RandoMonday: The Shade #12

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

The Shade #12 by James Robinson (w), Gene Ha (a), Art Lyon (c), Todd Klein (l), & Tony Harris (cover)

It’s always interesting when the randomizer chooses the final issue of a title that has not appeared in a previous RandoMonday post, but it is also interesting that this final issue of the series is the origin story of the Shade.

The Shade was a 12-issue story, and while it was indicated as such on the first issue, the “of 12” part was removed with issue #2 on. Plus, after the first few issues, Mr. Robinson took to Twitter and other outlets to drum up support because the series was threatened to be cancelled. Fortunately, as you can see, it was not. I wanted to read this series because it featured my favorite character from the Starman series, also by Mr. Robinson. Before Starman, the Shade was a two-bit villain, and mostly a villain du jour for the Flash. But Starman developed the Shade into a nuanced character and interesting sometimes anti-hero. This series picks up somewhat from where we last saw the Shade: still in Opal City and still with Hope O’Dare.

This origin story is lovingly drawn by Gene Ha, and I must also note the lettering done by Todd Klein. The Shade’s monologuing is done in script, as this is an entry in the Shade’s journal that Hope is reading. I sometimes had a difficult time reading some of the words, but despite that, the script effectively evokes another time (the story is set in the 1880s). Finally, the coloring palette by Art Lyon is very muted, reminding me of olden times, though I wish there had been a bit more color variety to the pages.

Still, a lovely tale, if not an odd way to end this series. In fact, the title of the story in the issue is “Family Ties, Part 1“. I think Mr. Robinson was hopeful that we’d get another Shade series down the road (in fact, I know this because he told me so at an Emerald City Comicon–he even was trying to sweeten the deal with DC by coming up with a story that involved Batman). Until Robinson is successful in returning the Shade to us (which seems unlikely because of his departure from DC and his recent move to doing some Marvel comics), you can do no wrong in picking this up in trade.

What I’m looking forward to on New Comics Wednesday!

Just in the nick of time, here’s a quick look at some titles out today that I’m looking forward to reading.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #2: I enjoyed issue one well enough, despite the art. I’m interested to see where DeConnick takes us with Carol.

DAREDEVIL #17: Always a great read. I just found out that Chris Samnee (it’s pronounced Sahm-nee, kids–I just found that out today, too) is the new ongoing artist since Paolo Rivera has moved on to new things (which is too bad–no knock against Samnee, I just prefer Rivera’s work on DD).

EXTERMINATION #3: This title is on the bubble for me, but it improved from issue 1 to issue 2, so I hope that trend continues.

HARBINGER #3: This is a new addition to my Pull List (thanks Lee!).

MICHAEL AVON OEMING’S THE VICTORIES #1: So looking forward to reading this, despite the fact that the official title includes the creator’s name. :D

REVIVAL #2: Issue 1 started out strong and I hope the sophomore issue continues that.

SAGA #6: Again, just because it’s soooo good.

SHADE #11: Ditto. And Frazer Irving’s art.

WONDER WOMAN #12: I hear there’s a cool surprise at the end. Don’t spoil it for me Internet!

What I’m looking forward to on New Comics Wednesday!

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #9: What? A Marvel book in my Looking Forward To list? Yeah. Why? The new Captain Marvel makes her first appearance (even though it’s technically after her appearance in her ongoing title, out the following week).

BATMAN #11: Despite the disappointing reveal of the long-lost brother from last issue, I am looking forward to seeing how Night of Owls will end, in this book anyway.

BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #2: Umm, because #1 was so awesome!

FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #33: This is the beginning of the Alan Davis written and drawn series of Marvel annuals. They had me at Alan Davis….

REVIVAL #1: I initially wrote this off as yet another zombie story, but the interview with the creators on the Word Balloon podcast changed my mind.

SHADE #10: I love this series in general, but I get more Frazer Irving art this issue!

Pull List Review: Amazing Spider-Man #677 & Shade #4

Here are some reviews of comics that I read from the second week of January.

The Amazing Spider-Man #677, “The Devil and the Details”, part 1

By Mark Waid (writer), Emma Rios (artist), Javier Rodriguez (colorist), & Joe Caramagna (letterer)

Unlike some of my compatriots, I like crossovers, and we start one here between Spider-Man and Daredevil (which means I’ll be reviewing part 2 of this tale soon). Ok, keep in mind that this is the first new Amazing Spider-Man issue I’ve picked up since #295 back in 1988 (all right, I did buy #657, but I don’t count that one because I was buying it for the death of Johnny Storm angle as a way to get into FF), and I mention it only to contrast which character I started collecting comics with. Sure, I’ve kept up with the debacles that were the Clone Saga, One More Day, & O.M.I.T, but I have never felt the need to pick up Amazing Spider-Man monthly, though I do feel a little guilty, like I’m letting down an old friend. Anyway, to this issue, I’ll start off with that I do not care for Emma Rios’ art. I’ve seen worse, but it’s not for me and not a good fit for Spider-Man.

