Day 3 (30 Day Comic Book Challenge)

A comic that is underrated.

There are many I could choose from, I think, but the one that leaps to mind now is Xombi.

Xombi #1

However I’m not basing this on anything but the lack of “buzz” surrounding this book when it was being published. I loved it, and in preparation for these 30 Day Challenge posts I saw that some other, more prestigious blogs liked it as well (it just showed up in CBR’s Top 100 of 2011 at #83), but hardly anyone I interact with was enjoying this series. This I did not understand. There was so much to like in this series. Weird and grand ideas from John Rozum that were bigger than the main character (sort of like Planetary, only stranger). An art style by Frazer Irving that fit the tone of the story very well, though admittedly it took me a couple issues to dig. I can’t help but think that if the sales had been better (it averaged under 7500 copies per month), we might have seen this as part of the New 52 The Dark line. Go read my reviews of the issues for more of my take on this interesting, short-run book.

Pull List Review (8/24/11 Comics)

Batman, Inc. #8: Batman creates Internet version 3.0. Seriously. I actually liked the virtual world renditions of Batman and Babs as Batgirl, especially the panel on the next to last page showing Batgirl fly away. Even better, I loved how Batman was depicted as mostly muscle and it was Babs who had the lay of the land, so to speak. She even tells Batman later that she spends her downtime (Oracle has downtime?) “playing online against teenage masterminds in Asia”. The contrast of colors in the issue was a bit of a stumbling block for me though (too much black/gray on red backgrounds).

Batman, the Dark Knight #5: Hmm. This title, though lovely to look at when David Finch was doing the art (not to downplay the art by the other artists these last few issues), reminded me a lot of Spawn if he were in the DCU. Does that make sense? I actually enjoyed the “mystery” that started the series, but as time went on, that became moot, and it just became Batman dealing with magical threats. I won’t be returning to this title when it’s relaunched.

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #3: It seems rather pointless to review these last tie-ins since we’re now two weeks into the DCnU. But I started them, so I must finish them! :) Bart becomes a Black Flash, stealing Speed Force energy from previous speedsters as he works his way to Barry. Then he transforms into a White Flash to give Barry all of that Speed Force to help Barry save the world (but I don’t get how, even after reading Flashpoint #5). Again, another pointless end to a tie-in. Also, I never want to see Scott Kolins art again.

Flashpoint: Lois Lane & the Resistance #3: What to say about this title? I liked the Brittania character. I hope she shows up in the DCnU. My main complaint about this series was that Lois Lane, while featured prominently on the marquee, was barely in the story in any significant way.

Flashpoint: Project Superman #3: There are some interesting things about this book. The Flashpoint “Superman” never developed that innate respect for human life and kills when, I guess, he feels it necessary. I first saw it in Flashpoint #5, and it’s here as well when Kal kills the Subject Zero (after a long fight scene, of course). I like how we’re shown how powerful Kal is despite that he’s been stunted by his imprisonment. I wish we would see this more often with our Superman. Speaking of Subject Zero, we’re told (or maybe I missed it in issue 1) why he has the powers he has: his DNA was spliced with Doomsday’s. I also like the Lois Lane we’re given in this story much more than her depiction in Lois Lane and the Resistance. They should have just kept Lois in this book and retitled the other Flashpoint: The Resistance.

Teen Titans #100: I. Am. So. Sick. Of. Superboy Prime! Please, please, please! DC, let this be the very last time we see this character. We’re off to a good start because the Teen Titans do end up defeating him (oh, like that’s a spoiler!). It was cool to see a bunch of past Titans, like Red Star and the second Speedy (I like her costume for some reason). I do have a problem with the Titans’ hypocrisy at the end: Superboy Prime created Connor clones that the Titans defeated by stabbing them with a kryptonite stake, yet when they’ve defeated Prime, Ravager says they should do the same thing to Prime, but the rest of the Titans go, “Whoa! That’s murder!” O.O The epilogue shows us Ravager’s softer side (I actually would have liked to see how her and Conner’s budding relationship would have progressed) and an actual character moment when Ravager realizes that Conner trusts her to kill him if he ever loses control: ” I get it,” she says. “. . . You’ll need me to kill you. Because that’s what I do.” That panel had more resonance for me than the next panel showing her crying. It was nice to see Raven and Gar end up together, and to see her happy for once. The comic ends with nine pages of pin-ups (I’m also counting the actual final page of the story). While I enjoyed seeing the various artists do their own Titans splash pages, I could have just paid $3.99 for the actual story (30 pages).

