce. Bruce proceeds to tell Dick that the Talon in the batcave is Dick’s great-grandfather. They have a disagreement about the information that Bruce isn’t sharing, prompting Bruce to hit Dick, knocking out a tooth. It turns out that Dick had been chosen to eventually become a Talon and working for the Court of Owls but fate, and Batman, intervened. I’ll tell you, I hated that scene. It’s supposed to be dramatic and perhaps showing that Bruce isn’t reacting intellectually, but unlike the previous scene that I came around on, this one I don’t buy at all.

Capullo, Glapion, and FCO do a great job at conveying the moodiness in general, and the fear and simmering anger that Bruce feels as the issue progresses in particular. If you haven’t read the Court of Owls story, I highly encourage you do so.

RandoMonday: East of West #5

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

East of West #5 by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Dragotta (artist), Frank Martin (colors), Rus Wooton (letters)

This is a love story and one about redemption. The overall story of the series is quite grand in scope, bordering on myth, yet this issue is steeped in intimate character examination. The personification of Death falls in love with a warrior woman, they have a child together, one who, it is believed by some, is to be the Beast of the Apocalypse. So these people conspire to kill Death, chop off the warrior woman’s hands so that she cannot fight, and kill her son. When a resurrected Death arrives to see his bride, he informs her that their son is still alive, and that he is going to collect him and return to her.

Hickman and Dragotta created a very interesting landscape with this book. It’s an historical deviation and sci-fi western with very interesting characters. I love the mechanical, headless horses, for example, coupled with the 19th century American West qualities. It also reads like a Shakespearean tragedy with all the political machinations involved. It makes me wonder now why I stopped reading this title after #15 (at this time, it’s up to issue 22). Maybe I’ll hunt down those back issues.

RandoMonday: Avengers vs X-Men #8

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Avengers vs X-Men #8 by Brian Michael Bendis (script), Adam Kunert (pencils), John Dell (inks), Laura Martin with Larry Molinar (colors), Chris Eliopoulis (letters), Lauren Sankovitch (assoc. editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), and Jim Cheung and Justin Ponsor (cover)

Namor goes after the Avengers while they’re in Wakanda. The Avengers manage to take Namor down (just barely), and then the the rest of the “Phoenix 5” show up. Thankfully, the Phoenix force leaving Namor after his defeat stalls for enough time for the Avengers to high-tale it out of Wakanda. Meanwhile, Professor X contacts Scott Summers telepathically demanding Scott to stop what he’s doing or that Xavier will stop Scott.

This issue is mostly one big fight scene (OBFS™), with a few moments of futility thrown in for good measure. This is the first time since the Phoenix Force was fractured that we find that it can abandon a host and join with the remaining hosts, setting up a play for power further on. But really the only interesting thing to me is the continuity between this series and Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers run wherein Black Panther threatens to kill Namor because of his actions in AvX once the planetary invasion is dealt with.