That aside, I love what Mark Waid brings to the table. I cringed when Peter was so obvious about wanting to hook up with Black Cat when he encounters her (what a cad). Fortunately, Felicia sees right through this and turns him down flat. Later, the scene where Peter seeks out Matt Murdock and totally blows away the thin facade that Matt is trying to maintain with Assistant D.A. McDuffie (read the new Daredevil comic–it’s really good) is so funny, especially when Matt pokes at Spider-Man with his cane and says loudly, “Foggy, is that you–?” :) Nicely done are the next two scenes: 1) Peter and Matt discuss swinging routes, and how Peter shouldn’t have taken Broadway to 34th, and 2) In a superhero game of chicken, Peter and Matt plummet from a skyscraper to see who will swing away first (naturally, it was Peter). If Mark Waid was writing Amazing Spider-Man, I would be buying it.

Shade #4, “Times Past: 1944”

By James Robinson (writer), Darwyn Cooke (penciller), J. Bone (inker), Dave Stewart (colorist), & Todd Klein (letterer)

Warning: Contains potential spoilery bits.

First, what a great Tony Harris cover! I really miss seeing his stuff monthly (Go read Ex Machina! You can thank me later.). Speaking of the art, how about that Darwyn Cooke? He has such a distinctive style, but I never tire of seeing it, and his work so lends itself to stories set in the past (or maybe I’ve just been happily trained to think so?). Also, Cooke (or maybe it’s Mr. Bone’s doing) incorporates a lot of shadows in the panels, and not just when Shade is onscreen. The ink that Shade is using to pen his reminiscence is shown to be either a part of the inky blackness that Shade controls (inhabits?), or under his control because of its dark quality, which is neat; but if it’s the former, then that means what? Shade could conceivably control the book he writes in? Shadow is also used to display some more unsavory images, such as the hanged man in the middle of the issue (twice!). It’s just an effective usage of ink in the story.

The story itself is a fun read, too, if for nothing else than the Golden Age guest stars: Vigilante and Madam Fatal. Of course, I know who Vigilante is, and despite being such a lame concept–motorcycle riding cowboy?–I like the guy, especially as portrayed here, though his hanging a man did give me some pause, even if he was a Nazi. But the really interesting character was Madam Fatal. I had to look her up (which you should too–I’m curious what you think about the whole “he must be gay because of…” angle), and I’d really like to see this guy return in other comics in some way. Oh! Maybe he’ll show up in James Robinson’s Earth-2 comic!

The ending to the story once again demonstrates the great character that Robinson has created in Shade beginning in Starman lo those years ago. At the beginning, you’re not sure what angle Shade’s playing at in regards to the kidnapped industrialist Caldecott, but in the end, it turns out that Shade was just trying to protect a family member. Shade’s walking along the beach with his great-grandson answering his many questions tugged at this old man’s heart strings a little. I would love to read a Shade story set in modern times and involving other superpowered people, but it has to feature this version of the Shade, not the “villain” that he has been portrayed as pre-Starman.

The other comics I read from that week were:

  • Batgirl #5
  • Batman & Robin #5
  • Batwoman #5
  • Buffy, S9 #5
  • Demon Knights #5
  • Green Lantern #5
  • The New Avengers #20
  • Resurrection Man #5
  • Suicide Squad #5
  • Unwritten #33

Let me know what you think about the issues I reviewed here. Now go read some comics!

Pull List Review: 12/14/11 Comics

Here’s week 2 of my quick and dirty Pull List reviews for December 2011. There were many issues from that week, so let’s get cracking!

Batgirl #4: So, Batgirl outwits and defeats her first new villain of the DCnU. Yeah, yeah. (As you can tell, I wasn’t all that jazzed about Mirror.) What’s interesting about this issue is the Spot the Bat app that Hugo Strange (I presume it’s him–the thug only says Hugo, but who else could it be?) released to help criminals. I really appreciate the writers (or artists–it is a collaborative effort, after all) delving into the technological side of this younger DC Universe. In Batman, we are introduced I think every issue so far to really cool tech, and I’m glad to see that it’s not just the heroes taking advantage. Although, I think I’ve read this before and recently, but regardless, I’d like to see more of this across the line. Finally, I don’t know much about Barbara’s mother pre-DCnU, but here, she’s back in Barbara’s life after having abandoned her some 8-10 (?) years earlier. I smell some mother-daughter angst coming, and Gail Simone is good with that.