Wonder Woman #614: After how disappointing the “Grounded” story was in Superman, “Odyssey” was a satisfactory resolution, and ended up where I expected (not that it wasn’t hard to guess that our Diana would return). In fact, the best part of this final issue was the second half, when Diana returns to the world she (and we) know. The pure joy she feels when she realizes reality is once again restored resonated with me. Later, she visits with her mother, who notices her different clothing: “Themysciran themes, but in a form the mortals would find appealing.” I spoke with Oddfellow about Wonder Woman’s costume in episode 9 of the LBR podcast, but I’ll reiterate that I would be just peachy if they had kept the “Odyssey” version of her uniform in the relaunch. Later still, Diana speaks of change in the air, yet another instance where the DC writers wink and nod at we readers about what’s coming. Finally, I just wanted to note how much I liked Lee Garbett’s work on this title. He started out on Batgirl and was my favorite on that title until Pere Perez came along, but that certainly doesn’t mean that Mr. Garbett’s work is inferior, just different. His (I believe it’s his anyway) final splash page of Diana flying into the Themysciran skies was wonderful. A great ending to a pretty good final Wonder Woman story prior to the DCnU. If you haven’t been reading this, pick it up some time.

Xombi #6: I am so going to miss all the oddball stuff in this comic. Usually, I gravitate toward a character, but it was the world of Xombi that grabbed me and said, “Look at all this craziness! Isn’t it great?!” Yes, yes it was. In this issue, we get the Sisterhood of Blood Mummies, Dental Phantoms, actual Pearls of Wisdom, and dudes with eyeballs as heads! I also liked the bit where Annie rushed at the bad guy who was teleporting away and grabbed a hold of his heart. I would have loved to see where John Rozum and Frazer Irving would have taken us in the next storyline. Again, I repeat: DC dropped the ball by not keeping this title on their roster.

I also read Batman: Gates of Gotham#5 (what a disappointing series; Scott Snyder continues to elude me as being a good Batman writer. Do not waste your time with this turkey), Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #3 (just . . . don’t bother), and FF #8 (still good, but nothing worth talking about).

Finally, have you noticed how much DC is pimping the OGN New Teen Titans: Games in this month’s comics? I love it! I cannot wait to get this (I’m sure I’ll do a podcast on it). It was especially apropos being in Teen Titans #100.

What do you think of my thoughts on this week’s comics? Agree or disagree? Let me know!

Pull List Review (7/27/11 Comics)

Batman: The Dark Knight #4: You know, I only bought this series because of Finch’s work on covers I’d seen. I am always leery of artists with seemingly no writing experience taking on writing & art duties in a book (insert your early Image Comics joke here), but I have to say I was impressed by Finch’s first few issues of this title. Of course, he doesn’t draw this issue, but Jason Fabok on pencils and Ryan Winn and Batt on inks do a really good job of evoking Finch’s style. I am intrigued by Ragman’s appearance in this story (and the devil-worshiping cabal whose cloaks look an awful lot like Ragman’s suit). I’m not sure all the demons and demon-possessed folks showing up as much as they are in a Batman story fits, but I’m along for the ride (at least until September). That final two-page spread was done well, evoking a sense of cinematic dread (but does Batman really not see or hear them approaching?). I am ignoring the Gordon sub-plot, just because I won’t be returning to it in September. Four Batman-family books are enough, I think.

Brightest Day Aftermath: Search for Swamp Thing #2: Bah.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #2: Another great issue. Ed Brubaker does a really good job of developing character, which is my favorite thing about any story, in a comic book or otherwise. Plus, I love the bad guy as protagonist, which Criminal the series excels at. The art style of the flashbacks continue to please me, and add a nice juxtaposition between the dark grittiness of the main story and the Archie Comics feel of the past sequences. Nicely done.

