In which, for some odd reason, a few series put out their next to last issue.

Manhunter 37 (Andreyko/Gaydos; DC): OK, so back in issue 36, they finished up the whole story arc down in Mexico way, and also briefly visited the whole thing with Ramsay having powers, and finally -- finally! -- got back to the storyline that started out lo those many issues ago, with some apparently insane supervillain blowing up abortion clinics. So, remember all that? Yeah, well, forget it. All gone, at least for the moment. We leap forward at least 15 years in the future, and Kate is still Manhunter -- and likely one of the longest served, given the history of the character -- and pursuing a woman who has apparently just stolen a razor of some note. Kate's almost caught up to her when another person in a ski mask tries to help, and gets thrown into a tree ... and calls her "Mom." Needless to say, this does not go over well. We find out all sorts of interesting personal history during that argument, including the fact that Kate's involved with a much younger man who knows her secret, and Ramsay's involved with a strapping young man. Dylan managed to survive being pursued by the Joker and his minions, despite losing a few body parts here and there. Nemesis and Obsidian have a most disconcerting child. And Nellie Lovett and Sweeney Todd manage to between them re-enact the hoariest of super tropes. I assume this issue was started after Andreyko and Gaydos got the word that the series was cancelled, and this took the place of a story arc that couldn't be compressed short enough to work. Any road, it's a lot of fun, and it looks like it's going to be one hell of a conclusion to the series.

Fallen Angel 32 (David/Woodard; IDW): In what I think is the penultimate issue of this series -- the last issue is either 33 or 34 and I'm not quite sure which -- the Angel and Mariah and Jude finally reach their goal, God continues to be a small child, and the final confrontation begins most unexpectedly. I have to admit, this did make me curious aobut the next issue. It looks like it's going to be an intense nearly full-length fight sequence, despite the unexpected ending to this issue. Former enemies -- or at least, people who formerly did not like each other -- will be joining together against Moloch to try to get Bete Noire back to something like what it once was. Ought to be fun to watch!

Brit 11 (Brown/Bellegarde; Image): In which Brit and Donald try to rescue everyone from ... well, the other Brit, a.k.a. the Emperor. Brittany still has this antenna thing stuck in her neck, though it apparently gives her a certain insight into what's going on, and Brit's son is still missing. Alas, next issue is "the big sendoff", in which all this stuff somehow gets resolved. I admit, I'll miss this title -- it was pretty much all fight comix fun, all the time, which isn't the sort of thing I normally like, but it worked here. Unfortunately, as Kirkman says, the title was done in by poor sales -- and for Image to cancel a title for poor sales means that it wasn't moving diddly/squat -- and I suspect he's right when he points out that a major cause was the fact that it scheduled monthly, but managed to publish only 11 issues in 19 months.

Helen Killer issue 4 of 4 (Kreisberg/Rice; Arcana): For some reason, my store didn't get this in when it was first issued, and I thought it had just been delayed, since I'd ordered it through Previews. Any road, it was worth the wait. When last we saw Helen, she'd been captured by the bad guy, and he was taunting Alexander Graham Bell and Anne Sullivan over the wireless, and then there was a horrible awful scream... which turned out not to be Helen. Josiah helps her get away, and then the two of them and Bell pursue Grey to New York and the Flatiron building, in hot pursuit of Grey, his gold-to-lead transmutation device with which he intends to destroy the world monetary supply, and the omnicle. And Helen, of course, winds up being awesome like an awesome thing of awesomeness, with or without omnicle. Rice's art is wonderfully dark and detailed, and Kreiberg's and Rice's story has cliffhangers and melodrama galore. Highly recommended; I hope Arcana plans to put out some sort of compiled form sometime soon.