Batman & Robin #4: This continues to be one of the most solid Batman books, and that includes both story and art (for the most part). A lot of the DCnU books have introduced new villains and they haven’t been that interesting, but Nobody works because there’s a connection to Bruce’s past, then add in Damian’s angst and anger and you have a hella lot of story potential. Again, though, Alfred steals the show with his soliloquy about Damian realizing how human Bruce really is. Bruce may be Damian’s father by blood, but it is Alfred who continues to be the father figure to the Wayne household. I just hope Pete Tomasi continues to play with that trope.

Batman: Brave & the Bold #14: This issue had Ragman, an all-time favorite of mine, so of course I had to get it. It’s a simple tale about faith restored (in more ways than one) and a hero’s conviction renewed. Nothing ground breaking, but what do you expect from this line? And that’s not a slight–just remember what age group DC’s going for. I usually ignored the Johnny DC line but having bought a few of this title and the Tiny Titans, I may have to go back and get some more issues. For my kids….

Batwoman #4: I go from a comic rated E to a T+ book. I don’t know that I needed that one panel (“HUHlinhAAaaaaaaa…”), but juxtaposed with the one where Flamebird is bleeding out in the snow does give it more weight than mere titillation. Regardless, another good issue from the creators. Poor Flamebird. She doesn’t get any respect no matter what DC universe she’s in. And after reading about Agent Chase in this title, I may have to go pick up that Chase trade that DC recently released.

Buffy, Season 9 #4: I’m getting real tired of Xander’s and Dawn’s disdainful approach towards Buffy. My daughter will not like me saying this–yet again–but we see for perhaps the dozenth time that Spike is the guy Buffy should be with. The only thing about Season so far that I’m not sure I like is the real-world intrusion, a la the police getting involved. Normally, I’d want that kind of realism to intrude every so often in a fantasy story like this, but it just doesn’t feel right (just like it didn’t in early Highlander episodes).

Demon Knights #4: Another solid book, this time focusing on the Shining Knight. How much fun the creative team must be having in confounding the characters and us as to whether the Knight is man or woman. Sometimes, the art clearly shows a male, other times, the features morph slightly and the Knight looks more girlish. Of course, Merlin speaks in the issue of the Shining Knight’s dual nature, but then we see the Knight looking a lot like a vampire (and there is that whole drinking of blood thing earlier), so what exactly is the “dual nature” of which Merlin spoke? Man/woman? Good/evil? Both? (And in no way am I implying that there is a connection between those dichotomies: man does not equal good and woman does not equal evil, so don’t go there.) If it weren’t for my love of the Justice League characters, this would be my favorite book of the DCnU.

Green Lantern #4: Have I mentioned before what a great buddy cop story this comic has become? I love love love Sinestro as a Green Lantern and being “over” Hal at the moment. But it is Hal that gets Sinestro to break beyond the Korugarian’s limitations with his human penchant for thinking outside the box. After all, Sinestro has always been about order and control (well, since Geoff Johns took over as Green Lantern historian), and Hal has been about rule breaking and having fun with the ring (think of them as Murtaugh and Riggs from Lethal Weapon). Finally, that page where Hal creates his last construct and it is of Carol was touching. Is Johns setting up Sinestro to be THE Green Lantern in Green Lantern?

Magdalena #10: This is probably one of those comics where the idea outweighs the execution, so I may not be long with it. This reads a lot like Buffy in different trappings, and I have little interest in that. Ron Marz needs to focus on the character and not the plot as much to keep me around. I did buy the first trade, so I’m anxious to see if it’s more of the same of the last two issues I’ve read.

New Avengers #19: Why does Norman Osborne look like Tommy Lee Jones in this book? I love that Peter is an ass to Victoria Hand. Usually Pete is so … ok with things, but this, this he knows (from his perspective at least) to be a wrong thing and he takes every opportunity to point it out to Hand and the rest of the New Avengers. Also, do not mess with Madame Hydra. She will cut you. Seriously. Plus, she’s damn funny here. :)

SHIELD #4: Remember how I mentioned last issue that I felt a little ripped off because the issue was 18 pages of battle sequences and a couple of pages of dialogue? Well, this issue we get three repeated scenes with only the setting changing. I understand narratively what Hickman’s going for, but come on.

Suicide Squad #4: Still liking this comic. I will say it: I like this depiction of Harley Quinn. I like Deadshot (and perhaps even more than I did when he was on the old DCU in Secret Six). I like Diablo. I like what Deadshot did to Captain Boomerang. And I still like the endings to this comic: so far, every issue ends with the Squad needing to pull yet another job in a limited time frame or they’re dead. However, that trick’ll get boring real fast. Not to mention, these guys need to sleep some times, right?

I also read Resurrection Man #4 (again, love the angel/demon angle, but still do not care for the title character), Shade #3 (this really just served to get us to the next plot point), Star Trek/LSH #3 (Well, at least the two groups are working together at the end of the issue. This has been a disappointment from go. At least the Phil Jimenez covers are nice to look at.), and Unwritten #32 (the sacrifice of the Frankenstein’s monster was touching).