Fables #107: I bought this only because Terry Moore was listed as a guest artist (plus that Joao Ruas cover is quite striking). I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in what I got. Moore’s work on Strangers in Paradise is at times sublime, and almost always better than most comic artists out there, but here, it was . . . typical for this book, I guess. The story was also typical if you’ve read enough of Fables, as I have. I did like, however, the sign shown in the background of one panel where a line of newly minted princes await their turn to kiss the Sleeping Beauty; it reads: “No tongue! No touching! No ogling! No drooling! No gifts!”, and then, tacked onto the sign at the bottom: “No singing!” Hah! Take that Disney!

FF #7: Part two of the Black Bolt interlude. Nothing to say here, really.

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #2: I wonder if anything will be made of the facts that the Flash, in the present, and Kid Flash in the future knows that the universe has changed. Or is it simply that because of what the Reverse-Flash did to change the DCU via his anti-Speed Force (dark SF?), and that Barry and Bart are connected via the Speed Force, that’s enough of an explanation? I guess in this case I’d like things to be spelled out for me a bit more, but then, why do I care when we get the new status quo next month?

Flashpoint: Lois Lane & the Resistance #2: This is currently my least favorite of the tie-ins. When I pick up something called Lois Lane and the Resistance, I expect Lois Lane to be the focal point of the story, but she really wasn’t in this issue. Plus, I just don’t care for Grifter.

Flashpoint: Project Superman #2: Now this issue was actually pretty good. Seeing how General Lane adopts the alien Kal-El as a surrogate son over time was nice to read, plus how Subject Zero helps Kal over the years, only to be schooled in humanity by the alien boy was also nice. It’s definitely a nice change of pace from the General Lane we were shown in Superman: Secret Origin (I feel like I have to spit when I type that title . . .).

Mighty Thor #4: Now this is more like it! Odin and Thor (and the other Asgardians, presumably, though they are conspicuously absent in this great battle) take on Galactus! But it’s not merely a physical fight, and I appreciate Matt Fraction showing us a battle of minds between the two “gods”. We get to see a side of Galactus that I have never seen, and I actually feel some compassion for that old blow-hard Odin. Then, after Thor has flung himself and Mjolnir at Galactus’s head, the Silver Surfer attacks Thor and they land on Mars! That’s a helluva distance, I presume.

Sixth Gun #13: Ok, so now we know why Sinclair was so spooked by the appearance of the mummy from last issue. Regardless, I’m starting to wonder if I should keep reading this title. It definitely started out strong for me, but these last few issues is just more of the same. I want the plot to move along, little doggey.

Teen Titans #98: I haven’t had much to say about this title in recent months, and I’ll only add this now: Superboy-Prime is back? Blech. I am so sick of this character. So sick of the recurring trope of Conner saying he’s the “real” Superboy and Prime going all ballistic. Just sick of this story being retold again and again, and this storyline is what will end this title before the relaunch? Ugh.

Wonder Woman #613: We are finally shown the events leading up to the “old” Wonder Woman being replaced by this “new” version. The rest of the issue is mostly a fight scene between Nemesis and WW, ending with Diana reclaiming all of “herself” that Nemesis had taken, but still, and refreshingly, in her new outfit (which I have grown to like quite a lot–I hope the relaunch WW keeps the pants). Next issue is the last before the relaunch, so I suppose we’ll have a battle royale.

Xombi #5: God, I love this book. I love the visuals, I love the ideas, I love the characters. Rozum and Irving have created something unique at DC Comics (hell, anywhere, really), and I hate to see it go (I know, I keep saying it, but it’s still true). Irving’s art is either getting better or I’m just getting used to it, but I still think it’s lovely. I love how he uses shading/shadows to create form. And I think where I’m getting used to the art is where he uses coloring–I didn’t mind it so much this time. The only problem I have with this issue is the two pages that were spent on David talking about the love of his life who, correct me if I’m wrong, we haven’t even seen in these five issues. Why bring this up now and spend so much time on it? If it doesn’t come up in some way in the next, the last, it was a wasted moment on Rozum’s part. I look forward to the resolution of this storyline.

Pull List Review (6/29/11 Comics)

Batman, Inc. #7: I actually haven’t been enjoying the recruitment drive that Batman has been on in this series, but for some reason I really enjoyed this issue. I wanted to read more about the Native American father & son Batman and Robin analogs. The only problem I have with it is that I’m wondering how, or now IF, Morrison will be wrapping up the story before September. Of course, this series will return after the Relaunch, but will DC somehow end this series in September story-wise or just stop it for the eventual return?