Batman 683-684 (683, Morrison/Garbett/Scott; 684, Denny O'Neil/Guillem March; DC): Apparently, the print schedule for Batman got seriously jacked up by the repeated delays with Final Crisis. The title has now published, I believe, four times in the last seven weeks, with Detective coming out during one of the off weeks. It's understandable; thera are things that happen in 682 and 683 that bear directly on Final Crisis -- what appears to be a little throwaway comment about what happened with Batman after he was captured may in fact turn out to be something major -- and in turn, if you haven't read Final Crisis, 682 and 683 are just baffling. 683 shows the might of Batman's mind, in which he not only thinks his way out of a very interesting box, but manages to bring someone along for the ride, so to speak. 684 is a nice little conclusion to the two parter started over in Detective, in which Batman is still missing, and things are getting a bit fraught, and Millicent Mayne somehow still manages to be the Face of Gotham even without one. That said, aside from establishing that Batman is still gone, that issue looks terribly slight stacked up against the two preceding. The three combine to confuse the post-RIP/Final Crisis timeline quite thoroughly; we know that it's six months between when Bruce Wayne disappears and A Batman comes back, because that's implied in the RIP conclusion itself. It's not at all clear how long there is between RIP and Final Crisis, or whether the Gothamites even know that he reappeared to be captured -- after all, he was captured in battle against the New Gods.
Fables 72 (Willingham/Buckingham): So on the one hand, Cinderella is, once again, unspeakably awesome. On the other hand ... we've been hearing about the war for two issues now, and it would be kind of nice to just, well, get there already. And yet, I can't quite say that I'd want to have seen less of Cinderella. In any event, I expect that we'll finally get around to seeing how the war got started next issue. One can but hope, anyway.

Batman 675 (Morrison/Benjamin): In which Jezebel Jet tries to get Bruce to open up to her, and instead he breaks up with her, sort of, and she also gets A Clew. We also discover that she has enemies of her own (...but really, the Ten Eyed Men? Really?), and that Talia has finally decided that she should take Jezebel seriously as a rival. At this point, it's clear that Jezebel has what could politely be called colliding refrigerators headed her way; the only question really is going to be which one gets there first, whether she'll survive the experience, and what role this plays in the upcoming RIP storyline. And also, why on earth we should even care. Seriously, she's had a total of maybe -- maybe -- 20 pages of face time in about a year's worth of issues. That's not enough time for the reader to get to know her, and it's certainly not enough face time for us to care. I actually don't object all that much to characters being created for the express purpose of being developed so that you can kill them off and get all sorts of reader angst ... but you actually have to get around to the whole "development" part before that works.
It's interesting, in a weird way, to see how things have changed, and how they haven't. In the late 1950s, early 1960s, you simply couldn't have had an icon like Bruce Wayne/Batman dating a black woman. The public would have burned DC to the ground for the very idea. In the 1970s, 1980s, you could have done it, but there would have been Publicity To Beat The Band. "Bruce Wayne Dating A Black Woman! A first for Comics!" Now? It just happens, and nobody really notices. Which, really, is probably a good thing.

On the other hand, "Jezebel Jet" is a peculiarly tone deaf name to give a character in this country. Granted, Morrison is British, and not American, and granted that Jezebel herself appears not to be American -- her father is apparently the ruler of a starving African country (she herself mentions that some of her people are starving, in a terribly odd context in this issue) -- even so, you'd think that someone at DC might have stepped in and said, "Um, Grant, perhaps you should give this character a different first name, especially as you don't appear to want to imply that she's a prostitute."

Apart from the Jezebel issue, there's the fact that the art is, honestly, kind of butt-ugly, for some reason. They've also done something with the character design for Damien; he's gone from being about 10 years old in his previous appearances to being about 15 now. Seriously, just how old is the kid, anyway?

Fallen Angel 26 (David/Woodward): In which the war for Bete Noire comes to an unexpected (if apparently temporary) conclusion, and we end up back at the beginning in more than one way. I have to admit, I'm kind of astonished; I really didn't expect that result, and certain not in quite so thorough a way. I also can't remember ever seeing an ongoing series kill off as many of its continuing characters as this series has in the past two. Woodward's art was very good, as usual, although everyone gets peculiarly wide-eyed at the end, and because his art is generally more delicately shaded, it kind of stands out. I'm really curious to see where it goes from here. From the looks of the cover of the next issue, we'll probably be taking a small break to regroup. Still, a pretty impressive storyline, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it continues.

The Spirit 14-16 (Evanier/Aragones/Cook): ... Yeah, OK, done here. I really haven't liked this title since Evanier and Agagones took over from Darwyn Cooke, and I'm finally dropping it from my pull list until/unless it gets new writers. What Darwyn Cooke and Bone managed to do was to make The Spirit its own thing, very modern yet aware of its origins. The Evanier/Aragones edition feels like a retread of Eisner's Spirit. Despite the presence of some modern trappings -- the odd computer or miniskirt in the pictures -- the stories themselves just feel terribly old fashioned. Issue 14 was actually the worst in this regard, using Eisner-style layouts. Those haven't appeared again, but the stories still seem quaint and antique.

Dynamo 5 #12: In which the kids group together to rescue Maddie and Hector's mother from Brains, Brawn and the other bad guys, albeit possibly not in time. And another secret is discovered on the very last page. Honestly, that last page puzzles me, and possibly not in the way intended. I'm not at all sure what it really means. Which is probably the intent. Anyway, still a fun and entertaining (if puzzling) issue.

Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag #8 (Ostrander): In which the mission reaches a satisfactorily gory and explosive end. And another person is recruited to the team; said person is (1) a terribly, terribly bad idea, and (2) ought to produce all sorts of other difficulties, depending on when this arc ends, relative to Checkmate. I have to admit, I do love this series. I love that one of the baddest badasses in the DCU is a big black woman with no discernable superpowers whatsoever. The only thing I minded is that Waller doesn't get herself out of the mess at the end, but needs the help of someone on the Squad. Mind, it's entirely reasonable that she'd have needed help; it just would have been more interesting for her to get herself out of the mess. Anyway, way more fun than I expected, and I hope there's a Suicide Squad miniseries done by Ostrander every year.

Space Doubles #3: I love this series, published by Th3rd World. (The "3" is used advisedly.) I like that they can do these short, pulpy half-issue flipovers, and each story works on its own, and isn't connected to umpteen thousand other stories. You can just read each story on its own, and enjoy it for what it is. "Escape Pod" by Mark Smith and Matthew Huynh tells the story of a young man who was in an accident and developed traumatic amnesia as a result. The tiger in the tale is exactly why he developed amnesia and what happens once he gets his memory back. "Everywhere I Look ... Bugs!" by Closter and Schaufelberger, is a bit less successful, if only because the revelation of quite why the man is having hallucinations about bugs just doesn't quite work. Nonetheless, overall, both stories were very enjoyable. (Now, if only http://th3rdworld.com/ would develop an RSS feed for their online comics, which I keep forgetting are even there...)
With spoilers a-go-go, no doubt, so let's stick the whole thing behind a cut.

Included: Buffy season 8 #1, Girls 22, Dynamo 5 #1, maybe a few other things.

Insert Buffy opening theme music ... HERE. )
You know ... someday I'll get around to writing "Anyone for Blasphemy", really I will. (No, REALLY! Would I lie to you? ... Don't answer that.)

But until then: here! have a little something sure to infuriate a great many people, conservatively religious, liberal religious and otherwise. WARNING: Major spoiler -- or a spoiler of some sort, anyway -- contained therein.

NEWSARAMA - FALLEN ANGEL #5 preview pages

That would certainly be one answer to the whole prayer thing, wouldn't it?
Yes! Really! A comics review entry! Really! Would I lie to you? (Don't answer that.)