FF #5: Oh, I hate Reed Richards! How dare he blast Susan in the face with a ray gun?! Ok, it was an alternate Reed who apparently prefers brunettes, which just proves that that Reed is an idiot. ;) But the look on Susan’s face when she realizes that this Reed is not hers (pre-ray-gun blast) is just so beautifully done by Barry Kitson. I now know my answer to the “Which comic book character would you want to date?” question I asked Oddfellow in LBR Episode 4. :D The two-page scene between Ben and Alicia was also a very nice moment. Finally, the part where Reed (our Reed, not the doppelgänger) is examining Susan after her battle at Old Atlantis, where she glares at him, waiting for an explanation is priceless, and then when he sits down, defeated and anxious, telling her that he’s done something terrible was just brilliantly done by Hickman and Kitson. I do believe that this is my new favorite comic. Also, reading this makes me want to create a superhero in City of Heroes with force field and invisibility powers because I love Susan so much. I know, NERD! :)

Flashpoint: Project Superman #1: Harumph! Here we get another first issue of a Flashpoint tie-in that, while providing background and world-building, doesn’t really get me into the story that will be this series. Ok, I’m probably judging this too harshly based on my frustration of all the tie-ins I’ve read so far, so I’ll try to stop doing that. I swear this story was done just so we could have a blond “Superman”. :) So, since in this world Kal-El hasn’t arrived until the end of the issue (I assume), what alien DNA do they splice with Blondie to give him Superman’s powers? Another Kryptonian? J’onn J’onzz’s? None of the above? Anyone read Booster Gold #45 who could tell me? I actually liked that editor’s box plugging the tie-in to Booster Gold–I miss that in comics.

Flashpoint: Canterbury Cricket #1: So, is he a man who thinks he is a cricket, or a cricket who thinks that he is a man? And here’s another mini-rant: the human character’s name is Jeremy Chriqui. Who besides the writer thinks that’s cute? Does Mike Carlin like the actress, or is it just that he wanted a similar sounding last name that wasn’t Cricket? I don’t understand why we needed this one-shot. The story it tells isn’t all that interesting and could have been summarized in at most a few panels in some other book if DC wanted to spotlight this character. Or is this part of the diversity campaign that DC’s on by giving us an English character?

Sixth Gun #12: Okay, first of all, go read Oddfellow’s review of this issue. For me, however, this is yet another story I’ve read recently where it’s just one long fight scene. I enjoyed it, but really got nothing out of it that moves the overall story forward. The main element I liked was at the end when Sinclair gets wide-eyed because he thought he saw a giant mummy jump onto the train (which he did). Given what we know about Sinclair (and Oddfellow points this out as well), why does a giant mummy freak him out like that given what he’s had to deal with thus far, and deal with it in a pretty calm and straight-forward manner? Either we have some fake moment of distress hoisted upon us, or there’s something going on here with Sinclair or his past that I hope turns out to be intriguing (I hope it’s the latter). As to the art, I love how Brian Hurtt uses the two-page spread to such an advantage for the fight scenes in this issue.

Wonder Woman #612: I really enjoyed the reveal of the why in this “Odyssey” storyline, but it’s nothing Earth-shattering, though, I did think that perhaps the Greek gods were behind it as a way to teach Diana a lesson as opposed to helping her defeat a greater enemy. The part where Diana goes through the portal and is confronted by the statues of her defeated Amazons was a little creepy (they had word balloons, but no words), though it reminded me too much of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who. The ending splash page is interesting, but who are we seeing? Our version of Diana, Nemesis in her form, or just some illusion designed to unbalance Diana in the coming fight? Looking forward to the next issue to see how this pans out.

Xombi #4: I was disappointed in this issue as it is mostly a talking heads issue (in some cases, literally) giving us Annie’s back-story. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed John Rozum’s characters and interactions in this we-can-breath-now-after-the-post-apocalyptic-battle story, but given that we only have a couple issues left, did we really need a whole comic to give us this information? That’s unfair, I know, since this was probably scripted and drawn before any announcement from DC about the Relaunch was made, but still. I just enjoy this comic so much in general that I don’t want any wasted moments before the end. DC really dropped the ball by not including this series as part of its Relaunch. If this series were to continue, I would be more forgiving as this issue would just be building up the next chapter in the story.