Given that this is a long long LONG entry, resplendent with spoilers everywhere you look, I'm going to take the whole thing behind an LJ-cut tag. And if there's anyone out there reading this through RSS ... well, you wuz warned. Right here and now. SPOILERS AHOY for Mr Miracle, Frankenstein, Bomb Queen, Retro Rocket, American Virgin, American Way, Nextwave, Planetary Brigade, and Fallen Angel.

Spoilers! Mondo Spoilers! Spoilers spoilers everywhere! Turn back while you can! ... OK, the rest of you, walk this way... )

And that's all for sack time this time, so until next time...
Hopefully better spoilered this time.


Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle 3 (Grant Morrison/Freddie E. Williams II)

...Jesus freakin' CHRIST!

Let's deconstruct the ending behind this cut tag, shall we? Let's shall... )


Planetary 24: Guide/Systems (Ellis/Cassaday)

I'm glad that this title is back on track, now that it's trundling slowly through its final four (counting this one and the after-ending special issue that Ellis has talked about). I hope it can hold to a vaguely regular publication schedule, after this last somewhat long (admittedly not huge) gap between issues.

Strange thing about this issue: with the exception of the occasional question asked by a couple of characters, it's essentially a monologue. And an action-free monologue, at that, until near the end. And yet, it manages to push us further along to the "Oh, THAT'S what's going on," point.

(Also, I love Cassaday's art in this. In almost anything, really -- although I have seen one or two occasional things where his startlingly realistic style doesn't entirely work, it's always been a perfect match for Planetary.)


All-Star Superman 2 (Morrison/Quitely)

And yet another title in which, on the whole

Read more... )

The artwork actually seems to me a bit better this time. True, Lois' cheekbones seem to have gone walkabout, but on the other hand, Superman's face isn't as broad and squished as it was in the first issue. (He also seems to be cheekbone-free much of the time. I wonder what Quitely has against them?)


The Maze Agency 2: A Beautiful Prime (Mike Barr/Ariel Padilla)

The idea being that the title contains "fair-play mysteries", that the reader should be able to solve them if they've been paying attention. Like the old Ellery Queen mysteries on television. In any event, the story moves along, and it was more interesting and entertaining than the last one. I could have done without

Major plot spoiler lurks behind the cut )

It's a weird title. On the one hand, IDW titles are expensive enough that this one is hard to justify as an issue purchase; it would in some ways make more sense to wait until a compilation was done.

On the other hand, it was a quick, fun read. Eh. YMMV; I think that this may be the last issue I buy. Unless I'm in the mood for light and fun the next time it comes out. We'll see.


Testament 2 (Douglas Rushkoff/Liam Sharp)

Very ... intriguing. And further discussion will be held until the "Anyone for blasphemy?" entry, which will be coming soon.


Girls 9 (Luna Brothers)

Huh.

Not actually a very busy issue, but some interesting interaction between the characters. And, of course, as with the past few issues, the very last panel contains one of those, "Oh. Didn't see that one coming," moments. I wonder who done the deed....

...What? You expected more? Seriously, it's not a busy issue, but it is important to see how the characters see the relationships with each other.

(Heh. Not a spoiler in sight on that one, even.)


BPRD: The Black Flame 6 of 6

...that was an ending? I mean, yes, OK, kind of, But not really quite understanding what happened, either. I think that'll take another read.


Revelations 6 of 6 (Jenkins/Ramos)

And we come to the end. Very strongly written, very reasonable ending, makes perfectly good sense, and anyone paying enough attention probably saw it coming.

Hated hated hated HATED that ending. Understand: it's not a bad ending, technically speaking. I just ... HATED it. I hated the ending so much that I started reading Warren Ellis Blackgas -- a new horror title, for heaven's sake, and I hate horror most of the time -- to get a bit of distance from it.

But still. HATED that ending.

And again, in-depth discussion deferred until "Anyone for blasphemy?"


Blackgas (Ellis/Max Fiumara)

Picked this one up just for the hell of it; there's almost no chance at all that I'm going to stick with it. Not because of anything intrinsically wrong with it, just ... dude.

very brief spoiler for something that it turns out is not in the actual issue )

That said, I like the writing so far -- gentler than Ellis' usual style -- and I like Fiumara's art. (Most of the Avatar stuff I've seen is done by this person -- I don't remember the name right now -- who uses this unspeakably ornate black and white line art. Amazingly rich and detailed, but I really don't like it at all. It's hard to see anything in it. In any event, Fiumara's work is very clean and textured, and Andrew Dalhouse's colors are really lovely stuff. (Be warned that there are a couple pages of nekkidness inside. Plus, of course, the requisite icky stuff, with the blood and the guts and the gore and all that fun, because what would a horror title be without them?) And for all that I've already said that I know that I'm not sticking with it, I do wonder where on earth that last panel is headed. Nowhere good, I would assume.

In any event, I think from what Ellis has said on the Signal that this is a mini-series or a maxi-series (but not a full one), but I'm not sure how long.


Fallen Angel 2 (Peter David/JK Woodward)

Peter David's said on his website that the series has already been picked up for a run longer than the initial three-issue arc planned, which makes me very very happy. We now know why he took the 20-year great leap forward (although there is a slight problem in that the characters don't look much older -- although, that said, given who they are and what Bete Noire seems to be, there may be reasons for that as well), and a very interesting reason it is. Woodward's watercolors are seriously gorgeous; the series looks entirely different than it did under DC's guidance.

Interestingly, according to things I've seen on David's site and other bulletin boards, it seems that the original plan for Lee may have been to have her be a less-powerful, for some reason, Linda Lee Danvers, which would explain why Fallen Angel started out as a DC title rather than as a Vertigo title, where it more properly belonged. That said, if that was the original plan, I can't imagine that DC would under any circumstances have allowed Peter David to buy the title and characters away.

And, yet again, any more in-depth discussion deferred until "Anyone for blasphemy?" (I'll get to it someday, I promise!)


Super-Bad James Dynomite (written by Kenan Ivory, Shawn and Marlon Wayons, Xavier Cook, Mitchell Marchand; art by Robert Reed and Darren Huang)

Um ... yeah.

It's like ... Ugly Son of Blaxploitation, really. Except that the artwork is really kind of stunning (if periodically gross). Seriously uninvolving, not particularly funny story, though. And, needless to say, for adults only. How adult do I mean?

Well. Take the very very first panel. (Please. Far Far away ... no, FARTHER away than that.) First, you notice the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Then you notice that she's ... grinning? Um ... OK. Then you notice that the Statue does not believe in shaving her armpits -- in fact, she's got what would appear to be 10-20 foot long braids sticking straight out of there. OK ... and then you notice that the Statue has shapely gams. I mean, who knew? And then you notice that the Statue ... does not shave or groom or otherwise tame things Down There, shall we say. In fact, you notice that the Statue actually has a "Down There". (The boat ride into the harbor for new immigrants, way back when, must have been a seriously startling experience.)

People, I did not need, in this lifetime, to think about the Coochie of Liberty. Not once. Not ever. Even less did I need to see the Coochie of Liberty. And you know, once you have seen the Coochie of Liberty, you can never un-see it. It will be branded into your brain forever.

FOREVER!

In any event, the issue ends on a cliffhanger, so I assume that it will continue, although I don't know how often this is planned to come out. And honestly, I'm not sure that I care.


Small Gods 12 (Jason Rand/Juan E. Ferreyra, Kristen Simon)

And with this issue, the regular series of Small Gods ends. Dammit. Although there will allegedly be a full color two issue mini later in the year or early next year.

In any event, it's kind of a good ending to the series. (I say "kind of" only because it's kind of sad for one of the characters, who doesn't get what she wants.) I hope that maybe they can keep doing little miniseries, since it's really very enjoyable.
.

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