Pull List Review (5/25/11 Comics)

FF #4: If I didn’t already kinda love Sue Richards, Marvel has Barry Kitson go and draw this issue of FF. Homina homina! Also, the interplay between Reed and his symposium guests is wonderful. He really is shown as the smartest man in the room, and it’s obvious to all who are in attendance why Reed and his family have beaten these adversaries time after time. As Sue told Spidey, “Do you think I should be afraid of them . . . or should they be afraid of me?” And, towards the end of the issue, a nice homage to the cover of FF #1. I cannot wait to see how Sue responds to these alternate Reeds, because this is really what this book is about for me: how Sue is awesome.

Green Lantern #66: Umm, did Krona just snuff Sinestro? Of course not, but it sure looks like it. Plus, we find that Indigo wasn’t always the compassionate creature we’ve been shown. And there’s a multi-colored panel of Hal and Guy getting zapped by Krona that the artists did a fantastic job on.

Green Lantern Corps #60: The only interesting thing in this issue is that John Stewart kills Mogo to prevent the living planet from doing Krona’s bidding. If left alive, Mogo would allow Krona to succeed, so John does the mercy killing thing. Really? John already has issues with killing a planet’s population (from Cosmic Odyssey–go read it!), so why go there? Because only Nixon can go to China? I saw someone else’s review of this event and thought it was a good idea. I don’t get it–this bit just comes across as repetitive and unnecessary.

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10: Again, only one interesting thing in this title: Guy Gardner saves the Green Lantern Corps (and not Hal). I love that Guy is the one that sets Parallax free from the central battery allowing the possessed corps to be free of its influence. Guy’s rallying cry of “I love the Corps! I hate being filled with rage!” as he uses the red and violet rings to tear the battery in two is comical but powerful.

Mighty Thor #2: It’s weird reading this at the same time as Fear Itself. Odin and Thor’s relationship is completely different in the two titles. I’d like to know where they fit in relation to each other as far as continuity. I will assume for now that Fear Itself comes first, especially since they are back in Asgard and we just saw Odin restore Asgard in the event book. The main plot point of this first arc begins: the Silver Surfer arrives in Asgard heralding Galactus’s intent to feast off of the energies from the World-Tree Seed (I think?). So, of course, we have to have the obligatory super–I was about to type “human” there, but neither Thor nor Silver Surfer are that, are they?–being fight. Another comparison to Fear Itself: Odin’s cryptic responses to everything (“You wouldn’t understand”) is getting old. I call lazy story telling (both title are written by Matt Fraction). It’s ok if you do it one book for suspenseful reasons, as long as it pays off in the end, but two? C’mon, Fraction.

Ruse #3: Whereas Sigil #3 was boring, this issue of Ruse really made me feel like I was reading the old series again, with all the wit and sass it used to have. Although, two odd things happen: Simon Archard loses his temper (for a good reason, imo), and he actually gives Emma credit for coming up with the solution to the two cases they are working on. Of course, Emma has no idea what Simon is talking about, but we will next issue.

Xombi #3: Another good issue from Rozum and Irving give us the battle between David and Marantha, and there are some cool visuals in this issue. One is the “dead” body of David after Maranatha takes a big ol’ chomp out of his side. Another is the POV of Maranatha as it gets blasted by the skull gun. The panel is colored in white and violet, with an almost negative quality to it. And then there’s the scolding a ghost gives us, the readers, essentially telling us that life is wasted on the living, though Rozum has a bunch more to say about it than that. There’s still the plot dangler where David must deal with Roland Finch, who put all the events of the last three issues into motion. Unfortunately, it appears that David Kim will only have this one problem to solve before the DC relaunch. I don’t get that. Why start a new series when you know that in a few months you’re not going to continue it? Considering DC’s “more diversity” line, Xombi fits the bill in at least two ways: the title character is Asian, and it’s not your typical superhero title. DC’s missing the boat not keeping this title in its line up.